More Live Silk Screening at Reggae ‘pon the Mountain

Reggae posterRight on the heels of printing live the Topanga Film Festival, we asked ourselves two questions:

Will we ever get the all the ink out of our nails?

What kind of mischief can we get into this month?

The second question was answered right away and we somehow fell into printing live at the 5th Annual Reggae ‘pon the Mountain festival. As it turns out, this is no backyard bongo night with a coupla dudes and some Jamaican beer. This festival is huge. Julian Marley, Black Uhuru, Quinto Sol, DJ True Haze, and a couple thousand reggae fans crammed onto a baseball field in the Santa Monica Mountains.

This is the first year they’ve sold festival t-shirts and we were proud to print them. As always there were some unique challenges to getting them done. One of the things that keeps us from falling asleep at the wheel is that nothing is ever the same in screen printing. There’s always something new to get our blood pumpin’.

In this case, they had a poster design that was in all the shades of the rainbow and they wanted to use a similar design on the shirts. Printing CMYK process shirts wouldn’t be a problem, but the budget had to stay at bare minimum if the festival organizers wanted to break even or actually turn a profit.

The first thing we did was pick up the existing design and turn it into something that would print economically. I grabbed my ninja Wacom stylus and went to work. I converted their poster design into a few versions that would print in one, two, or three spot colors.

Then the festival team threw us a curve. They asked if we could print the main logo in black, and add a splash of three colors (reggae flag in red, green and yellow) behind it somehow. Hmm. Yes? Yes! Yes we can!

I created one screen that was essentially a fat, giant brush stroke. My idea was that I would print all three colors together in one stroke, letting the edges mix to form a smooth gradient. It’s always tricky to print this way, because you can’t just plop down more of one color as you go, you have to clean away some of the old ink so it doesn’t get too muddy. It’s definitely a custom print, as no two shirts are exactly alike.

We think the results turned out wicked awesome:

reggae screen-color swipe reggae tee print

They not only sold out of these shirts, we printed plenty of one-color versions live. We printed them on our stock tees and some very sweaty shirts that were doffed just for the occasion.

That was the longest day we’ve printed live so far. From setup to pack out, we were “on” for a full 11 hours. Many thanks to our friend Hilary from Peace Tree Healing who kept us company and served as our personal carnival barker.

Before we even ask ourselves two new questions, we already have answers:

Yes, our shoulders and knees will eventually heal.

What we’re getting into next is more live printing at Vegan Oktoberfest on October 4th in Santa Monica. Come see us! Go here to get your tix and we’ll keep you posted.


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