Respect the Art: Upholding a Realistic Print Standard with Mockups and Sweat

Jesse MacKenzie
June 17th, 2015

Respect the Art Intro

Introduction to Respect the Art

This is the first post in our Respect the Art series. The purpose of these posts will be to demonstrate all of the ways we strive at Trust to respect every piece of art that we receive. We will look across all of the departments of Trust and through all of our processes to explain all of the small things that we do that culminate into very big things—consistent prints that match the art as closely as possible.
We consider ourselves artists and creators. We believe in the power of design, detail and craftsmanship. We operate with the idea that every piece of art is important and personal to the customer and we assume responsibility as if we were creating prints of a famous painting. We love our role as the bridge between art and mass-production. Whether the shirts are for retail, promotional materials, or a family reunion—we know it is vital that we produce garments people will love wearing. We refuse to be the reason a garment goes unworn. We believe that means matching and reproducing each piece of art as closely as possible within the restrictions of screen printing.

Art Desk

Respecting the Art with Mockups

We Put in the Time Before your Order Ever Comes In

One of the ways we respect the art is by respecting the power of our mockups. The majority of the time and effort was put into our mockups during down time so that orders can receive consistent mockups every time. Our mockups are built completely in-house from our own photos. Over the years we have spent countless hours setting up lighting, optimizing camera settings, carefully laying out garments, shooting, photo editing, resizing, and organizing to build a comprehensive database of mockups to be used on every order.

The mockups that we send to our customers are as accurate and realistic as possible. We put a lot of R&D into making our mockup templates more life-like and built scripts and actions to make them repeatable and consistent. We currently have 90 specific blanks, shapes, and sizes in our database and that number is growing. Each one is sized to scale, so it can serve as an accurate representation of the art on the blank. Each mockup has the shadows and highlights of the fabric overlaying on the art and the seams, zippers, and pockets gouging into the print realistically.

We constantly upkeep our styles, colors and blends. We have over 320 specific blends and textures and more than 635 solid color swatches. Each blend and color references a specific brand and is built by hand to perfectly match the real fabric. We have found this system to be extremely accurate, but on the rare occasion a blank doesn’t match the fabric in our system we immediately update the database so it won’t happen again.

Color Comparison

We Take Our Time on Each Order

Each of our mockups is hand-crafted by a trained artist. We aren’t using a mockup program and we didn’t buy templates or actions. Each piece of art we receive is placed on each blank with care. We take into consideration the blend, the printing method, the color combinations, and our ever-expanding knowledge of how prints react in every possible situation. This step of the process is an important filter. We are creating around 50 mockups per day on average, and we’ve gone as high as 200—but we try our honest best to catch any possible problems and suggest any changes to optimize each piece of art for production.

We Stick to Our Mockups

We do as much work as possible before the order ever makes it to production, but we recognize there are countless factors that can cause the print to react differently than we anticipate. So every order that we print comes in from production for a press check with our art department. We review the details of the order and critically compare the print to the mockup. In most cases we are our own harshest critics, and I’ve been the recipient of many a sigh from our printers as I asked to see yet another color-change to make sure we are hitting the art perfectly.

We assume that our mockups have been shared publicly and we stake our reputation on meeting the expectations set by those mockups. By taking the high road on the front end with photorealistic mockups and careful hand-crafted mockup creation and taking the high road on the back end with critical press checks and a company wide mindset to never settle, we ensure that whenever our customers open up their Trust box they will be ecstatic to see they got exactly what they wanted.


Jesse is our Creative Director. He splits his time between the Art Department and Creative duties, looking to innovate and push the company in both areas (unless he overslept.)

Filed under: Respect the Art