I've written a few posts about the shirts I'd put together with the intention of taking to the San Diego Comic-Con. Now that I've gotten all four designs finished and printed, I suppose it's time to talk about the experience I had with Commonwealth Press, a small shop on the South Side of Pittsburgh.
Before working on the four shirt designs for the show, I didn't (and still don't) have a lot of experience dealing with printers. I wanted to work with a local printer, so I went around to a few different stores before settling on Commonwealth. The other shops didn't seem to have the equipment or the know-how; if I wanted to get a little league shirt printed, the other stores would have been fine, but it didn't seem like many had a solid grasp on screen printing. A friend of mine had shirts printed at Commonwealth in the past, and she recommended them, and that was pretty much it for the decision making process.
The shop itself goes for a trendy, "indy" feel, and I think it succeeds in that. If you know anything about the South Side of Pittsburgh, you know that it definitely caters to a younger demographic, and also alcoholics.
Most of the shirts that Commonwealth Press prints seem to be sports related, and I suppose that serves them well. I saw lots of prints related to the Steelers and Penguins, but since it is baseball season and the Pirates are, inexplicably, good, there were a whole lot of just-this-side-of-legal shirts with a Pirates theme, including the mega-popular "Zoltan" shirt, which is, also inexplicably, a reference to the movie "Dude, Where's My Car?".
They also have a pretty cool Dark Knight Rises shirt that I'm sure will pick up steam in the next few weeks.
I found that the people working at Commonwealth Press were skilled and knowledgable, which is, of course, what you look for when you're trying to get shirts printed. And the end product results, as I'll show below, were very well done, so overall I'm pleased with the job that was done. There were, though, a few frustrating instances that made me realize that Commonwealth Press is still in its infancy as a company.
On one occasion, I drove to the store on East Carson Street only to find it closed, even though it was within the hours of operation posted on CWP's website. This was extremely annoying, because I drove into Pittsburgh, sat in mind-numbing traffic (there was a Pirates game that day, and people now apparently attend those again), and had to turn around a drive right back with blank shirts still in my car. On another, I called ahead to make sure I could pick up a completed order, and was assured that they would be at the store. When I got there, though, the shirts were nowhere to be found. I ended up having to drive with an employee (who was very nice and helpful, by the way) to a warehouse to search for the mystery box, which we eventually found.
Overall, I'd say that this was a positive experience despite the few hiccups that occurred. As I said, the most crucial part of all this was the end results, and I couldn't be happier with them. This has a lot to do, naturally, with the blank shirts I bought from Next Level Apparel, which are very well made (soft, too!), as well as the initial artwork that was done by such talents as Duane Redhead and Leonardo Pietro. Beyond that, though, the quality of work done on the actual printing was top notch, with the colors coming through exactly how I had hoped. See for yourself!
My initial order was for three designs, but I was able to sneak in the last minute addition of Adrian "Bago" Gonzalez's Yeti artwork to round the group out with four great designs.
And people love 'em! Just look at this happy customer:
The question comes down to this: would I use Commonwealth Press again for future printing, and would I recommend them to friends looking to print shirts of their own? The answer to both is "yes", with a little note of caution attached. It seemed pretty obvious to me that the guys there still had some things to figure out - maybe not from the perspective of skill or talent, but in regards to running a standard "9 to 5" business.
You can visit Commonwealth Press online here: http://www.cwpress.com/
Or, if you're ever in Pittsburgh (and why shouldn't you be?), you can check out the store at 1931 East Carson Street.
Look for these shirts at Comic-Con, which starts in...holy crap, like two days! Woo!