In screen printing, there are dozens of shortcuts that artists can take to save time and money. But first, it’s imperative to have a full understanding of the proper method before changes are made. Trying to shortcut an art process without first understanding all of the pieces and how they fit together can create more problems than it solves. It’s better to achieve a comfort level first with each step, and then you can start to push towards simplifying things.
To assist in this process, you can break down some of your art and design tasks, and see if there are areas where time is being spent that can otherwise be saved. Three art shortcuts that save considerable time are graphic templates, powerclips and design scripts.
1. Terrific Templates
A useful example of an art department shortcut is to create design templates, or pre-made images that a client can quickly adapt for a custom-looking design. These avoid the cost and time of starting designs from scratch. Your art department can become a profit center if it focuses on creating graphics that will land multiple orders from more than one client at a time. The main challenge is to execute this process in a way that makes each client feel like they received a good-looking design, yet they understand that the essence of the design template is owned by the printing company.
2. Powerful Powerclips
The other big advantage with powerclips is that you can save an enormous amount of time by having the graphic placed into the design already separated for screen- printing. Once the design is approved, there is virtually no separation time on the artwork other than a simple setup. In these cases, the design is first separated without being placed into the adjustable shape, and then the final separations can be placed individually into the shape when it is approved for output to films or screens.
There are thousands of applications and styles of powerclips that you can do. Some of the popular powerclips often used include flames, metal effects and distress filters. These effects work well because they have a consistent pattern that will work with a variety of type and graphic backgrounds, and they have wide appeal over multiple designs.
3. Strategic Scripts
One of the most underestimated time drains in creating and separating artwork is the finding, opening and importing of regularly used elements for lower-value tasks. Steps like laying out the right garment for a final design, mapping the design to fit properly on the garment in question and outputting the right format for artwork approval can take up hours of time over a month, depending on how they are done.
The largest limitation for scripts is there may be some simple programming involved, depending on what you want to do. CorelDRAW has a macro builder that allows you to capture commands and save them for running as a group later. A lot of artists and printers tend to shy away from this process, but it is important to consider it for a busy shop. Time spent learning this process will pay you back on every order that uses the script, because you save time.
This is one of the best shortcuts for generating real big blocks of time savings. If you added up all the time on opening extra files, importing templates and exporting results for approvals, that is perhaps two minutes of lost time per job. If your busy shop runs 15 jobs a day, that equals 30 minutes per day in saved time. Over a month, that adds up to 10-12 hours in saved time!
These shortcuts can work independently or together to magnify your art department’s production and efficiency.
Thomas Trimingham has worked for more than two decades as an industry consultant, freelance artist and high-end separator. Contact him through his educational website: screenprintingartist.com.