start a screen printing business

Start a Screen Printing Business, Why did I Decide to be a Printer?

Why Did I start a screen printing business? Hello my name is Cam Earven. I am a licensed screen printer located in Phoenix Arizona. Before I go into this article I would like to note that I am in no way a writer, I will do my best to use correct grammar and punctuation but I make no promise’s that I will do it correctly.

My quest to become a screen printer was a long and experimental process. 9 years ago I had no goal to be a business owner. I was a street artist, I wanted to make posters and was looking for a way to create cheap posters that I could wheat paste on walls around Phoenix, and Tempe Arizona. My first print came in the form of a hand cut stencil and black spray paint on 8.5 by 11 inch paper. I became bored with the small posters and started looking for bigger paper stock. I found a place called Kelly Paper that sold huge rolls of white paper for $30 bucks. I made huge stencils and started churning out hundreds of stenciled posters during the day. I went out at night and pasted them up. During this time some of my friends wanted the logo on a shirt so I decided to stencil the logo directly onto the t-shirts. This was my first shirt print. We were out one night at a bar when random dude walked into the bar wearing one of the shirts I had stenciled. It was a rush for me to see someone I had never met wearing a shirt I had made. Needless to say I was hooked.

I decided that I wanted to make better shirts of my logo to give to friends so I began looking into screen printing. I invested months and months and hundreds of dollars just figuring out what worked. At the time there wasn’t allot on the internet about it, everything was trial and error. I made my own press and screen printing frames. I tried exposing my screen’s with halogen lights, that was a complete flop, I figured out that the sun worked the best, it is still the best exposure unit available. I tried curing huge prints with a heat gun before figuring out that the home oven was the best solution. When the job was printed I tried to reclaim screens with soap water, and bleach, because I heard some where that it would work and was way cheaper than buying the right chemical. It didn’t work I got the right chemicals from the supply house.  There are no short cuts in printing.

Time passed I kept at it and eventually my prints got better. I hadn’t decided to start a screen printing business but I was figuring the process out. And my shirts were looking good. I did my first print job for my boss at the time. I didn’t think anything of it but I thought it was fun I didn’t make any money from it that why my boss was willing to let me give it a shot. and they tuned out good. When he took the shirts and was happy with them I knew I wanted to start printing professionally. problem was I didn’t have the money to get all of the equipment to print on a professional level. So i did the next best thing, Got a job at a screen print shop as a Designer. That place was a huge learning experience I saw how the business worked. I learned the correct way to set up artwork and how to deal with clients. It was good that I was learning so much because I wasn’t making much money. But I was saving every cent that I could and getting my hands on every area that i could. I also managed to talk to owner into letting me apprentice the screen printer. This was huge for me because I finally saw what I was doing wrong and how I could do things better. I worked there for two years saving what I could but I was still along way from having the necessary capitol to open my own shop. I got a lucky break from my old boss he called me asking if I would be willing to work in Texas making 20 bucks an hour. I took the job and worked my ass off for the next two years. I saved everything I could and started purchasing my equipment and putting it in storage. I finally had everything I needed to open up shop. I left my very good job and the rest is history.

This is my journal documents the trials and tribulations of owning and operating a Screen printing shop. I welcome all feedback as well as any pointers that my readers have to offer.

Thanks for Reading
Cam Earven