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From Panhead Harleys to Process Color: The Story Behind Anderson Studio

(January 2008) posted on Tue Jan 22, 2008

What happened when a passion for art, music, and motorcycles collided with an interest in screen printing? Anderson Studio was born. Learn about the shop's history and how it became known around the world for its garment work.


By Ben P. Rosenfield

click an image below to view slideshow

“They saw the artwork, thought the artwork was good, and said if I had an automatic press, they could do something about getting me the Kenny Rogers tour,” he says. “I went back to the banker and got my first automatic. That’s when I printed the tour shirts for Kenny using process colors, and it was my first experience with that.”

That process-color print (Figure 4), the only four-color job Anderson had attempted, earned him SGIA’s Golden Squeegee award. It was also at that time that the Kenny Rogers team told Anderson to call a printer on the West coast— someone who could really help bring Anderson Studio up to speed and improve the shop’s process-color work. Mark Coudray answered the phone and, over time, introduced Anderson to the technical nuances of garment screen printing.

“I asked Mark for suggestions about inks and other things, and from that point on, Mark became my mentor for screen printing, along with many other guys in the industry at that time who were well above my field of expertise,” Anderson recalls. “But Mark was definitely one of the key figures in the success of the technical side of Anderson Studio as far as printing. There weren’t many printing four-color process at that level in the 1980s. To this day we still are fast friends.”

Early success in four-color work encouraged Anderson to focus his company’s efforts on improvement by breaking the process down, understanding its finer points, and controlling all of the parameters and variables. Anderson Studio had grown to a six-person operation during the mid 1980s and made contract work its specialty.

Anderson found a niche opportunity in the late 1980s that would give his team the chance to experiment with a bunch of different prepress and printing techniques. A summer festival in Nashville introduced Anderson to the musical and artistic talent it showcased, and his shop soon tried its hand at reproducing oil paintings, watercolors, and pastels on T-shirts—sort of like wearable serigraphy. The artists would then sell the printed apparel at the festival.


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