Terry Combs is a 30+ year veteran of the garment printing industry. He is an industry teacher and consultant through the website TerryCombs.com, offering hands on and online classes. And, he is one of the 2 Regular Guys talking garment decorating every Friday at 2RegularGuys.com.

1 Response to About

  1. Carol Dillon says:

    I bought your DTG book a few days ago, since I’m new to the industry. Lots of good information (a lot of it I knew, but it was great to have things confirmed by an expert… the info on spoilage was particularly comforting since I thought I was just screwing up). I did want to mention that under blanks suppliers you list both broder and alpha and they are now one company (since I’m new, I’m not sure how long ago that happened).

    Also, I have been tortured over getting the quality of prints that I expected… sharp and bright colors. I know it’s not the art work (I’ve been a designer since the mid-80s and know Photoshop & Illustrator at an expert level and I fully understand the issues with CMYK printing). My problem was getting used to the dulling from the ink seeping into the fabric. I only mention this because I FINALLY found a fix and thought you might want to add it to the book. There is a product called Image Armor Pretreat for Lights (for white & light fabrics) and the results it gives totally blew me away. The colors are brighter and the lines crisper… the blacks are much blacker too! Not only that, I’ve washed my test prints 4 or 5 times now with absolutely NO fading (the fading was the other issue I was unhappy with). And in addition, it lets me print on 100% polyester (or blends) with fantastic results and no washout afterwards…honestly, you’d think the image was silkscreened! (Of course, this only works on light fabrics.) I also got a sample of their 2 dark pretreat formulas, but haven’t tried them (darks have not been nearly as problematic since the white ink holds the ink out from the fabric and keeps it sharper and brighter). The only comment I’d add on this pretreat is that it can add a little stiffness to the fabric, but the first time you wash the item it is gone and the print quality is so dramatically better I don’t even mind it (or the extra work to pretreat). I think quality is paramount…but then I’m an anal retentive designer, so maybe that’s just me.

    In any case, I swear I don’t work for the company or get any kickback for testimonials, I just thought it might be something that was worth adding for struggling new DTG printers like me.

    I hope you don’t mind suggestions, but one other topic I was hoping would be covered was the issue of inventory. As you noted in the book, many of us are home-based and don’t have the space or the resources to carry huge inventory. Since I’m new to the shirt biz entirely, I have no idea what sizes or colors are the most popular or would made sense to keep on-hand vs. ordering them as needed. Perhaps this is beyond the scope of a book like yours, but a short coverage of the topic would be invaluable. Something along the lines of… “Most people who buy custom t-shirts are between the ages of ___ and ___ and the sizes that are most often ordered are men’s large and x-large. The most popular colors seem to be…. Even small print shops should probably keep a small inventory on hand. A good rule of thumb would be X shirts in the most popular sizes (which are: ____, ____, ____) for each popular color…etc. etc.”
    Maybe there is no way to know that information, but in most industries someone has done studies that help define this type of thing. As an expert and someone who talks to a lot of printers I was thinking if anyone knew where to find this info it would be you. Perhaps I’m wrong, but I think much of these considerations are fairly unique to the DTG world BECAUSE of the element of customization that allows someone to order a single shirt or piece. That seems to require a certain amount of inventory on-hand since ordering for each individual order would be both cost and time prohibitive. (This is why I was hoping it would be covered in your book.)

    Also, the issue of how many brands to stock (or offer)…how many options. Just a rough idea of what makes sense. I know you mentioned the catalogs suppliers provide, but is it really a good idea to offer up that much choice? This is something I’m struggling with intensely right now. I think the majority of people don’t care… they just want a nice, good quality shirt for a reasonable price. Of course there are some who want a more fitted style or are willing to pay for quality or hip/snob factor (like American Apparel), or something special like organic cotton, but surely there must be limits… like would it make sense to have a “bargain” “basic, good quality” and “superior quality” option… or is even that too much? Maybe I’m just overthinking this. Honestly, it’s something I hadn’t even considered when jumping into this business and now I’m finding that I’m overwhelmed by it.

    Also, I’ve discovered that the quality of the fabric makes a huge difference in DTG print quality (and, of course, as your book mentions, 100% cotton or other natural fiber is the best). From asking others and searching online resources I’ve determined that ringspun 100% cotton shirts generally work best for DTG, but also that there are other factors that can cause problems even then (e.g., Gilden has a ringspun cotton line, but to make it feel softer they apparently “buff” it or something which causes it to be a little fuzzy and that can seriously impact the print quality as it catches the ink).

    And then there are the other items like cotton canvas bags. I’ve been told that many of them seem to have been treated during manufacturing and develop an unpleasant odor when heat cured. Since one of my main markets is going to be travel agents who specialize is groups, I think bags are going to be big, but I have no idea how to determine which might develop that odor and it seems like that could be a disaster with clients rejecting them. I also know you can print on other substrates (wood, glass, stretched canvas), but finding any information on that is pretty hard. It would be nice if there were some kind of guide (or maybe a chapter in your book) that discusses these topics for new participants in the DTG arena like me… even if they weren’t covered in minute detail.

    In any case, I’m not criticizing your book. I think it was great. Just making suggestions in case you update it or publish a second edition.

    Thank you for listening.

    Carol Dillon
    Dillon Ink, LLC

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s