My name is David Robison. I started doing t-shirt art in High School (9th grade). A good friend, Mark Taylor, invited me along on a summer vacation to Florida back in 1978. While enjoying my first trip to the ocean, I was exposed to airbrushed t-shirts. Having a love for art and a desire to somehow make money at it, I returned home and talked my father into letting me borrow an airbrush from the mapping department of the Forest Service where he worked. I discovered that it was fun, and I was very good at it. My parents encouraged my art and they were amazingly supportive. They helped me buy my own airbrush and build a small booth that I set up in Stone Mountain airbrushing t-shirts for tourists and that’s where my apparel career began.After a couple of summers airbrushing and honing my skills, I went to work in a retail t-shirt shop where the hours were more structured, and I could learn general business skills too. The shop was in a retail mall and had an appealing front area with my airbrush displays and transfers. Customers could choose which design they wanted, and the rest is history, my history. The retail store also had a small screen-printing setup in the back. Working in that environment taught me skills that shaped the rest of my life.I learned how to set up displays and arrange color schemes to appeal to a larger audience, and between airbrushing t-shirts for customers (while they wait) I learned how to do art for screen printing.I found that doing art for screen printing was fun and fulfilling, I got to enjoy the results of my labor which made me want to learn even more. I learned very quickly. I was able to test ideas, try different techniques and experiment with my art. The big appeal to me was being able to print multiple copies of art I had created, unlike airbrushing I could make as many copies as I desired. I became very good at doing this type of art and began to market my skills to other screen printers. Little did I know; I was laying the groundwork for my future. Eventually, I took a partner and started a freelance art company, catering to the screen printers around Atlanta, by providing art and film as well as free delivery and reasonable pricing. While I wasn’t actually pulling the squeegee, I was getting paid to create art and perfect a lot of the techniques I had discovered. I learned a lot while freelancing that way, seeing what sold, what didn’t, learning which printers were skilled and which ones struggled. I learned a lot about what works and what does not.Eventually, with the knowledge I learned, I set out on my own and wished my partner well, as he was heading in a new direction himself. I realized that I wanted to make a living doing what I enjoy. I realized that art is my PURPOSE!! It gives me joy and a sense of accomplishment to help others see their art and ideas come to life, on a T-shirt no less. This was when computers were introduced, which meant I needed to make this change. Sometimes our techniques were time consuming and anyone with a computer could out work us with little or no effort even if that work was not quite as creative, so that helped in my decision for change. I bought my first Mac, felt like I was progressing and ready to hit the ground running. I was going to be a broker.As a Broker, I found I could create my art in the first couple hours of my day and e-mail it to my clients for approval, generate the seps and film right then, complete with my color comps and print instructions. I could then order the blank goods for each job or when goods arrived that were coming from my clients or my distributor, I’d pair them with the art and deliver them to the chosen printer for that job and drop it off.I was making a comfortable living and my vendors (screen print shops), were getting a steady supply of work, they were happy with the turnaround time and the quality of the work, so life was good. Right?I soon realized that not everyone is in business for the same reasons. This is why I have what is called “The GOLDEN rules” listed at the bottom. You HAVE to be able to trust your printer if you’re a broker.With the help of my family. I am proud to be the owner/operator of my own company, Atlanta Screen Prints.This company that I have built is focused on being customer and broker friendly. Yes, we do work for anyone but if you’re a “Broker” and you have experienced any of the same issues I have in Atlanta, you owe it to yourself to consider using us to produce your work.I have learned over the years there are a few golden rules that all screen printers who do contract printing should abide by. (We certainly do.)
- Do NOT call on your client’s customers, ever.
- Remove the labels on all boxes so only your client’s info is visible.
- Always confirm that art, spelling, due dates, garment counts, colors and quantities are approved before production begins.
- Establish pricing up front.
- Establish a policy for handling errors, because at the end of the day we are all human.
For most of my career, my team and I have been screen printing apparel for many other screen printers, brokers, and customers who find us through word of mouth or online. We rarely have any issues with our work or customers because we try treat them the way we would want to be treated.
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