Since I’ve been in the printing industry, I’ve found myself checking out t shirts and their print techniques everywhere I go. While gaining a wealth of knowledge, I’ve gotten some of dirty looks from people wearing interesting shirts. My research has boiled down to one simple truth. As much as I strive for the perfect print job, the general public doesn’t seem to care. I see pin holes, out-of-register prints and placement issues. Consumers generally accept a decent level of variance in screen printing quality. Finding the “perfect” screen printed t-shirt in a retail store can be like catching a unicorn. Most minor imperfections are generally accepted. However, while watching one of my favorite 80’s movies, I can’t help but be astounded by the sloppy craftsmanship that went into a now iconic t-shirt.
In the 1984 comedy, Beverly Hills Cop, Axel Foley (Eddie Murphy) wears a vintage looking heather grey “Mumford Phys. Ed. Dept.” t-shirt. The simple collegiate tee has a starring role, appearing in most of the movie and is now sold in many pop culture t shirt shops. Understandably, the production didn’t want their big star feeling less than fresh, so they made many to swap out as they filmed. As you watch, you can clearly see the Mumford graphic creeping down Murphy’s chest. As I said earlier, it’s generally acceptable to have some placement variance but this graphic goes from 3 inches down from the collar to what looks like 10. It’s almost at his belly button in some scenes. Here are some screenshots from 3 scenes so you can see what I’m talking about.
First, a good looking athletic T Shirt. The graphic is printed about 4 fingers down from the collar which is a good placement for a basic chest print on a unisex tee.
In this scene, the print has crept down a couple inches which still would be acceptable by most but made me tilt my head and say, “Did they wear their graphics lower in the 80’s?”.
Lastly, the screen printer’s Pièce de résistance. I’m not sure why the costume designer, director or actor for that matter allowed this version to make it on screen. If you could see the faces on those leather suits, you could see them making fun of Eddie Murphy’s shirt.
This may seem nitpicky to some of you. If it does, ask yourself this. What print mistakes are you willing to pay for and at what point do they become unacceptable? You don’t need to sacrifice print quality to get a good price.