Live Printing – Preparing for the Event
Knowing what to bring will depend on many factors. When talking to the event coordinator, make sure you asked the following questions:
- How big is the space you'll be in
- Where you can hook up to power
- How much power is available
- Amount of people attending the event
Having the answers to these questions will aid in the decision process of what to bring and what to leave behind. Now, let's dive into the nitty, gritty details of bringing your shop to an event.
SCREEN PRINTING EQUIPMENT
First, and probably most important, the press. You should at least bring a 4x1 press, like the Riley Junior. You can use a bigger press, like a 4x2 or a 4x4 if you have more space or plan to be printing a ton.
You also got to figure out what ink to bring. First question to ask, are you outside or inside? If you're outside, don't bother with water-based inks. Water-based inks evaporate quickly, so you'll be losing more product than necessary. Plastisol is more forgiving. If you're inside, you could do either, depending on what you prefer and what you're printing. Again, plastisol inks are a little easier to work with since you're in an environment that you do not have as much control over as you do in your shop. Maybe stay away from discharge inks since they're a little stinky.
Your garments aren't going to cure themselves. Depending on what you're printing, a flash dryer may do the trick (the standard 16x16 inch will do just fine). If you have the manpower, you can bring a small conveyor dryer like the Vastex D-100. If you're printing outside, there's one element you have little control over – the wind. A flash dryer will not perform well when the wind blows away the heat. A way to bypass that issue is to use a heat press. Heat press is a safe bet for printing, whether you're inside or outside, and you should have a heat transfer press in your shop already. Also, when you set up your screen printing area at the event, make sure you keep your hot equipment away from attendees reach because you do not want any accidents happening.
You'll need to bring many other things than just the press, ink, and curing equipment. Make sure to bring several squeegees, rags, garbage bags. If you're outside, bring a tarp tent to help block the wind (and protect yourself from those UV rays). Obviously, you need screens. Definitely bring backup screens for each design in case one breaks, a bug gets squeegeed into it, etc. Can't forget your cleaning chemicals. Sgreen Wipes are fantastic to have around to wipe up any mess. If you're letting people print their own shirts, you'll notice that the screen gets clogged as the day goes on. Sgreen Supreme Wash is great to use on press; super easy to clean up clogged screens and get back into printing. Most importantly, bring lots of power extension cords. You'll also need a few tables Lastly, you'll need a vehicle to haul all your equipment. Depending on how much you're bringing, you could go the route of a large truck, or you may need a trailer or U-Haul.
What shirts to bring and how many is another important factor, in the lightest of terms. Again, know how many people are coming to the event. The biggest sellers are medium and larges, so bring the bulk of those sizes. Next biggest sellers are smalls and extra-larges, so that'll be the second largest chunk you'll bring. To decide what sizes you'll need, know your audience. Are you printing for a high school wrestling tournament? You'll mainly need the larger sizes. Are you printing at a fair? You're going to have a range of people, so you'll need a range of sizes. On top of all of this information, bring extra shirts. It's better to be safe than sorry.
Making money, super fun topic. Pricing shirts, another enthralling topic. Again, shirt prices will depend on your audience (the theme of this blog). You're at a fancy wine festival where the crowd has more disposable money, you could charge more than usual. You're at an indie concert where the audience is college students, that price will need to be lower. You can charge a premium for a shirt at an event because live printing is a novelty. They get to witness, if not participate, making their shirt. Charge enough that you're making money, but not too high where customers won't consider it.
Another thing to consider is taxes. Does the state have a taxes on retail? Does the city you're in have a tax? Do your research. You can then decide if you want to work it into the price, or add it on when the customer makes the purchase. Something to look into because nobody wants to deal with fines.
It's the digital age, so having a digital card reader will be extremely helpful for taking payments. You should also have cash on hand too, in case people do pay with large bills. Just a suggestion, but having a sign listing what forms of payment you take may save you some stress. That way, you're not having to constantly repeat yourself and people have a heads up before they approach you.
Who are you bringing from your shop? Again, know the audience you're serving and the capabilities of your team. Essentially you have four roles to fill – a person to deal with the transactions, a person to write the shirt orders, a person coordinating the orders, and a printer. If it's a large event and you're a large shop, bring four or more staff members to do the jobs. If it's a smaller gig, you could bring two people where one person works with the customers while the other does the printing.