Posts by author:

Sleepy Dan

Sleepy Dan : Regular Printing Crew

by Sleepy Dan on February 1, 2013

Two weeks ago a new Crew Sweatie was released with help from Regular Printing, so I wanted to share a behind the scenes look at their shop process.

Sleepy Dan Regular Printing Wake Up Behind the Scenes

Heather blue crew is a perfect color for a tonal printing, so we mixed up a water based ink color to match the shirt, then got ready for the Regular Printing magic!

Sleepy Dan Regular Printing Wake Up Behind the Scenes

You wanna check out a short Video Of The Printing?

Sleepy Dan Regular Printing Wake Up Behind the Scenes

The studio is one of the cleanest I’ve seen and perfect for a master at work.

Sleepy Dan Regular Printing Wake Up Behind the Scenes

Scott and Shamsy are using a manual press so everything is hands on here!

Sleepy Dan Regular Printing Wake Up Behind the Scenes

Perfect placement and alignment is key when the sweatie is put on the pallet.

Sleepy Dan Regular Printing Wake Up Behind the Scenes

The water based ink is so soft compared to a plastisol print, that is why I use water based inks all the time… Especially for this super soft crew sweatshirt!

Sleepy Dan Regular Printing Wake Up Behind the Scenes

Each sweatie runs thru the dryer to cure the ink, then collected and folded up.

Sleepy Dan Regular Printing Wake Up Behind the Scenes

The limited run of 24 are complete, so extra ink is collected to clean the screens.

Sleepy Dan Regular Printing Wake Up Behind the Scenes

Then each sweatie gets a custom neck label sewn in by hand.

Sleepy Dan Regular Printing Wake Up Behind the Scenes

The little details like a embroidered sleeve applique make it perfect…

{ 0 comments }

Sleepy Dan : In And Out Of Sleep

by Sleepy Dan on January 16, 2013

Been a while since I shared a Behind The Design posting! So I’m excited to share this collaboration design I did with Dustin Cavazos for his In And Out Of Sleep album release party just before Christmas at Trees Dallas.

Sleepy Dan In And Out Of Sleep Dustin Cavazos Printed Threads Screen Print Process Behind The Design

I love working with typography so this layout started as a pencil sketch, then I played a little in Photoshop to get the details clean and contrasted. Then I vectored the layers and added some smaller shadow details…

Sleepy Dan In And Out Of Sleep Dustin Cavazos Printed Threads Screen Print Process Behind The Design

I wanted to keep this design as a single color print, so instead of using a solid color background for the type, I created a thin line underlay to create more detail depth to the type. With this level of detail, you need to use an amazing printer like Printed Threads!

Sleepy Dan In And Out Of Sleep Dustin Cavazos Printed Threads Screen Print Process Behind The Design

Petey and the team helped print the details perfectly. The team also loves to create silly videos for the product they love to print… Check It Out!

Sleepy Dan In And Out Of Sleep Dustin Cavazos Printed Threads Screen Print Process Behind The Design

Petey printed this design with a single color discharge gray, so the print is super soft and you can barely feel the print…

Sleepy Dan In And Out Of Sleep Dustin Cavazos Printed Threads Screen Print Process Behind The Design

The tonal black print is nice…

Sleepy Dan In And Out Of Sleep Dustin Cavazos Printed Threads Screen Print Process Behind The Design

I only printed 52 designs so when they are sold out they are gone forever!

Sleepy Dan In And Out Of Sleep Dustin Cavazos Printed Threads Screen Print Process Behind The Design

All the shirts have custom sewn labels from the Sleepy Dan studio.

Sleepy Dan In And Out Of Sleep Dustin Cavazos Printed Threads Screen Print Process Behind The Design

All the shirts were printed at the back neck with a collaboration design.

Sleepy Dan In And Out Of Sleep Dustin Cavazos Printed Threads Screen Print Process Behind The Design

Fans at the event loved them and I love working on collab designs! Keep in touch if you have a favorite collaboration shirt you wanna share…

 

{ 0 comments }

Sleepy Dan : Vinyl Thoughts Event Shirt Printing

by Sleepy Dan on March 19, 2012

An inspiring night requires an inspiring shirt design… The theme of this year’s Vinyl Thoughts event was Next Level. A retro video game tribute, so I had to create a shirt using one of my favorite games growing up, the classic Donkey Kong! With the help of Alexa Machine this shirt printing went perfect.

