Live Printmaking Culture

If you live in Denton you probably own an abundance of locally printed T-shirts. You also probably have to push or kick the over packed dresser drawer shut every time you go to get a T-shirt out. If you took the time to lay out all of these shirts you might begin to see memories sprawled out in mesh and ink. These locally screen printed shirts tend to tell a timeline of past events that are musically driven nostalgia. 

The Dentonite sat down with Pan Ector Industries and Nice Dudes Servicing Craft to discuss the symbiotic relationship between Denton events and live screen-printing. Nickie Blair from Nice Dudes began screen-printing about four and half years ago and began live screen-printing one year ago. “I began last year exactly on September the twenty-second live printing for [Bearded Monk’s] opening,” says Blair.  According to Blair, it became clear that around that time live screen printing was becoming a popular trend at many of Denton’s events. Blair says, “I really like the way Sunday Prints and Pan Ector do it and it kind of made me want to step up my game so I think competition is healthy and there is room for all of us to be apart of it.” Michael Little from Pan Ector says that live printing at these different events has become a core center for their business. 

photo by Zack Huggins

The act of live printing isn’t just a golden opportunity to make some cash for these businesses it’s also a way of self-expression for the creator and the buyer.  Little from explains that printing, in general, has a history of communication and expression attached to it. “Print has had a long-standing tradition of spreading any certain word and it has maintained a whole within a musical crowd,” says Little. According to Little, Pan Ector saw an opportunity to promote bands they love and build a bond between music and live screen-printing. “It started with us doing our first live printing event I guess before we were even a business at Gloves for a print show at the end of our [college] semester…we did live printing in the main area while bands played,” says Little. This event created a way for artists to come together on one platform. Screen printers and musicians could display their creativity and admiration for one another. 

Blair from Nice Dudes explains the buyer’s perspective during these types of events.
“Concerts and live music go hand-in-hand with live screen printing…[the shirts] have a sentimental value. You associate them with good times. The music is what drives you to the concert and the T-shirt is how remember the time you had at the concert,” says Blair. He also addresses the  phenomenon of college students measuring mile stones with buying screen-printed shirts. “For a lot of students Oaktopia was probably their first big festival, and being away from home, so it was probably a big moment for a lot of those students, and maybe that shirt helps tie that feeling to that memory,” says Blair.

photo by Mateo Granados

When asked how screen printers become prepared for music and/or festival events Little and Blair explains that it’s a mixture of professionalism and community involvement. Little describes the process when an event coordinator calls for their business to be involved. “We do a lot of brand consultation with event coordinators and help them figure out what they want and need…it ties into the amount of education we have with whole sale screen printing or any kind of screen printing,” says Little. 

Little and Blair both explain that what is done at the event is only the tip of a very planned out process. Blair says planning can be three to four months out.
 Little explains that live screen printing at these events relieves event planners from worrying about how many shirts they may need or figuring out how much they can do with their budget, and keep them from over or under ordering. “As professionals, we know what demographics to expect so we can stock accordingly and help guide them,” explains Little. Community involvement and who you know also play a role in working at these events as Blair explains, “ We know Tiffany from Karma Yoga and we do a lot of work for them…and I’m on a committee for Denton Community Market so I know a lot of those guys.” 

Pan Ector and Nice Dudes utilize live printing for a few important reasons. They, of course, have a business that needs to make money to pay the bills; but, they also want to become apart of an event that is meaningful to so many. Both businesses do a great deal of charity events which benefit various non-profits and charitable organizations in Denton. A sign of a great Denton business is one that also gives back to the community.

Photos by Mateo Granados, James Coreas, and Zach Huggins
Header image design by Jason Lee