Traveller in the Making

A few of you fine folks have been asking us to share a bit more behind the scenes of how we create our adventure inspired designs. So as we were creating our spanking new TRAVELLER design we thought we’d take the opportunity to show you the process we go through…which is a little bit more involved than just pressing “print”.

  1. A dog rough sketch

Most of our designs start their journey from idea to reality with a terrible sketch from me (Mark Musgrave), and this was no exception…

The first draft in my sketch book

2. Let’s get digital

If you’re anything like me then you can’t draw for toffee as they say…or as I say anyway. But I can use the shape builder and pen tool on Adobe Illustrator. So the next stage for me was to create the design digitally.

3. Tracey Tracey

Next I needed to trace over the design so I stuck tracing paper to my screen to keep it in place and drew around the design carefully with a pencil not pressing too hard of course.

4. Darker lines

Next, you take the tracing paper off the laptop screen go around all the edges again with a softer pencil (I use 2B)and press hard so all the lines are nice and dark.

5. Scribble Scribble

Next I flipped the tracing paper over and stick it to a piece of lino using our trusty masking tape. I then scribbled on the reverse side of each part of the design. But why? I hear you ask, well…

6. Pure Magic

Ta-daaa. So I’ve now imprinted the mirror image of my design onto the lino ready for cutting out to make a block ready for printing my design.

7. Carve it up

Now it’s the fun part, carving the design out the lino to make a block ready for printing. I carved out the pieces of lino which I didn’t want the ink to touch.

8. inkin’ up

Next it was time to get my hands dirty so I used a roller to transfer the ink onto the lino.

9. Printin’

Next I place a piece of plain paper on top of my inked up design and applied pressure with my hands around the whole design to make sure the design printed evenly across the whole design.

10. Repeat.

I did around 15 different prints trying out different amounts of ink and applying pressure using various implements such as the back of a spoon and a metal ruler — each of which creating their own unique effect. There’s no magic number, I just kept printing until I was happy with the texture that was created.

11. Let’s get digital (again)

We next needed to prepare our design for screen printing. This means scanning the artwork back in and converting it to half tone so that it prints the details well through the silk screen mesh.

12. Greasing up

Next it was time to prepare the design for screen printing. first we needed to created the acetate — have the design on a translucent piece of paper. The old school way of doing this is printing the design on some standard office paper, then using regular vegetable oil which makes the paper see-through and the black ink extra bold. Pretty low-fi right?

13. De-grease

We place the oily acetate with some newsprint under a weighted top to remove any excess oil. We don’t want greasy fingers now do we?

14. Coating

So this is the blank silk screen we’re going to use to make our stencil for screen printing. It’s basically just a really fine mesh.

Next we coat our screen in a special photo-sensitive emulsion and let it dry.

15. Decent exposure

This special emulsion means that when it gets exposed to the super bright light it goes hard and blocks the screen up. BUT because our design is bold black, this blocks out the light so this part of the screen stays wet.

We expose the screen to the uber bright light for 2 minutes.

Exposing the screen to a bright light to “bake” the design into the screen to create a stencil

16. Shower Time

We now need to wash off all the emulsion which hasn’t gone hard…ie where our design is. So we’ve now effectively just created a stencil.

Washing out the emulsion which hasn’t “baked” into the screen because our design blocked the light.

17. High and dry

Leave it to dry.

Now our stencil needs to dry, then it’s ready for printing the large print on the reverse of the top.

18. Inky inky

We then mix up the ink colour we want and put a dollop on the screen.

Forest ink ready for printing the small chest print for our white t-shirts.

19. Pullin’

Then we hand pull the ink through the screen onto our tees and tops using a squeegee. Getting an even pressure and a smooth continuous movement is important to make sure enough ink is pushed through the screen, but not too much. Needless to say, this takes a fair bit of practice.

Hand pulling the ink through the screen onto the t-shirt
Close up of our forest ink pocket print

19. Drying

The ink then needs to be heat cured so that it doesn’t wash out the lovely design when you pop it in for it’s post adventure wash. So we use this tunnel drying which is like a larger version of those toasters you get in most hotels. Sort of.

In. Drying our Melange navy front pocket print
Out. the ink is now heat cured and good to go!

20. Repeat

We then repeat steps 12–18 for each different piece of printing on a design. So for this design we had a small print on the front, large print on the back and an inside neck print (it’s all about the details)

21. Adventure ready

…now they’re ready for taking on your next adventures in the forest or concrete jungle.

Photography by Ashley Smith Photography model @ashiepowers

So there you have it, the process for making one of our lino cut designs. some of our other designs use a different process to create the artwork e.g. pencil sketch and ink but step 11–20 are always the same.

Not just “pressing print” eh?

Thanks for reading

Mark Musgrave