To line up a four color print on the press, you gotta tape one of the films to the pallet in the same spot you want all the prints. So you can line up all the screens in the press to that film, this is the basic registration of the print.

You will be able to see the film thru the negative space of the emulsified screen, and just gotta line them up perfectly and tighten the screws on the press…

Once all four screens are taped off on the back and loaded with the correct ink color, the printing begins!

This four station, six color manual press is perfect for two people to print at once. Just gotta print the colors in the correct order and communicate so no mistakes are made. Check out the final color printing

Then you get perfect prints like this! I wanted to design something with huge letters, so the levels of the Donkey Kong board were a perfect large surface area.

Hot off the press, I picked up the shirts and rushed over to the event where all the shirts sold out that night! I am reprinting some more shirts now, so they will be available on my Sleepy Dan web shop this week.

The two color back design showed off all the sponsors for this year’s event. The show was packed all night and has become such a hit for the up and coming Dallas vinyl arts culture.

I’m so proud to be part of this event and becoming a contributing vinyl designer. If you check out pics of the event and custom vinyls, I created a tribute to Mike Tyson’s Punch Out by creating two vinyl characters Bald Bull and King Hippo!

{ 3 comments }

Sleepy Dan : Customized Hood Sweatie

by Sleepy Dan on January 29, 2012

Sleepy Dan hood sweaties released in December, I had to release one cut n sew project for the first year so you can be sure there will be some more customized designs for the upcoming years! I can not emphasize enough, process is the most important part of any project. The rugby style hoodie is a design just recently hitting trend so I had to make some comfortable enough to bear the Sleepy Dan brand! In my day job as an apparel designer, I have learned how to work with embroidery shops to create apparel patterns, but sometimes several of the finishing steps have to be done on your own to save on cost. That’s how I was able to make these hoodies so affordable.

Coming from the manufacturer, I had to make some custom modifications past adding the logo embroidery appliques and the new custom neck labels for outerwear… This hoodie has several exposed cover stitch seams, so you can easily see it’s custom made, but the excess seam fabric had to be trimmed up a little more to be finished.

After finishing, the logo embroidery appliques are hand stitched to the garment, then the size labels are machine stitched into the neck seam. What makes this hoodie so special is the herringbone cotton twill neck seam, rugby placket, and hood seam edge. The time invested to this project is longer than a t-shirt design, but the fan and blogger reviews of the hood sweatie are amazing for the first cut n sew design. Research and development are a key role in the process of a successful project, so don’t overlook your process at any stage! Hope you got one before they sold out…

{ 2 comments }

Sleepy Dan: Creation of the Pillow Monster

by Sleepy Dan on December 16, 2011

After the inauguration of the Pillow Monster character at Artopia for the t shirt battle with Fur Face Boy, the design has been getting great reviews. Dallas Observer sponsors this annual event as their birthday party and I was proud to have their help bringing the Pillow Monster Lightning Strike design to life in the true nature of Frankenstein! So continuing with the success of this behind the design column, I decided to share the whole design process for this new character. The Pillow Monster will be involved in another design this coming year, so I am going to show how the idea began from concept, then sketching, then inking the layout, then vector the art for production of the printing.

The first step of the process is creating the concept. The Sleepy Dan branding has been so much fun to design for because there is a wide range of possible ideas that fall in line with the sleep theme. The Alarm Clock character was the beginning of the character side of the branding, reminding fans of our youthful side that used to be afraid of the dark and the possibility of things coming to life when you are unable to see them… Remember the clown doll from Poltergeist under the bed? Thanks, now I can’t even look at clowns any more!

Illustrating a complete character design for the brand, is a more complex project than people realize. But it’s the passion for the brand that keeps me going! Pencil sketching the concept takes several attempts to get the look right. Keeping in mind that the design needs to have more of a vertical layout to take advantage of the printable surface area of the shirt.

