Got a band? Need some shirts to sell for merch? Are you on a budget? Of course you’re on a budget, you’re in a band.

I started Vacord Screen Printing in 2006 because I had a band. It was a noise band in Philly called MOTHER. A two person band, me and one of my best friends Sanchez. Finally, I was in some sort of band, and we of course needed shirts. Sanchez put together a design and I contacted a friend of a friend who did screen printing, and he quoted me on 100 shirts and I thought it was too expensive, so I went and got a little speedball art kit and did them myself, which then turned into doing shirt projects for fun and for other people, which has now grown into a significant business known nationwide with several employees.

But enough about me, what about your band? You need awesome shirts so you can sell them at shows, but you also need a good deal because you want your margin to be nice on those sales. Here are some tips to keep it affordable.

  1. KISS or Keep It Simple, Stupid – KISS is sort of my motto in life. For every color in the design, there is a screen. And for every location too. So a 3 color front and 3 color back print is going to cost a lot more than a 1 color front print. Keep it simple and that will keep the cost down. A LOT.
  2. Two color designs can have a big impact – If you must have more than one color in your design, try just using two colors, as that second color as an accent color won’t add much cost to your project, but can add a whole lot visually to your design.
  3. Keep it one sided – Like I mentioned in #1, every location is a screen, or a set of screens. If you keep your design on the front only, that can keep it cheap.
  4. Use affordable but nice – Most people love American Apparel, but they’re not the cheapest shirts obviously. On the other hand, a lot of people don’t want a regular old boxy tshirt. But there are many very affordable shirts that are made from ringspun cotton, like Anvil 980 or Gildan g640. These may only be fifty cents more per shirt compared to their boxier, less soft cousins, but a lot cheaper than the high-end shirts like American Apparel or Alternative. Remember that you’re trying to convince people to give you dollars for these shirts, so the shirt itself needs to be nice and something people will actually want against their bodies. (Similar to why you should try to shower on tour).
  5. Discharge ink – Discharge ink is getting more popular, but not all screen printers use it. We do, of course. Discharge works by becoming part of the shirt, instead of being a layer of ink on top, like traditional ink. And discharge doesn’t have to be more expensive; instead it can actually be cheaper because it’s easier and faster to print in a lot of cases. And it’s way more awesome of a result, which can help in actually moving the shirts off the merch table.
  6. Take advantage of price breaks – Like a basement power noise show, screen printing pricing is all about volume, volume, volume. Our price breaks are at 24, 48, 100, 200, and 500 pieces. The price difference per shirt if you go from 48 to 100 pieces can be significant, which helps your margin when you sell the shirts. Sometimes a band may ask for 90 shirts, then learn that it would be actually cheaper in total to get 100. Always ask about price breaks.
  7. Want variety? Mix up the shirt color, not the design – If you want to keep it cheap but get some variety still, try mixing up the color of shirts. White discharge ink will look good on a ton of different shirt colors, so instead of getting 100 black shirts, you could do something crazy like try other colors than just black. As long as the design is kept the same, the pricing is still based on how many shirts we print at a time, so adding in a variety of shirt colors doesn’t change that. And like most printers we can change the ink for a small fee, so you could do 50 shirts with red ink on black, and then 50 shirts with black ink on red, and not increase the total order cost much.
  8. Don’t procrastinate – Leaving for tour in a week? Rush fees can hurt, so it’s best to start talking to a screen printer earlier. Starting the conversation a month before you need the shirts gives us plenty of time to discuss pricing, iron out details, and print and ship the shirts before you have to have them for your next tour or big local show.

If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to us.


Need shirts for your band? We would love to help with that. We have reasonable rates and transparent pricing combined with quality print results and easy customer service, as well as FREE SETUP and FREE GROUND SHIPPING. Need pricing or have questions about ordering? Call us at 888-787-4587 for help, or email us at, or use the quote form on our website.


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