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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

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Pulling off the technique meant using shading sheets that were blended and faded. The shop used sheets that were designed with 100-5% gradations and in a resolution range of 36-85 lines/in. Anderson remembers doing everything possible to make the printed pieces look like the originals, even if he had to get the 20 or 30 colors he counted in a design onto a shirt using that six-color press of his. He also remembers the price he paid to do so, including what he describes as horrendous job-setup times, remaking entire screens just to fix small problems, working all those colors without pin registration or retensionable frames, and more. The purchase of a 10-color automatic gave Anderson Studio the ability to manage the multicolor specialty prints, and the addition of a flash-curing unit to the system allowed the shop to extend its work to dark garments.

 

Diversification

The late 1980s saw Anderson Studio develop its own lines of printed garments for mainstream and niche markets in giftwear, zoos, museums, science centers, and tourism. Anderson cultivated the business by hiring sales and marketing help. He recalls coming to the shop each morning to find his fax machine loaded with orders.

“It was going really well. I was in hog heaven there. I wanted to diversify, because I was so tired of going through winters where we didn’t have anything and just depending on our walk-in customers and word-of-mouth customers,” he explains. I really wanted ways to keep the shop busy.”

Part of Anderson’s strategy was to build up his art department. The artists he originally hired were put to work on the presses because Anderson didn’t have any creative positions available. But the in-house line of apparel opened some slots for them, and he ended up with five artists at one time, as he puts it, pumping out artwork. Their press experience gave the artists an understanding of the printing process, which paid off in the art department in the form of press-ready designs that were tailored for screen printing. Color order, registration issues, and other factors were considered in each creation.

Each design started with pencil drawings that were ultimately shot in grayscale. Each layer of color was initially a pencil sketch. Anderson says he was unsure about how to separate those colors on the camera, so he and his team resorted to completing the task by hand.


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