Making friends in the arts community is easy when you are giving back at the same time. Having friends with ill skills like Rico Ultraelectromagnetico to help with the character style was the first step to the Pillow Monster. I want to make sure that all my characters have the same appearance so they are easily understood to be a Sleepy Dan character, even if the design has no displayed type.

After making several sketches, better parts of the character will be remade in the next sketch. There is a constant improvement for the problem areas, till the whole design has the perfect layout. This is the fun part of the process but usually takes the longest, so you can’t get frustrated with levels of failure. Just gotta work thru them till you find successful revisions. Ask friends for constructive criticism, you have to learn to take the good advice with the bad, create a thick skin for necessary revisions cause this is the best time to make them…

I am sharing less than half of the sketching process for this project, so you can understand there are so many versions of progression for this design you can almost look at them like a flip book! Eventually you get to a sketched layout that best suits your concept vision from the start. All parts suddenly fit perfectly into place, then you can move onto revising the smaller details thru the inking process and using Adobe Photoshop.

Inking over the sketch allows you to see a clearer design layout, while creating deeper levels of detail. Usually after the first inking designs, you are confident to almost be there. But treat this stage just like the sketching stage, revision is still easily done now that details are clear, so get some more constructive criticism from your friends that you know will not leak the secret just yet…

Making final inking revisions gives you goosebumps! You wind up staring at the design for a couple days, 30 minutes at a time to make sure there is nothing else that needs to be changed. Then you can decide how many colors you want this design to be printed with, then create color layers of detail for the character scene. Inking new layers can be done in Adobe Photoshop or Adobe Illustrator, I prefer to use Illustrator because it makes the color separation so much easier to manipulate and revise.

Usually I start this stage, not by looking at the color I want, rather looking at the color details I want to involve, so use crazy contrasting colors… The Pantone colors used can be revised after the levels of detail are finished. The best way to decide colors of the print is to decide shirt color first. Figure out the background color of the design, then the character colors can easily be picked knowing what shirt trends are most successful. Research shirt brands over the web, see what colors are selling best for the season. You’d be surprised what a little research can tell you!

Printing shirts for your brand in this economy means planning out the profitability of the design. The more color you print, the more the shirt will cost, and shirts just don’t sell well the closer to $30 each you get. I advise to keep even the most complex designs to a maximum of four printed colors. There is no reason for you to use more color than that, also fans will have a harder time matching up their gear to the shirt, secretly all guys love to do this…

Any printer you use, will appreciate you color separating the art before you give to them. This means separating each color, so the printer knows what colors to put on each film layer they print, which will be used to make screens for your printing. Remove the questions from the process for the printer and your project will turn out the same way you give it to them. I prefer to have a design with the darkest color as the top detail. It’s easiest for the printing process to have the color layers beneath the darkest layer, that way the bottom layer edged are covered with the darker layer, insuring there will be no offset printing problems.

Give the printer the exact Pantone colors you want used in your design, they will be mixing ink to match the Pantone colors you give them. If you don’t give them exact colors, then you are opening the possibility they will not mix the right color you want to use. For the Pillow Monster design, I had to see the shirt color to pick printing colors since there is one tonal color specified in the shirt. The print might have looked weird if the navy color was too much of a red tone rather than a blue tone…

After the Artopia event, the extra shirts were added to the Sleepy Dan web shop. Check out the Artopia event blog posting and friends links on the posting to see lots of pics of the event! Maybe we will see you at Artopia 2012?

{ 2 comments }

Sleepy Dan: Printing SnapBacks

by Sleepy Dan on November 6, 2011

Sleepy Dan snapback hats released this week! Screen printing on shirts has been so much fun so I am working to print on new apparel bodies too. This is the first part of the Fall line addition, the second half will release by the end of November. These hats are USA made and printed at Classic Cap & Embroidery with a high density ink to give the graphic some texture. There are several types of printing texture you can use, but all are able to be printed thru a normal silk screen. Using a dense ink for printing, means using a lower count screen mesh to let the ink easily pass thru the screen onto your material.

This is a 95 count mesh attached to a small metal frame, custom made for printing on headwear. The emulsified screen has the new wake up graphic burned into it the same way a larger screen is made for printing on t shirts.

