You probably know Nothing Too Fancy as the retail shop downtown with Tennessee themed t-shirts and tons of 80s memorabilia, but did you know that our print shop isn’t just for our Union Ave store? Every day of the week, the NTF print shop is rolling out custom order tees for customers near and far. Here’s a little behind the scenes look at the Nothing Too Fancy Print Shop.
You may recognize our building by the Greetings From Knoxville mural painted on the side - this mural was done by Greetings Tour (@greetingstour on instagram) and earned us first place in the 2017 Community Improvement Awards!
Our print shop sports a second mural on the loading dock door, created by our friend John Paul O’Grodnick - you can read more about this piece a few blog posts back.
We’re pretty proud of the beautiful exterior of our space, but inside our print shop is where the magic really happens! Once upon a time, this space served as a boat factory, which is why our custom order sample room features a beautiful wooden boat, built right here in the 1950s and captained by our friend Fancy Bones.
There's no boat building going on in here anymore, though. We spend our days printing shirts, bandannas, sweatpants, tote bags - just about any printable item. We start with a design.
When a shirt order is placed, designs are separated into layers by color and printed out on transparent film.
The film is taped to a silkscreen stretched over a metal frame and put into a UV exposure unit. Through this process, the image is burned onto the screen as a negative space. Each color in a given design will be printed with a different screen as a single layer of the final image.
Each of these screens represents an individual layer of a popular Nothing Too Fancy store design. Can you spot any of your faves?
Depending on what kind of blank shirt has been selected for an order, we either pull shirts from backstock on hand at the shop or order shirts from the supplier of choice - most of the tees in our store are printed on Allmade Apparel.
Next, ink colors are chosen. We print in sustainable and eco-friendly water-based inks created by Green Galaxy Co. Any custom color can be mixed from their wide range of options and we use the Pantone color mixing system so orders are printed exactly to specifications. Before you ask, yes, sometimes the thicker inks are mixed with a humble kitchen mixer.
Remember those screens we burned designs onto? Before they can go on the press for printing, they’re taped around the edges to make sure that the ink only goes where we want it to, as exhibited here by Nick - the lightbox table helps us to see if there are any imperfections or tiny holes in the screen that could cause issues during the printing process.
Drum roll please - shirts are going on the press! Our head printer Chaz loads the screens in place and adjusts them onto our automatic ROQ press. This is a careful process as each of the screens must be perfectly aligned for each layer of the design to line up on the final product.
When all screens are loaded in and aligned, the proper ink color is loaded into each screen and we run some test prints to make sure each screen is printing as expected before printing on shirts for the final order.
Shirts are loaded one by one onto our press and they travel around on pallets to pass under a series of screens and flash units - the flash units hit the shirts with a blast of heat to set one ink color before another is printed on top of it.
Once the shirts have passed under each screen and every layer of the design is printed, they are carefully removed by hand as the ink is uncured at this phase. The shirts are sent through a dryer set at high temperatures that will cure the ink to ensure that the shirt can be worn and washed over and over.
When an order comes through the dryer, it’s finally complete! Orders are lovingly folded and boxed by hand and then labeled for shipment or pick up.
At the end of each order, screens are removed from the press and sent to the wash-out station. There, Chance washes each one out and either stores it away to be reprinted another time or reclaims the screen by removing the green emulsion coating - this process allows us to use the screens time and time again for many different designs.
While we’re busy printing shirts for you, Elvis the print shop dog often supervises from a perch in our custom sample room. Someone has to keep things running smoothly!
Thank you for joining us on this Print Shop photo tour. Need custom shirts for your business, event, friend group, fan club, or anything else? Send all custom order inquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you’re ordering from us already, be sure to take advantage of our new refer a friend program to get 15% off for you and a friend when they place a custom order with us.
STOP IN AND SEE US ON UNION AVENUE IF YOU’RE IN TOWN – AND IF NOT, NO WORRIES, YOU CAN ORDER YOUR FAVORITE T-SHIRT RIGHT HERE ON OUR WEBSITE. FOR CUSTOM ORDERS, PLEASE EMAIL INFO@NOTHINGTOOFANCY.COM AND BE SURE TO ASK ABOUT PRINTING ON ALLMADE.
YOU CAN STAY IN THE KNOW ABOUT WHAT WE'RE UP TO BY FOLLOWING US ON FACEBOOK (@NOTHINGTOOFANCY.KNOXVILLE) AND INSTAGRAM (@NOTHINGTOOFANCYKNOXVILLE) THANKS FOR SHOPPING LOCAL, Y’ALL!