Universal Truths for Apparel Decorators


Ok, so this article is going to be a tad sarcastic.  Which may, or may not be a good thing considering my core audience of decorated apparel industry professionals…we don’t ever take things literally do we?  In the world of academia, a logical proposition is said to have universality if it can be considered as being true in all possible contexts without creating a contradiction.  Truth is considered to be universal if it is valid in all times and places.  For printers and embroiderers, our group is so creative and inventive what may be true for 99 people may not be for that one mad creative genius that decides to do something different or wacky just to see what might happen.  That’s you, right?

These are in no particular order.  Add yours in the comment section…

The Law of You Figure It Out.  Despite your superhuman ability to explain the Raster vs Vector Theory of Quality Artwork, your customer still sends in a 12k .jpg he downloaded from the internet as his art file.  “This is all I could get”  Now you have to make it 13” wide and print it over a hoodie zipper.   Where’s that vector conversion guy’s e-mail address…?

The Law of Ninja Ink.  There is something in your shop that makes ink magically launch from the ink bucket to either the back of your forearm, the bottom of your shirt front, or the top of your left shoe.  Like a tick that burrows into your skin when hiking out in the woods, nobody knows how it got there.  For me, it’s always green ink for some reason.

The Law of Say What?  Your biggest complainer of a customer is directly proportional to their inability to do their end of the work correctly.  Rush job that has to ship on time?  The art won’t get approved until the very last millisecond, and only if you hound them incessantly for the approval.  Complain about pricing on the invoice?  Their Purchase Order is barely filled out, and in fact, has missing line items and cloned notes from the last order that don’t pertain to the current one.  Smile!!

The Philanthropic Law of Volunteers.  Once a week at a minimum (usually Wednesday), some charitable group will call wanting a huge discount or possibly free shirts for their upcoming event.  This Saturday.  They will even let you put your shop logo on the sleeve.  We’re still lining up sponsors for the back logos.  Could you help with the artwork for the front and e-mail it out everyone on the committee for approval?  Why are you laughing?

The Race to the Bottom Law of Don’t Do It.  The other shop I use can do it faster and for less…

La Ley de la no la Palabra Correcta Para Ese.  You find yourself learning another language just so you can speak to your employees.  Thank you Google Translate.

The Red Faced Law of Do It Over.  You ask yourself at least once a year why anyone would choose PMS 185 or PMS 485 and then complain later that it looks too orange?  Why not just use PMS 186?

The Law of Slight Embarrassment.  You have a shop mannequin so you can discretely see where that logo will go on a woman’s boobs.  Yes, it needs to go a little higher.

The Law of Inventory Volume.  The customer that yells the loudest about inventory counts is always the one that is short pieces when their goods arrive.  It’s on tomorrow’s truck.

The Law That Money is Green.  At least once in your professional life you have caught yourself pulling for your sport’s teams arch rival because you might land that big order if they win.  When they do win, you produce the big order, but wear your team’s colors out of loyalty and spite.  Take that!!

The Law of Holy Crap That’s Hideous.  You have been at least slightly disappointed that the voters for the Academy Awards weren’t around when you kept a straight face when that customer pulled out the ugliest design you’ve ever seen and wants it on 300 shirts.  Props to you if you started talking obliquely about how creative your art department can be.  What is the apparel decorator maxim?  “We don’t have to wear it”.

The Law of Self Control.  Somewhere or some time on an industry forum, Facebook group, or social media, some other industry newbie posts some ridiculous comment.  Instead of pointing out how utterly stupid they are, you smirk to yourself and move on.  If you have ever posted the correct answer for them and gently nudged them in the right direction…thank you from all of us that read that comment.  Seriously.

The Law of Up All Night (Also known as the Law of Don’t Make Plans for the Weekend).  Business is good.  Sales are up.  Stuff has to ship.  Get the coffee pot going and order in a pizza!

The Universal Law of Whew!  You just finished that huge order (finally!!)  Whew!!  That joy is short lived as tomorrow brings you two more.  Note: please see the Law of Up All Night.


  • so true …. every steps and words … but how to fix this ? 🙂 hahaha

  • How about this one…they never know what they want, just what they don’t want…edit 1, edit 2, edit 3, edit 4, no go back to edit 2, oh, and it’s a RUSH!

  • You had me laughing a the first paragraph, but you forgot Murphy’s Law. The Law of Slight Embarrassment directly relates to the fishing T-shirt with the pair of bobbers strategically located….

  • I can see myself in every one!! Right on!!

    The Law of It’s Never Going to Be as Easy/Simple/Quick as you think it will be for that “Rush Job” . . . they send the wrong type file, after hours, the design is hideous, the fonts are obscure, they choose glitter ink and it won’t set, it has to be screened on the front and DTG on the back, etc., etc., etc. . . .

  • The law of set up fees. A customer recites that they never pay set up fees for reorders, but wants to do business with you because of the quality you produce. Apparently the “no set up fee printer” has not lived up to you standard and now you want me to live down to his.

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