The thin flat metal frame is bendable and slides into this form shape. The form gives the screen a stable arch that matches the shape of the hat crown, so an even transfer of ink goes onto a non-level surface.

After the frame is secured into the form, the screen is taped off just like a larger t shirt frame. This makes sure no ink will leak around the edges of the emulsified screen.

The form is secured into the specialty headwear manual printing press. This setup is used with specialty headwear dryer, which is taller to fit hats and has the heating coil on the side rather than on the top like a t shirt dryer. This makes sure the ink printed on front of the hat is properly cured.

Normal ink can be combined with several different types of textured materials, to create a different texture print. The amount of ink has to be precisely combined with the correct amount of high density material to create the desired look during printing.

The headwear printing press looks very similar to a t shirt press, but the pallets are curved just like the screen and hat crown. A hat is positioned on the pallet and secured with a spring mechanism at the back, then the press is operated like this — LIVE PRINTING

After printing, the hat takes a 15 second run thru the dryer which activates the high density material and cures the ink to the hat.

Each hat has to be positioned perfectly on the small pallet surface so all graphics are printed in the correct area of the front crown. This process is tested several times till the desired graphic position is perfected for the project. The hats I printed have a five panel crown, so there is one front panel of the hat.

I tested the printing on some Flex Fit six panel hats, but not all of the prints came out well because the seam at the front of the hat did not allow perfect printing every time. The printing surface has to be perfectly flat for printing success. As with all printing, some mistakes happen and then some mistakes are a surprise success… Screen printing is an art form, so have fun with it!

The Classic Cap & Embroidery sewing team is amazing, the side woven label is attached with precise placement every time like this — LIVE SEWING

I made some interior woven labels for extra detail. They are again attached with amazing placement like this — LIVE SEWING

I hope this insight helps you design a better project, knowing how easy it is to get it done. I made this hat printing a limited edition only printing 30 khaki and 30 navy hats. Creating something original is so much fun, so I’m looking forward to making some new snapbacks for Spring 2012…

{ 1 comment }

Sleepy Dan: Printing Bed Bugs

by Sleepy Dan on October 20, 2011

Great to see you back at the Behind the Design column! The purpose of the column this week is to give you a behind the scenes look at the complete process for printing a shirt. It can be complicated and not many designers know all the steps that go into printing their creations, but the Sleepy Dan column aims to help by sharing experience. I work as the Creative Director for a domestic manufacturing company in Dallas called Classic Cap & Embroidery. Several of my projects will be made here so you can see the production being made on the factory floor. Being a better designer means understanding the production process you intend to use, then creating and laying out your design in a way that makes it easiest for the production to be successful. If you are not well informed, there is a good chance the printing company will not share your vision for the design, or have to charge you more to set up the art correctly for them to print. In this column, I intend to share the point of view for every type of production that Sleepy Dan uses. This week we printed the Halloween design which is the first of the Monster Under the Bed series!

The Sleepy Dan series one was printed on TulTex shirts because they are based in Texas, but moving forward I will be using Next Level shirts which is a step up in quality. I prefer a better quality shirt than all the name brands out there, but price is the battlefront for a sale so I am sure there are several shirt qualities as good as this or better, like American Apparel. The type of shirt and color you intend to use should be well planned out. Quality and price of the shirts you use is an overlooked detail when screen printing because you are so focused on the printing, you can forget that if the shirt is not comfortable and fits well, you will have trouble selling it no matter how cool the art is. Get to know all the shirt companies out there and what other brands are using. Look at shirt brands like types of cars, because there are so many different qualities and colors, then salesmen you have to purchase them from… All printing companies allow you to purchase outside shirts to ship to them for printing, or will help purchase the shirts for your project. But you must understand that if you purchase your shirts thru anyone other than the manufacturer, they will be marked up a little bit for each wholesaler, so I always suggest you purchasing directly thru the manufacturer. Just gotta allow for ordering and shipping time.

