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 Print on demand in the UK

Official UK Government statistics for 2018-19, show a decline in traditional printing. Catalogues, magazines & other printed paper products aren’t in demand. Even so, a Sept 2020 Printweek article predicts future significant growth in the UK print on demand, direct-to-garment (DTG) market. 

Sustainability advantages of on-demand production and the rapid growth in online retail are the way forward. This type of production, together with a 50-year-old innovation, known as drop shipping, is changing the way we all shop.

How dropshipping started

Mail-order businesses were widely used in the 1950s & 1960s on both sides of the Atlantic. This business model grew from the need of large companies to store large amounts of stock. Organizations who sold their items through both catalogue & shops would traditionally fill the postal orders by taking stock directly from the shelves.
To make sure there was enough stock, big warehouses were prepared to store large amounts of stock.

Companies which exclusively sold via mail-order started to list these same items in their catalogues, at a marked up price. When an order came through, the company purchased the item from the warehouse. The item would be shipped to the customer address straight from the warehouse. This is ‘dropshipping’.

With wider usage of the Internet for shopping, stores which traded like this in the past shifted their presence online. Many have come & gone but some have managed to stay the course. But the main winners are the ones which started as selling platforms. Amazon, Etsy & eBay. 

These platforms have transformed how people can sell online. No need for specialised & costly online stores. Just list your items on their platforms & they’ll drive the traffic to your items! 

You still need products to sell. You can either buy ready-made items or create print on demand pieces ( Printful ).


What is print on demand?

Bespoke or custom-made items are based completely on the specifications of the person ordering. Fabrics, measurements, etc are all determined by the customer.
Print on demand takes white-label goods & customizes with designs provided by store owners/ individuals. These items are then sold under their label/name
Whether custom-made or print on demand, articles are only made when ordered. Because of this, unlike traditional drop shipping or high street stores, no inventory or bulk buying is needed, making them greener options.

At Cool Sarky Prints, we primarily use Printful, because of their setup. Both novice & skilled business owners looking for balanced responses to modern shopping habits they can upscale, use Printful. Printful is one of the most successful print-on-demand firms, in the UK & worldwide. They offer a variety of merchandises which businesses & individuals can customize. Helpful additions like mockup generators & logo design aids are useful for entrepreneurs. 

Companies, such as Printful, Printfy or Redbubble, not only print but drop ship the finished article. This makes it an affordable option for online stores & their customers. Firms wishing to use fewer resources & energy stocking products have the flexibility to do that.
If a product doesn’t sell, production can be stopped almost immediately, without losing money or wasting stock. This is a virtue from a customers point of view. According to the Harvard Business Review, buyers often say they want to purchase from brands that adopt sustainability in production. This article also revealed that certain kinds of products with sustainability claims had twice the growth of their conventional equivalents.
The two main techniques for designing t-shirts are direct to garment (DTG) & screen printing. Unlike pre-printed stock, print on demand goods can conceivably take 2–4 days to be fulfilled. Shipping times are separate to this.

DTG vs screen printing

Screen printing needs a “screen” (a stencil for non-techies.) Layers of ink get applied to the garment surface. Different colours use different stencils, one at a time. The more layers your design has, the longer it takes & the more concentrated the image on the material. Because screen printing is time-consuming, it is principally used to print articles in large volumes. The possibility of overstocking is high, so is problematic for producers trying to be greener.

Digital printing requires your artwork is prepared by a computer and then printed straight onto the surface of your merchandise. The way it’s printed onto the fabric is similar to the way inkjet printers print on paper/card. Compared to screen printing, designs with more detail show up better using DTG. Because there’s virtually no setup time, it makes it easier to set up small print runs. This has led to the ability for customers to design & print their designs very quickly & cheaply.

Which is eco-friendlier?

Traditional screen printing use inks which contain PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride). PVC is is a dense plastic substance produced from vinyl chlorine. DTG printing uses water-based inks.
Water-based inks are very useful because of their versatility and ability to print a wide variety of items. They are great on items like stickers & stationery. T-Shirts & sweatshirts. A benefit of water-based inks is that designs using them can be ironed, while plastisol prints cannot because the iron melts the ink.


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Print File Recommendations

Design with background still in place.

Our t-shirts designs use a print file in the direct-to-garment (DTG) technique. The only two formats that used for printing are PNG & JPEG image formats. Because of this, you should only add colours you want to show in the final design. One way to achieve this is to create a vector image & export as a PNG/JPEG file.
If you have artwork that’s inside a coloured box you don’t want to have printed on your t-shirts, or
you need to cut out an object from one picture to set it into another you will need to remove the background.

