The Art of Screen Printing T-shirts
One of the most important parts of a band on tour is having merchandise to sell. While it would be nice to have a new record for each tour, it’s not always feasible. The one thing that can be easily changed tour to tour is the shirts a band sells.
If you have ever seen Lemuria on tour (or visited their webstore), you know they have a constantly revolving line of shirts year round. They are able to do this thanks to the screen printing company Alex Kerns co-owns called ArgyBargy Printing.
When I lived in Buffalo, I spent many days and nights hanging out with Biff (the screen pulling 50% owner of ArgyBargy) while he cranked out various screen print jobs. As someone who sells many Lemuria shirts on tour, I thought the people who have bought them might be interested to see how and where they are made.
If you’ve ever tried screen printing, you will know that it’s not easy to get good results. It takes a lot of skill and practice to perfect, as well as A LOT of upper body strength to get a good and even pull of ink over the screen every time.
The ArgyBargy screen printing shop reminds me of a dad’s garage that punks moved into and took over. Most surfaces are covered in stickers and the floor is accidentally decorated with paint and paper scraps. Blasting from the speakers in the shop, Biff is usually listening to everything from Ke$ha to Killed by Death comps.
There’s something about being around other people creating things that sparks creativity. I could fill a notebook with all the ideas and projects i’ve thought of while watching Biff crank out hundreds of shirts at 2am.
It’s a weird circle of life type of feeling when you sell someone a shirt and think to yourself “I saw that being printed”. Even though I didn’t personally print it, it was always rewarding when someone would be super excited about a shirt design.
When you’ve been on tour for weeks at a time and you load, unload, display, sell, and count 100’s of shirts everyday, you gain a new appreciation for the time and effort that goes into creating and printing the design.
Next time you buy a shirt from a band, think about all the steps that it had to take to get to you. A lot of work goes into it, especially if it has a picture of a ‘Log Lady’ on it.