The first step to printing your design is making the films. A film is basically a dense black print on top of a transparent vellum. It’s printed with registration marks for each color you intend to use in your shirt. There is a setup fee for every color you print, so if you want to print more colors the shirt will cost more. A good design will not use more than several colors so the project can be profitable. The setup fee includes printing the film and burning the film image into the screen that will be used to make the printed shirt. The film can be stored for future reprinting, but reprinting is a sign of an uncreative brand. Make new designs cause there is lots of competition out there…

The film is carefully measured out to for center placement on the emulsified screen, so all screens made can keep good registration and all colors line up perfectly during printing so there is no offset printing of the colors. The film is scotch taped to the emulsified screen to keep placement for the burning process inside the exposure unit.

The “burning” process is basically like creating a photo. The screen is first thinly coated in a light sensitive photo emulsion liquid, dried in a dark room so the emulsion is not exposed, then the film attached to the screen is put into this vacuum sealed exposure unit for the process that exposes the image into the emulsion. The screen is not harmed in this “burning” process, so the screen can be reclaimed after printing for hundreds of future printing projects.

After exposure, a pressure washer is used to spray out the unexposed emulsified screen area. It easily washes out because the UV light did not hit this area. The exposed emulsion is hard and the unexposed emulsion is still water soluble. The exposed area is well adhered for the printing process and will need special chemicals to be removed from the screen after the printing is complete. This type of wash out booth is necessary for all burning and reclaiming of screens, it always creates a huge mess…

After wash out the screens are checked for perfect image translation and need to dry out completely. Screen sizes needed for your printing project depend on the art you want to use, up charges for larger or jumbo screens are an industry standard, so try to keep your art to a maximum 13 inch width size. The screens are basically a metal or wood frame with a screen permanently stretched over it. Screens have a mesh count which describes the amount of threads in a square inch size. The lower the thread count, the wider the holes in the screen, which means lower image resolution and more ink being pushed thru the screen onto your shirt. The higher the thread count, the smaller the holes, which means higher image resolution and less ink being pushed thru the screen to your shirt. The low side of a mesh count will be 80, which is what is used on large letters making a thick print. The higher side of a mesh count will be 305, which is what is used on a very fine detail image making a thin print. Normally I prefer to use a 195.

A dry screen means it can be taped off and made ready for printing. The bottom side border of the frame needs to be taped off so there’s no bleeding around the emulsion edges. Registration marks are left un-taped till after the frame is set into the press and first printing on a shirt is checked for screen alignment of all colors. Then you’re ready for production!

Working with an automatic press means much quicker production. There were only 60 shirts for this project printed, so it took about an hour to finish up the printing. This is a 10 color automatic and when properly run can output thousands of shirts a day, depending on how many people are running the machine.

Printing any project means you have to be able to create any color requested, so Classic Cap & Embroidery has a huge color mixing department. When sending your art to print, it’s helpful for you to pick the Pantone color you want to see on your shirt. This will help insure the color they mix will match exactly to the color you want. If you don’t pick the Pantone color, there is a higher probability for mismatch.

Using an automatic press means all the prints will have a machine’s perfect consistency. The press allows for adjusting the pressure used by the squeegee on the screen, so you can put more or less ink thru the screen. Check out a short video of the Bed Bugs shirt printing at the Sleepy Dan YouTube page.

The shirt is lined up on the platen board, so the print is centered on the shirt. Then the shirt rotates around to the corresponding color and is printed in order from least detailed layer first, then most fine detail layer last and making it the top layer. Between each color a flash unit will heat the shirt to cure the printed color, before moving onto the next color, so the previous printed color does not adhere to the bottom of the next screen color and make a mess for upcoming shirts.

The final shirt print runs thru a large conveyer dryer that super heats the shirts to fully cure all colors printed. The dryer is hot enough to cook a steak, but the shirt is in the dryer for about six seconds which will not harm the cotton.

To print on the back side of the shirt is the same to print on the front, but one side has to be fully cured before moving onto the back print, so the shirts have to be run thru the dryer twice. The Monster Under the Bed series print at the back neck is a simple one color, so the cost is just like printing one more color at the front. But the added value of having a back  design to display the limited edition appeal of the shirt, makes it really special.