You must have an image with at least a dpi(dot per inch) of 250-300 & to make sure it prints sharply, 14-inch x 14- inch/35.56 cm x 35.56 cm is the file size we recommend. 

When using transparency in your print file, these effects could happen so you should bear this in mind when creating your design:-

  • White garments = no white under base, transparencies will print out fine
  • Non-white, light-coloured garments = white under base will be difficult to notice but might shine through semi-transparent areas 
  • Dark-coloured garments = white under base might be visible as small white speckles in semi-transparent areas 

It might be better to use the halftone effect instead.

Design without background.
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The reusable face mask: a few things to know

Whatever your current situation the face mask debate must be exhausting you. Is using a face mask necessary? Should you use disposable or reusable masks? Here’s the lowdown. Wearing a cloth face-covering helps shield others you meet. It helps to keep COVID-19 in check when you’re in an enclosed space where it’s hard to keep apart (inside shops or on public transport).

The only time you should wear a surgical mask outside of a hospital is if you have an underlying health problem.*
Everyone else should be ok wearing a fabric mask. The best choice of fabric mask should have three layers, be able to withstand a hot wash.

Do not share your mask

Ask yourself. Would you share the unwashed undies of your incontinent, bedbound favourite uncle? If not, why would you share your mask?

Make sure it's clean

Washable face masks aren’t the same as underwear. Don’t think turning them inside out is acceptable. Come to think of it, neither is wearing your knickers 2 days on the spin. Might get run over by a bus. Then what will your mother say?

Cover your nose & mouth.

 Doctors have yet to confirm Covid-19 can be spread through excretions from the chin so wearing it there makes no sense

Wash hands before using.

 If you’re a child this advice isn’t about keeping the Covid-19 virus a bay. It’s just good sense. Do it thoroughly & often. If you’re an adult, do you need to be told?


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Customise your own item

Our trade is funny, stylish t-shirts to match your personality & do as little harm to the planet as is possible. We do this by only printing our pieces once you order them & using eco-friendlier items wherever possible.

Now we’re allowing you the option of adding your very own slogan or image. You can easily customise and create your t-shirt in a matter of minutes.

Here’s a short guide on how to create your design. Make sure you have your design/slogan before you start

The image on the left is used to show the change.

Ready to try it for yourself? Press  one of the buttons below to get your items today.

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Best Richard Pryor quotes

Richard Pryor is undoubtedly one of the best stand up comics to have ever lived. He’s been an influence on many great comedians.

The late great Bill Hicks cites him as one of his influences. For  your amusement, here are some for the best quotes ever uttered by the great man himself. Enjoy!

It’s been a struggle for me because I had a chance to be white and refused.

If I thought about it, I could be bitter, but I don’t feel like being bitter. Being bitter makes you immobile, and there’s too much that I still want to do.

Richard Pryor

I won’t talk about what it was like in prison, except to say I’m glad I’m out and that I plan never to go back and to pay my taxes every day.

There was a time in my life when I thought I had everything – millions of dollars, mansions, cars, nice clothes, beautiful women, and every other materialistic thing you can imagine. Now I struggle for peace.

When that fire hit your ass, it will sober your ass up quick! I saw something, I went, Well, that’s a pretty blue. You know what? That looks like… FIRE! Fire is inspirational. They should use it in the Olympics, because I ran the 100 in 4.3.

Richard Pryor

 Everyone carries around his own monsters.



Richard Pryor

I’m for human lib, the liberation of all people, not just black people or female people or gay people.



Richard Pryor

Rosa Parks showed us all that one little person can make a whole bunch of noise without so much as a whisper. She showed the world that the color of your skin shouldn’t determine what part of the bus you sit in… as you ride through life.


Richard Pryor

You can have a film and have 200 white people working on it, and nobody finds anything wrong with that. But if you insist on having a black crew, all of a sudden there`s something wrong.

I live in racist America and I’m uneducated, yet a lot of people love me and like what I do, and I can make a living from it. You can’t do much better than that.

Richard Pryor

Quotes taken from

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Bill Hicks: Modern day prophet?

Almost 30 years ago Bill Hicks, one of the greatest stand-up comedians to come out of Texas, died. As a twenty-year-old at that time, his comedy was relevant to my life. Bill Hicks was controversial even then. As popular as he was, he wasn’t the most popular. He managed to sell out the Dominion Theatre, London. No mean feat. However, the comedians Baddiel & Newman sold-out Wembley Arena around the same time.

