PHOTO BY BOGA RÍN ON UNSPLASH
Dan Strickland has had his fair share of musical clients. Over the last few years, the co-founder of Garment Gear has worked with approximately 25 bands and artists to help them print T-shirts for their tours. We caught up with him to hear all about what it’s like, the challenges of tour deadlines, and what advice he would give to people wanting to try their hand at printing for tours.
You’ve printed for a whole bunch of different industries from sports to television. Was there any reason behind choosing to work with musicians?
Well, when you have contacts who are friends of contacts, it’s just kind of a great network that builds out. Oftentimes, we want to be as accommodating as we can, and working for musicians just kind of happened!
What are some of the biggest challenges you face printing for tours?
A lot of times the bands are very creative people and they’re trying to create, you know, these awesome, unique t-shirts for their tour merchandise. But often what they’ve designed is just not able to be printed quickly and at such low quantities. Sometimes you have to reject the artwork and send it back to them — all while their tour is about to start — and it’s all a bit of a hustle.
Time, in general, is the biggest element because if you can’t make this for-sure ship date and get it to the band’s next venue, you’re going to miss that venue and they will be in a different city. So you have to be really, really careful about how you’re shipping the merchandise back out for the bands and to not miss any deadlines.
Have you ever experienced any hiccups once the tour season has already begun?
That's a good question... sometimes a design isn’t selling as well as the band had hoped. They would get feedback from people like: “Oh, this design is just not working on black. Let's switch the color to like, an olive green.” Sometimes you just don't know [what to expect] because you get on tour and then fans keep demanding the same look or a new hot color. So we've definitely had to make adjustments.
Any specific styles you’d see cropping up again and again?
Because they have so many expenses on the road, oftentimes bands are just looking for a basic tee, such as the G2000. So I’d always go into musician orders with a basic T-shirt and then maybe a more expensive fashion cut like the Anvil 980 for example.
What do you enjoy most about working with musicians?
Oh, that they're creative types! And it's not just their logo reproduction on their t-shirt, you know? They want to do more with it and create those 6 to 10 really cool designs so they can appeal to as many fans as possible. So working with them and getting to be creative and going back-and-forth. Also, shipping to some of these venues you've always heard about like Madison Square Garden and Radio City Music Hall. You can say “yeah that's our stuff going there!" so that's rewarding.
And what advice would you give someone looking to team up with a musician one day?
Definitely, do your homework upfront. Find out what band they are, or if they're always going to be using a black shirt for example. Make the graphics easy to set up for re-orders when you only have say, two days to produce several hundred to a thousand pieces to get shipped out to their next venue before they arrive.