Meet the Maker: I Dress Myself

Describe your printmaking process.

We have worked exclusively with eco-friendly water-based inks since the very early days in 2006 and screen print and digitally print most garments.  We still print some garments by hand but also have an automatic screen printing carousel now, which means we can offer eco-friendly screen printing for large scale print runs.  We offer digital printing (Direct-to-Garment) for small print runs, one-offs and full-colour printing.  The inks are still ecologically sound and it’s still great quality – it costs more per print but there’s hardly any set-up time so ideal for smaller orders.

How and where did you learn to print?

We’ve mainly learnt on-the-job by trial and error, over the years.  Neither Pete nor I (co-founders) had any printing experience outside of college before we started.  Water-based inks were particularly unforgiving but we persevered and learnt so much that we now offer technical advice to other printers looking to make the switch.

Why printmaking?

We get great satisfaction from taking an initial design all the way through to the completed article.  We spend time making a PDF proof to ensure that artwork size and positioning is correct and match all colours carefully.  We love getting emails from clients who are so excited to receive their first print run of a new design and to see their idea realised.

Where do you work?

We have a large studio in an industrial unit in Frome, North Somerset.  We have two print carousels (one auto and one manual), two DTG machines, a paper printing table and a lock-stitch machine for labelling.  There’s some smaller rooms off the main room (office, DTG room, kitchen, sewing room etc) and a big mezzanine for storage and paper printing.  We have a glass skylight and a giant roller door, which is so good to open up the front of the print shop on a sunny day.

Describe a typical day in your studio.

There are seven of us here now, working various hours and days, so life is very different to how we started out.  There’s always a coffee and production meeting to start the day and then we all get on with our various roles.  It’s nice to have our own responsibilities but great to work as part of a team.  We mostly have lunch together and finish at 5pm.  We try to organise the timetable so that we don’t have to work late as it’s so important to have the evenings to recharge.

How long have you been printmaking? 

Since we started in 2005, printing from our house in Nottingham.  We could only fit two arms on the carousel because the bedroom it was in was so small, we exposed screens in the cellar and washed them out in the shower.  It was an exciting time but a tricky way to try and work.  It was only a few months before we got our first studio in Nottingham.

What inspires you?

We really appreciate seeing something that stands out.  We’ve printed so many great T-shirts, over the years but still get amazed by a certain colour combo that we haven’t seen before or a particular design

What is your favourite printmaking product?

We especially love the Permaset inks. They’re great quality, the colour and durability are amazing and they contain no harmful solvents so are really nice to use. We are also trialling a new organic water-based ink from another company that stays wet a little longer and has a really great, solid white.

What have you made that you are most proud of?

Over the last year we’ve been working lots with the Tate, which we’ve been enjoying.  We printed some T-shirts for a US artist called Jenny Holzer a few years ago and she remembered us.  When she had an exhibition at the Tate, she told them they could only do T-shirts of her work if they used us!  That was a very proud moment, when we found out.

Where can we see your work? Where do you sell?

We’ve taken a break from selling products as we found that we really enjoy producing high-quality garments but didn’t have time to spend marketing them.  However, we are planning a new range of garments, with some of our favourite artists, for Spring 2020 so watch this space!

What will we be seeing from you next? 

In 2020, we’re planning to introduce a plastic-free embroidery service and are really excited to be adding to our eco-friendly garment decoration services.

Do you have any advice for other printmakers and creatives?

If you’re printing for a client, it’s important to be thorough.  Clarify every detail and check back with your client whenever you need to.  Ensure that everything is in writing and that nothing is open to interpretation.

If you’re printing for yourself, when you have the idea, just go for it. Doing is the most important thing, you’ll learn as you go.

To get in contact with I Dress Myself:
01373 464865
insta: @idressmyselfprint
facebook: idressmyself