They say there’s no such thing as a dumb question… but I bet that most screen printers would disagree. It never fails: as soon as someone finds out that you’re a screen printer or even gets a whiff that you might be able to help them bring their “awesome” t-shirt idea to life, they inevitably ask,
"How much for shirts?"
Although you’re sure to get a barrage of dumb follow-up questions, it’s that one that is the equivalent of nails on a chalkboard for me. It's like finding out someone is a bartender and asking, "How much for a drink?" or asking a car salesman, "How much for a car?" It should be obvious, but let’s discuss why it’s a dumb question.
Here’s what I need to know before I can give you an idea of how much it’s going to cost “for shirts”:
WHAT ARE YOU PRINTING?
What does your design look like? How big is it? How many colors does it have? Are you printing in one location or multiple on each shirt? A simple “I’M WITH STUPID” will cost less than a multi-colored, oversized monstrosity with four different print locations.
The type of shirt, or garment in general, will also affect the cost. Do you need a boxy cotton tee? Something that is a lighter blended fabric? Long sleeve, short sleeve, baseball tee? All of these options have a different price tag attached.
Like Costco, buying in bulk is the key to keeping the cost low. If you come at me with, “IDK, a dozen?” I’m likely to charge you much more per piece for the amount of work it takes just to set the job up than if you were to print 50 or 100+.
WHEN DO YOU NEED IT?
While my specific turnaround times are usually around the two-week mark, there’s always the possibility of rushing it. Oh, you needed these shirts yesterday? Well, prepare to pay the piper for your procrastination, pal. Each day less that I have to do what you’re asking is a money multiplier.
Before you slide into my (or any other printer’s) DMs to drop an unsolicited “How much for shirts?” bomb, gather your specifics - quantity, design complexity, apparel type, ink choices, print locations, and turnaround time. Your screen printer will appreciate the thoroughness, and you’ll dodge the cringe-worthy misstep and retain a bit of credibility. A little preparation goes a long way in avoiding the blistering brand of naivety. Just like when buying a car or ordering a drink, doing some research keeps you from looking like a sucker.