If you weren’t there, here’s a few things happening late ’80s-early ’90s in Britain;

  1. Hedonism was still a big thing.
  2. The drugs did work. ‘E’s really were good. (Lots of waiting around but worth the wait.)
  3. While we were waiting for delivery, we were hanging out in pubs. Drinking mostly bottled beers. Dealers are quite obviously not Gideons. 
  4. 9/11 hadn’t happened. That made critiquing US foreign policy trickier for comedians. 
  5. Trainspotting was fun to watch because it wasn’t real life drug-taking for most people I knew. This life was how we did our drugs.
  6. The focus of feminism was doing what you want & paying for it. (Which we did. A lot.)We really were full of life.
  7. We all had good ‘the good albums’.
  8. Anyone questioning the reasoning behind the first Gulf War was the Messiah.

Early years

On December 16th 1961, a star was born in Valdosta, Georgia. From a young age, he performed in front of his classmates at school. His English teacher was forced to give him five minutes performance time in front of the class, hoping he would settle. When it started to get out of hand, she asked his mother to have a word with Bill. Mary Hicks, the smart woman that she was, decided it was the teachers’ mess to sort out.
Bill was the youngest of three kids in a devoutly Southern Baptist family. As teenagers, Hicks and sidekick Dwight Slade shared an early passion for stand-up comedy. At the age of 15, Hicks & Slade snuck out of their rooms at night to perform onstage at a new comedy club, The Comedy Workshop.

After graduating high school, Hicks decided that, instead of attending college, he’d head off to Los Angeles to pursue a comedy career. He went with Sam Kinison being his chaperone. He even got a part in a sitcom (which didn’t do very well). After about 2 years, he went back to Texas. It was then he started to tour relentlessly.


 Along with the alcohol & cigarettes, Bill explored meditation, used sensory deprivation tanks & opened his ‘third eye’ with ‘magic’ mushrooms and other recreational drugs. Unfortunately, Bill started abusing alcohol & drugs. Thankfully in 1988,(while in New York ) he managed to quit using everything. (Except the fags ) 

TV appearances

With the help of Jay Leno, He made his first television appearance on Late Night with David Letterman in 1984. He went on to appear 12 times in total, with the final time being cut. It was shown in its entirety in 2009. In ‘American’, it’s inferred Bill relocated to New York City, primarily to get sober but it’s clear he also honed his craft.

Drugs & sobriety

If you want to understand a society, take a good look at the drugs it uses. And what can this tell you about American culture? Well, look at the drugs we use. Except for pharmaceutical poison, there are essentially only two drugs that Western civilization tolerates: Caffeine from Monday to Friday to energize you enough to make you a productive member of society, and alcohol from Friday to Monday to keep you too stupid to figure out the prison that you are living in.
― Bill Hicks

During this time, Bill began exploring altered states of consciousness—meditating, using sensory deprivation tanks, experimenting with ‘heroic amounts’ of mushrooms & other substances. Bill also abused alcohol & continued to smoke too much. Luckily, he came to the understanding something had to change. Fortunately, he was strong enough to alter his life.
In ‘American’, it’s inferred Bill relocated to New York City, primarily to get sober; He had to get away from the people on the Texan comedy circuit. That sounds like he’d got into the habit of living that way, rather than needing to live that way.

Then he was gone...

In June 1993 he was diagnosed with liver cancer that had spread from his pancreas. He continued to work & have chemotherapy treatment. Only close friends & family were told about what was happening. August of the same year, he moved back in with his parents. In October, he recorded the last Letterman (see above)

It's just a ride...

Both critics & fans (I count myself in the latter group) can agree, some of the material seems dated. The self-proclaimed ‘pussyholic’ has a hard time talking about women nonsexually. The righteous anger (only really great comedians possess that quality) sometimes comes across as self-indulgent ranting. But before you say that his comedy wouldn’t be funny today, consider this:


Many comedians who quite clearly borrowed, (Ricky Gervais) or stolen (yeah you, Mr Leary) Hicks’ style, are now part of mainstream comedy. The ‘smugness’ alluded to in  Vice is completely age-appropriate. Your teenage years & the twenties are the years we work out who we are. If you don’t go out of your way to shock people at that age, you’ve wasted your life.

Anyone can criticise anything. The only useful criticism though is the one which makes you think about the point being made. To make that happen, you have to know your subject. Take a moment to turn it over in your mind. Bill did that and asked us to do the same.


As I mentioned above, he reflected what a huge number of his fans were actually doing. We were all living large, with the booze & the drugs. Here’s the thing. Existing that way isn’t cheap. You pay with your soul. Your only choices are to evolve or die. If you choose to change, you keep your fingers crossed that you didn’t leave it too late. Unfortunate for Bill Hicks, he didn’t get lucky.

