A PASSION FOR PRINTING QUALITY T-SHIRTS
Visible Art’s passion for printing quality T-Shirts and commitment to customer service are the primary reasons why the successful Cardiff-based company has built a strong reputation and a loyal customer base.
Until recently the company focussed solely on screen printing techniques, but its investment in two Epson SureColor SC-F2000 printers, supplied by DTG Solutions, has introduced digital, direct-to-garment, printing for the first time.
Rob Trigg set up the company in 2003 and today has a 12-strong team of skilled designers and printers. “The Epson SureColor SC-F2000 printers have had an immediate impact on our business”, says Rob. “It’s a terrific machine for screen print firms like us and we can now produce short-runs of 1-100 high-quality T-shirts, hoodies, bibs and bags. With digital the more colours the better because we don’t have to make multiple screens. From approved artwork on a computer screen to finished T-Shirt takes seconds, so producing a single T-Shirt is easy and we can produce, for example, 40 dark T-Shirts with a full colour image on our two Epson SureColor SC-F2000 printers in just 30 minutes. We used to turn about five jobs away every day and now we don’t.
“We also use the Epson SureColor SC-F2000 printers to produce multiple size samples for long run orders which will ultimately be screen printed. Not only does the colour match really well, but we can produce four shirts in less than half an hour, instead of half a day. It saves us about £600 in saved manpower and production time.”
T-Shirts for promotion firms comprises 60% of Visible Art’s business. The Cardiff area is rich in sports clubs and the art scene is very active – both of which generate steady business for Visible Art, alongside school wear and T-shirts for major brands. The company has a strong philanthropic philosophy and helps local students and artists to learn screen printing techniques through The Printhaus arts collective - one of the largest screenprinting studios in South Wales.
This activity has, in turn, benefitted Visible Art. “We are finding that students we helped five or more years ago are coming back to us with commercial orders from the companies they now work for,” says Rob. “We have always worked closely with artists and photographers and, during the economic downturn when commercial orders dropped, the volume of artisan business grew.
“While we are becoming more internet-based, we like face-to-face interaction with our customers, and spending time to get the best results for them. It pays dividends in the long term and ensures repeat business. We don’t compete on cost but we do compete on quality. Whatever we do – the quality has to be the best which is why we had to choose a digital T-Shirt printer that produced the best results.”
Before choosing the Epson SureColor SC-F 2000, Rob spent a long time testing a variety of different digital direct-to-garment T-shirt printers. “I chose a challenging, multi-colour, design and then evaluated quality, washability and longevity. Alongside the image quality and white ink performance, washability is one of the most impressive features of the Epson SureColor SC-F2000. Even though washing at 30 degrees is recommended, I washed an Epson printed T-Shirt at 90 degrees, six times in a row, and it was still good, while other brands cracked and peeled.
“I held out for the new SureColour SC-F2000 because I believe in the Epson brand and the reputation of its engineering and ink, and I know I can rely on their support if I need it,” says Rob. “It’s only in the last couple of years that digital T-Shirt printing has reached a stage that it delivers the high level of quality and washability for a reasonable investment that we are known for and Epson hits the spot with its total solution. DTG Solutions, who supplied the printers, has been fantastic and provided excellent advice and service.”
Visible Art aims to be carbon neutral within the next couple of years and its new solar panels already makes it 100% carbon neutral during the summer. As a result, alongside the one-step, fast-turnaround, production benefits of the Epson SureColor SC-F2000 printers, the environmental benefits of using digital direct-to-garment printers, are also important to Rob: “Screen printing uses a lot of consumables compared to digital printing where the only waste product is the cleaning fluid which we recover. It’s an important factor.”
Finally, why did Rob decide to buy two SureColor SC-F2000 printers? “To maximise production from the start,” he says. “These printers are so simple to operate that one person can easily run both – at the same time. In fact you could potentially run three in sequence. As long as the artwork is right - the results are right.”