Can I see a sample screen printed t-shirt?

You work for a small organization and you’re about to order 200 screen printed t-shirts. This is a huge order and a lot of money. Naturally you want to see a sample t-shirt. Why are so many screen printers (read: all screen printers) loath to print up a sample tee for you? Let’s take a quick look into the question. (skip to the last paragraph if you’re just interested in solutions!)

neon screen printing ink

One of the biggest costs in any custom t-shirt order is the set-up and clean-up of the project. In order to make your final screen printed product look its very best, we take time to do each and every step carefully. This includes: the digital artwork preparation, ordering the blank t-shirts and preparing custom digital mock-ups. On the press it includes the actual creation of the screen, making sure everything is lined up correctly, mixing the ink colors, and doing a test print. And then there’s clean-up: scraping the ink for re-use, cleaning the ink off the screens, taking off the tape, and ultimately, reclaiming the screen so that it can be reused for a future job.

screen printing ink close up

I know, lots of technical gabbidy-gook. But the point is that there’s a lot of prep and clean-up in screen printing. Unfortunately, whether you’re printing 1 t-shirt or 8,709, the time involved in setting up is the same. I don’t mean to knock screen printing at all. Once everything is set-up it’s the absolute best and quickest way to get quality images on apparel.

screen printing ink on screen

But creating a custom sample is screen printing’s kryptonite. With that being said, there are some solid options when you want a screen printed sample:

  • You can get a sample in your design and we’ll do the entire process above. This is the truest way to see exactly what you’re going to get, but it’s also the most expensive. Custom screen printed samples start at $75 for one color of ink.
  • You can get a sample, but have it printed with a direct-t0-garment printer (DTG). This is useful for seeing the placement on the shirt, the approximate ink color, the size of the design, and the quality/feel of the shirt. But the ink is slightly different than the screen printing ink that will be used for your bulk order of tees. A custom DTG t-shirt sample is around $20.
  • With every order we provide a free digital mock-up. We use this to make sure that we are on the same page as you, the customer. We use your artwork and create a JPEG image that shows the approximate colors (ink and t-shirt), placement, and size of the screen printing. If something doesn’t look right (“Can we lower the print a little bit on the back?”) we will adjust the mock-up prior to printing until it’s perfect.
  • If you’re interested in seeing a sample screen printed t-shirt we have plenty that we can send you for free. The tee won’t have your specific design on it but it will give you a sense of the look, feel, and quality of our work.
  • Have a specific apparel item in mind but want to make sure it’s as great as you think it is? We’ll send you a sample of the item for $20. And if you end up making an order we’ll credit your account $20 so that the sample ends up being free!
Send us an email if you want to learn more about samples or want to order one – we’d love to help out however we can!
Here are some examples of digital mock-ups we’ve made for customers. This helps make sure your order comes printed exactly as expected.
Boston College law school screen printing t-shirt digital mock-up
wedding screen printing t-shirt digital mock-up
crossfit brigewater neon screen printing t-shirt digital mock-up