Personalization. It’s Not Just Applying Numbers and Logos…
Let me start off this post by saying that I’ve been in the personalization game in one way or another for 30 years. I started as a part time artist at a local print shop when I was 15. I would go in at 5am and get my assignments for the day and discuss them with the art director. I’d then leave and get to school by 7. My mom had to tote me back and forth because I couldn’t drive yet. When I got home at the end of the day, I would design logos or hand letter placecards or whatever the task called for and turn them in the next morning. I’ve done screen printing, I’ve hand lettered signs on vehicles, worked in a shop that specialized in Letterpress signage, airbrushed Christmas shirts, and the list goes on. If there’s an item that could benefit from some form of personalization, I’ve personalized it! I think this gives me a unique perspective in the decorated item arena.
Somewhere along the way – and I’m sure it happens to most artists or decorators, you get tired of doing the same thing. Tired of the jersey personalization, tired of making the same mugs over and over, tired of the same numbers and fonts… the personalization becomes anything but.
Many years ago, I was asked to airbrush a jacket for a friend’s daughter. Her dog Midnite had recently passed away and she wanted her daughter to have a way to keep her best friend close by. I painted the portrait, thinking it was just another job. Things changed when I actually presented the jacket to the girl. She was so excited! To see her smile and wide eyes, it made me realize that even though it was another jacket, another job, that it wasn’t about me. The experience wasn’t for me, it was for that little girl.
As decorators, we’re not just decorating shirts and hats, we’re helping people express their individuality or helping them to fit in with the team. We’re helping kids feel closer to their heroes by making that replica jersey. We’re delivering the lucky shirts to the bowling team, and fostering a sense of togetherness when we decorate the jackets for the dance team. We’re even helping someone to remember an old friend.
We help you show your love for a brand. We help you show your desire to find a cure, and we give you your first number – that turns into your lucky number! With reflective materials, we keep you safe at night. We ask you to “Vote for Pedro” and tell people to “Have a Nice Day“. We empower people to make a difference and say what’s on their mind. We give artists a way to showcase their skills and we help people fit in and, when they want, help them to stand out.
The power isn’t in the printing, it’s in the personalization. It’s not about the numbers and letters, it’s about the experience of the recipient. Personalizing garments can be whatever you make of it. You can think of it as the same stuff over and over, weeding and applying, or you can see the bigger picture. The power of personalization is real. As a decorator, you’re not just printing socks or pillowcases, you’re helping create smiles and memories.