Friday, September 3, 2010

SF Zine Fest this weekend!

Hey all, we just wanted to remind everyone that we'll be at the SF Zine Fest this weekend from 11-6 (both Saturday and Sunday) at the SF Country Fair Building in Golden Gate park.

There are a ton of really awesome creators signed up, and after looking through some of their websites and what not, we're really looking forward to checking it out! Additionally, Monkey is currently prepping for the two workshops he's teaching, and Seal is proud to announce that we will be selling our new postcards as well as our "You're Not Alone Anymore" narwhal x unicorn t-shirts! We just shipped out all the pre-order shirts today, and Monkey had quite the trip to the post office! Thanks to everyone who pre-ordered! If you missed the pre-order, don't fret, as the shirt is now up in our store!

As incentive to come to the Fest where we are unveiling our postcards, which are all collaborations between both of us, here's a photo of them! You've only seen cropped previews before, but here's the real deal.

These postcards are especially cool (at least in our mind) as they're the first series of collaborations that we've worked on. Monkey + Seal usually work on their own pieces, but we've decided to try to start working together more and this is the outcome! They will be priced affordably, and you can pick up all four of the series at a discounted rate! Stop by the table, check them out, and let us know what you think!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Overcoming Difficulty - Silkscreening T-shirts

I totally needed a beer to handle this job...

Hi everyone! Monkey is here for our 200th post(!!!) and will be talking about the process of silkscreening the new "You're Not Alone Anymore" shirts aka the "Naricorn" (narwhal + unicorn=naricorn) shirt for short.

Hey all, so I won't be going into too many of the technical details of silkscreen printing here,because if you are interested, I'll be running a FREE demo/workshop on screenprinting at the SF Zine Fest, starting at 3:30 this Saturday, Sept. 4th. More details can be found here. So if you want to talk shop, I'll be there (also at the Monkey + Seal table the entire fest!).

Anyway, so on to the post. Overcoming difficulty. This past week, I have been a bit crazed, as trying to print 30-ish t-shirts with fairly tight registration with water-based textile inks when a)you don't have the right emulsion, b)you're used to printing with either water-based inks for PAPER, c)if you do print on shirts, you've only used plastisol inks, and d)you're out of screen opener. If this makes any sense to you great, if not, just know there were a lot of hurdles to making this shirt.

a)wax paper is not as good as freezer paper, b)my float coat was waaaay to thin for what I was doing

Besides only having one type of emulsion that doesn't hold up well to water-based textile inks (ie the stencil gets eaten away by the inks), the rest of the issues weren't so big. The main issue was that the emulsion (which our shop usually uses fine with plastisol inks). For those that have never screenprinted before, basically the emulsion is what is used to create a stencil of sort on the screen that prevents all the ink from seeping through your screen. Instead of a big huge flat of ink, you only get the parts that you want (the design) on the shirt. If you have holes in your emulsion, you'll get ink that you don't want onto whatever you're printing on. Thus, having ink that eats through your emulsion is a huge issue.

I had never used this current emulsion with the water-based textile inks, so I didn't know this might be a problem until I actually started printing. So with a screen with emulsion slowly degrading, I started to lose hope. I was frustrated at myself for not even considering the possibility, for not planning earlier (I was supposed to ship out the shirts the same day), and for not having all the supplies I needed to make the process easier.
The screen for printing the white layer

Thankfully, after a long day of experimentation and failure and being a bit of a rude jerk to Eve, I realized that being all upset was not going to solve anything. I apologized to Eve when I got home that night and started problem-solving. I started looking up emulsion comparisons and manufacturer's data sheets. I then started cross-referencing good emulsions with any local stores that might carry them. I then took care of the customer service issues, as many of these shirts were pre-ordered and I wanted to let our customers know what went wrong, and offered them a refund if they wanted to cancel. Finally, I took down the phone numbers of all the local stores that could possibly carry professional-level screenprinting supplies (speedball doesn't cut it! Sorry!) and then went to bed.

The next morning was spent on the phone trying to figure out where I could get some emulsion, and while I waited for a few return phone calls, I started systematically going through the process I had used to burn the screens, and realized that there were a few steps that I could have taken to potentially extended the life of the stencil. I then went to the studio, experimented again, and managed to find a way to use the emulsion I had (since I couldn't get the stuff I needed in a reasonable amount of time and at a decent price) and the shirts were printed!

The white layer printed!

White + blue layers = finished shirt! Now I just have to heat-set it.

The reason I wanted to share this story with you was that there were a lot of points where I wanted to just give up and refund everyone their money back. I wanted to curse the screenprinting gods and just kick a hole in my screens and knock buckets of ink over. I even contemplated outsourcing the printing to some other print shop. But I didn't. I stayed (relatively) calm, and by assessing and reassessing the situation, thinking outside the box, and going back to the basics, I was able to get the shirts printed!

The final shirt. Whew!

Panicking and freaking out is never going to make any situation any better. Stay rational, think creatively, and sometimes the most simple answer might be the one you're looking for. Anyone else with any good tips on how to handle adversary? Please share in the comments!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Learn Screenprinting! Learn Bookbinding!

Hi everyone! We just wanted to take the time to remind you all to stop by the San Francisco Zine Fest this weekend (September 4+5) from 11am-6pm at the SF County Fair Building (in Golden Gate Park at 9th + Irving).

The event is totally free, and Monkey + Seal will be there vending. We'll have our ties, prints, and our new postcard line for sale, as well as some new assorted paper products (if we can finish them in time, eep!).

Additionally, there are going to be a ton of great workshops, panels, and discussions going on, and Monkey will be teaching two of them!

Stop by at 3:30 on Saturday to get an insider's look to screenprinting! We'll have a screen or two for you to print from, so make sure that you bring some paper, or some clothing to print on! We'll provide the inks, screens, squeegees, etc., so just bring what you want to print on! PS - Give us some suggestions as to what exactly you'd like to print, and if you're early enough, you just might see it at the workshop!

If you want to get your bindery skills on (or learn some), swing by at 12:30 on Sunday as Monkey will also be an instructor for the bookbinding class. We'll go over some single-sheet books, a pamphlet stitch, and if time allows, for some simple Japanese stab-binding! Awesome! We'll have all the supplies you need, just bring yourself and your curiosity!

Besides the awesomeness of the Zine Fest itself, there are lots of other fun events being put on by the Fest! On Friday, there will be a reading at the Cartoon Art Museum from 7-9pm with super great comic creators. It's a line-up not to be missed, and Monkey will be there for sure!
Also check out our Afterparty and Mixer over at Mission: Comics & Art (3520 20th Street, San Francisco) on Saturday from 7-10pm! Meet and mingle with some of the vendors at the Fest and have some drinks and check out the art on the walls! Sweet!

If you still can't get enough of the Fest, come to our After-After party at the Knock Out (3223 Mission Street). It's a $5 cover for this 90's Alternative dance party, but if get in FREE with zines to trade, a flannel get-up, or if you rock a Baby-Doll dress! It'll be from 9pm-2am, so come and get your 90's indie, underground, and riot-grrl jams, and rock on!

Whew! It's going to be a jam-packed week for Monkey + Seal and we hope to see you at the Zine Fest!