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Turn Your Screen Printing Hobby Into An Income

Updated on April 21, 2013

How Can I Learn To Screen Print?

Learning to screen print can take a little while, the learning curve is kind of large because perfecting this craft takes quite a bit of technique and tons of practice. But the good thing is that it isn't hard, it just takes time. Don't be discouraged or afraid to try, because the work you put it can pay off a great deal for you if you stick with it. The most attractive thing about learning to screen print is that there are two different ways to make money doing it, and you can certainly do both!

Your first step in learning to print is to understand how the design process works and which designs will work and which ones won't. Generally, designs that have between 1-3 colors and have sharp clean lines are the best for this printing method. Don't go for designs that are comprised of photos or illustrations that have several colors. Each color has to be printed separately so the less the better. For starting out I suggest sticking with one color until you get more comfortable with the process.

As far as screen printing equipment goes, there are quite a few choices for you. The best one to start out with would be one that either attaches to a table or is a stand alone unit, there are a few complete start up kits that you can find out there(there will be one featured below). These set-ups are a little more costly but they will last much longer and will be way more efficient for what we're going to talk about here so if you can afford it I would go for it.

The next part is a lot of trial and error, finding out what works for you and getting your own rhythm going. Start out by following the directions that come with your set up kit or pick up a few screen printing books to help you along. Once you know how things should work then you can start to do things in your own way and eventually you'll develop a work flow that works really well for you.

This website is really helpful with getting started as well so it's worth taking a look.

What Can I Screen Print On?

The short answer to this question is: Almost anything! But for practicing or beginners, paper is always the best option. It's cheap, has two sides and can be recycled. I learned to screen print by making posters and flyers and once I felt comfortable I started doing clothing like t-shirts and hoodies and from there I got more creative and found tons of things I could print on. The possibilities are endless, and as long as you research what kind of ink will work on the surface you plan to print on then you'll do just fine. Just remember, start with paper first and upgrade later. Clothing and other products can get expensive if you make a mistake and can't go back.

Looking for the right paper to print on? Check your local art store, they should have a few different brands of printmaking paper in stock and any of them will do. Once you get good, try upgrading to French Paper Co. paper, it's super high quality and will take your prints to the next level! Definitely don't use regular printer paper or construction paper for this, the ink will bleed right through it.

Poll Time!

What Do You Want To Screen Print On First?

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How Can I Make Money Screen Printing?

As I mentioned above, there are two different ways that you can make some nice money with screen printing. Again I stress that you shouldn't attempt this until you're sure that you have at least the basic skills down pat. Assuming you have that done already, lets move on!

  1. Sell your printed products: This is the easier option for turning your hobby into an income. Think of some good original ideas and get to work creating them! This can be anything, t-shirts, posters, whatever. You can sell your products on sites like Etsy or Ebay and once you start bringing in a decent amount of cash, upgrade to your very own website so you can make even more and avoid the small feels that those websites collect from you. Make sure you price your products high enough to cover your costs! The last thing you want is to lose money because you aren't charging enough. It's so important that you value your work and sell it at the price that it's honestly worth.
  2. Sell your printing services: Once you learn to print, you'll have a skill that many other people don't have. If you have friends that have bands or businesses they might be looking for someone to print shirts or other products for them. They can be your first clients! From there, you have work to show off and you can use that in order to gain new clients. Just remember, again, that you have to price according to your costs or you'll lose money in the end, and no one want's that! Check out some other screen printing companies and check out what they charge, this can give you a better idea of what you should be charging too.

There's a lot of info here so I think that's enough for today, this is plenty to get you started! I hope that you've learned something and that this will help you get started making money with screen printing. If you have any questions feel free to ask in the comments! Thanks for reading =)


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    • theweaksend profile image

      theweaksend 4 years ago

      I agree! Thanks for the comment =)

    • Keri Machin profile image

      Keri Machin 4 years ago from Miami Florida

      great hub. screen printing is awesome!

    • theweaksend profile image

      theweaksend 4 years ago

      You are very welcome! I used to run my own t-shirt line as well which is where the inspiration for this hub came from. It's a super fun adventure but be sure to plan way ahead but it can also get pretty stressful. Good luck! =)

    • The Unlearner profile image

      Jo 4 years ago from Isle of Wight UK

      At art college I loved screen printing, but haven't done it in years. I was talking about the prospect of setting up a t-shirt design company a few weeks ago with my hubby, so this hub is AMAZINGLY timely. Thank you for all the great information included in your hub.

    • theweaksend profile image

      theweaksend 4 years ago

      Thank you! It is definitely a fun hobby, I also love doing block printing. Both are kind of just, therapeutic, you can just turn your brain off for a few hours and make a huge mess haha Glad you enjoyed the article, thanks for the thumbs up! =D

    • dragonflyfla profile image

      dragonflyfla 4 years ago from South Florida

      Interesting article. Make me want to pull out the old screen printing stuff. Voted you up and useful. :-)