The making of: Digital Printing

When I founded Elworthy Studio (three years ago!), I had many decisions to make.  One of the first was choosing which printing method to use for my fabrics and wallpapers.  


I was very familiar with screen printing and heat transfer printing, and also had experience with block printing.  Digital printing on fabric was new to me.  I was initially off-put by the lack of human touch.  It seemed strange to create art by hand, pouring my energy into the creative process…only to have the final designs printed by a machine.  After researching thoroughly, it was clear that digital printing was the best method for my designs and my business.  Here’s why:

 Where it all begins: hand painted floral motifs from our Botanica design

Where it all begins: hand painted floral motifs from our Botanica design

Aesthetics

My designs are adapted from my original artwork, which features intricate textures, subtle details, and many colors.  Digital printing is the best print technique to capture these qualities and translate my original artwork into home decor.  The image quality is outstanding and consistent, and retains the beauty of my hand-created artwork. I absolutely love the way screen and block printed products look, but for MY artwork, digital printing works best.

 Botanica wallpaper, fresh from the printer

Botanica wallpaper, fresh from the printer

Environmental factors

Digital printing is more environmentally responsible than other printing processes.  My suppliers use refillable cartridges of low to no VOC water-based pigment inks.  Compared to other printing processes, there is minimal waste with digital printing (and absolutely no hazardous waste).  No water is used in the process, and there is no leftover ink after a print run.  I love that I don’t need to worry about leftover inks or solvents going into the water supply.  Pigment inks are also more light and wash fast than other dyes, resulting in fabrics and wallpapers that will stand the test of time.

 Printing in action: yards of Botanica and Miramar fabric samples!

Printing in action: yards of Botanica and Miramar fabric samples!

Practical advantages

Digital printing allows for a made-to-order business model which further minimizes waste (and the need to stock inventory) while making it easy for clients to customize my designs.  

 

Every printing process has its benefits and its limitations.   For now, digital printing is the best fit for my small business and my values.  The landscape of textile printing continues to evolve with technology, and I look forward to seeing more advancements in eco-friendly processes. 

Thank you to my suppliers Twenty2 Wallpaper and Adaptive Textiles for providing photography for this post and for helping bring my designs to life!