After printing is complete, the screens have to be reclaimed which can be a messy project. Excess ink is removed from the screens, then screens are washed in eco friendly trapping system so the ink is not just washed down the drain. Then the screens are dipped in chemicals, scrubbed, and power washed to remove all emulsion from the screen so it can be used for the next printing process.

Private labeling your shirt means bringing it to a seamstress so the factory label can be un-stitched, removed, then your label can be sewn back in. It sounds like a simple process but it should be professionally done so the shirt’s factory seam looks unharmed.

Classic Cap & Embroidery has a screen printing department, embroidery department, and huge factory floor for cut & sew. The employees are very skilled and love working on fun projects like this. Having a cut & sew department means they have all the machine types to create anything out of fabric like headwear, clothing, or accessories. Having their help means that sky is the limit! So you will be seeing them create some great projects for Sleepy Dan.

Taking the shirts home to my printing lair, I am able to custom number all the shirts, so the Bed Bugs design is individually numbered 1-60. If you get one, your shirt is one of a kind and will not be reprinted! Check out the Sleepy Dan shop to see more images of the Monster Under the Bed series one.

{ 0 comments }

Sleepy Dan: Behind the Design

by Sleepy Dan on October 12, 2011

Hopefully after you read this posting, you will find yourself checking out the Sleepy Dan link below. I was asked by the Hide Your Arms team to create a column from the perspective of an up-and-coming indie clothing brand. My expectation of this column is to share the behind the scenes of a designer creating seasonal lines of clothing and apparel. Working in the Dallas area as a graphic and apparel designer, I’ve gained great experience as a branding designer since graduating from Ringling College of Art & Design – Yes, I went to clown school… But no, Sleepy Dan is not clowning around!


Recently the Sleepy Dan signature line was released and already finding many fans that share common bonds with a lack of sleep. Being close to the beginning, I want to share the production journey from the start and help anyone looking for some guidance on their search for a successful project. Success of your project can be broken down into two parts. Making a product that is popular and able to sell for profit, then having fun with the project so you can consistently repeat the process while adding your creativity. I don’t believe success is measured in financial wealth, rather happiness of life while pursuing what you love. So stay sleepy, there is no time to rest because if “You Snooze, You Lose!”


Starting out means you have minimal money to invest in the project and tons of time to perfect the first line. Around two years ago I decided to learn how to screen print from home so I could cut my overhead. I purchased some screen printing supplies and hardware from craigslist.org, aselart.com and gogsg.com then researched how to complete the process. After a couple months of working out the process, I was able to successfully print 40 shirts in a night, then hand out to new fans at events like Kixpo and Sneaker Summit.


The purpose was to get some recognition and feedback for the branding direction with only the cost of the shirt, the ink, and my time invested. Taking your time to perfect everything from the trademarking to the clothing and the social media is most important. This is not a race… Get out to local clothing events and make friends with everyone in your city. Knowing the market you are looking to enter is just as important as making product for it. Make sure you understand the quality of product everyone else uses, so you are not considered out of bounds… Invest in a bunch of indie brand shirts you think are cool and represent some other brands. They will be your best allies down the road! You gotta give props to the city you love…


The finesse of screen printing is just as much an art form as the designs you are printing. Starting from making films, then burning the film image into the emulsified screen for printing, then working the squeegee over the ink filled screen, the process is not complete until a high temperature is used to bind the ink to the apparel threads. Using water based inks is less harmful at home, especially during cleanup. Sorry I can’t share pics of our spare bathroom tub, cleanup has turned it into a scene straight out of Scarface…


Becoming a recognized brand means being thorough and original with all the smallest details. Coming up with new ways to market your brand is your last step after you have a product ready to distribute. Have fun with the process from start to finish and you will be the wealthiest person you know! Creating more complex designs means you will need help from a local printer, or embroider, or seamstress. They are not difficult to find and work with, but it helps to be confident and understand the process they work with. The Sleepy Dan column will be sharing more of the apparel and accessories production from the line with you along the way, so stay posted! Contact me if you have any questions about your process, help is universal so don’t overlook it.

Thanks to Andrew for letting me become part of the Hide Your Arms team and one of the new featured columns!

http://www.sleepydan.com/

{ 2 comments }

Get smart with the Thesis WordPress Theme from DIYthemes.