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The birth of the slogan tee

“Slogans work on so many different levels; they’re almost subliminal. They’re also a way of people aligning themselves to a cause. They’re tribal. Wearing one is like branding yourself.” Katharine Hamnett

In the 1980s, the slogan tee came into its own with Katharine Hamnett’s infamous designs. But it’s history is said to have begun a few years earlier. In the 1960s when a shop called Mr Freedom on the King’s Road in Chelsea started to sell Disney-inspired t-shirts.

Below’s a brief history of the label started by Tommy Roberts & his business partner with a selection of the slogan tee, jeans & other designs they created.


Could you help out by taking our 3-minute poll? It would be a great help. We’re trying to collect the right data so we can get better at producing products you’ll be proud to be seen with. Don’t worry. Your data will only be used to improve the products we sell, so your data won’t be sold on. Promise! See our privacy policy for peace of mind. Take part here.



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Why is slow fashion important?

The term slow fashion being used to describe a new method used to produce fashion items. It comprises of clothing made with better ethics, values & materials, when compared to fast fashion. It’s assumed they’ll be worn for longer & the materials used are normally kinder to the environment. The term is attributed to Kate Fletcher. In The Ecologist, shes quoted as saying: 

“Slow fashion is about choice, information, cultural diversity and identity. Yet, critically, it is also about balance. It requires a combination of rapid imaginative change and symbolic (fashion) expression as well as durability and long-term engaging, quality products. Slow fashion supports our psychological needs (to form identity, communicate and be creative through our clothes) as well as our physical needs (to cover and protect us from extremes of climate).”

Slow fashion makes use of more eco-friendly techniques. The collections tend to be smaller, with classic cuts. They contain more versatile items. The production practices used are closer to bespoke tailoring than mass-produced clothing. There’s an emphasis on reducing waste by using textiles which are easier to reuse or if needed, recycle.

A few slow fashion trends

Reusing clothing; The fast fashion industry we all recognise today took off after the second world war. for the first time in modern history, young people started to discover their style, rather than wearing the same clothes as their parents. In the later part of the 20th century, many different youth groups started to produce their fashion items by customising second-hand items. Punks, goths, new romantics & other rebel youth cultures are slow fashion pioneers.

Producing clothes with fewer blended materials: At the moment, splitting blended textiles is not possible but, many mainstream companies are developing ways of producing textiles that will be easier to reuse in the future.

Using natural textiles: When we wash our clothes, we produce something called microfibres. Natural fibres are better because they biodegrade. People are also finding different ways of refreshing their clothes which aren’t as damaging to the environment.

Naked woman holding a cotton plant in front of her

Ethical reasons for modern fashion techniques

development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”. 


The United Nations definition of sustainability

Picture of collapsed factory in Bangladesh

Sweatshops are a major part of fast fashion retailers. In the past, they tended to have dangerous working conditions & poor wages. Clothing production was outsourced to places where it was easier to get away with lax safety laws, lower salaries & scarcity of unions.

In 2013 The Rana Plaza factory in Bangladesh collapsed killing thousands of workers. Every year since then, Fashion Revolution Week commemorates the tragedy.

Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion (2013)by Elizabeth Cline makes the claim the US produces around 13m tons of clothing waste. Of that, 15% goes in donations (example charity shops). Of this only 20% is resold. In the UK, the highest purchasers of fast fashion items in Europe, a proposed 1p levy was rejected by parliament. It was meant to help with helping to bring down greenhouse gases. Clothing production generates around 5% of these.




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The Ultimate Guide to Learning New Skills

Learning new skills is great at any time. Right now, it’s vital for keeping everyone sane & out of trouble. Here’s a fun spin on some of the More sensible lists going around!

1.Learn Klingon: Everyone seems to be learning new languages at the moment, but how many are learning Klingon? When we do all start speaking to people we don’t live with again, it’ll be one helluva conversation starter/stopper/party piece.  ‘Qo’mey poSmoH Hol (language opens worlds)

2.Learn how to bake without flour: if you haven’t noticed, flour is still in short supply. You can use flour substitutes & the kids can legitimately complain in years to come how deprived they were.

3. Dance like no one’s watching. They’re not watching. They’re listening with a glass against the wall

4. Plan the holiday you’ll no be able to take because either you’re brassic (broke). Or all airlines stop flying.

5.Learn how to make cocktails with the strange-looking stuff sitting in the back of your drinks cupboard. Or the dregs left from last night.

6. Learn first aid as it could come in handy after learning numbers 2, 3 & 5.