I hear this very sentence hundreds of times a day and it never gets old. The reason the prints are not plastic-like or crackly is because of a non-destructive bleaching process I do called 'Discharge Printing'. Instead of laying down a super thick, opaque layer of water or oil based ink; I lay down a thin layer of environmentally friendly chemicals that pull the color out of the fabric. This renders a super soft print that holds up to washing much better than the other two inferior processes I just mentioned.
The bleaching out of the color occurs while heat curing the clear ink on the fabric. Check the video link below to watch as I manually cure a discharge printed shirt.
Odds are, if you have landed on this site it’s because you paid me a visit at one of my market locations. Let me reintroduce myself – my name is Bryan Close and I am the guy behind Camera Monster. About 16 years ago I picked up my mom’s old ’80s Fujica and started burning film in hopes of becoming an editorial and advertising photographer. I succeeded, with work being published in the USA, France, and the UK regularly over a span of about 5 years. As time passed and the job grew tedious, I realized how much more I enjoyed geeking out on everything from the newest digital sensor technology and lens optical formulas, to turn-of-the-century print processes and timeless mechanical photo equipment. The collection of cameras started about 9 years ago when I quit my job and started vending my urban landscape photographic artwork on the streets of Manhattan. Though money was tight after art studio expenses and supplies, I managed to save up and get my hands on a couple of gems. With the collection slowly building, I started a tumblr blog that featured dream cameras of mine, as well as artistic photos of people with their cameras that I found around the net. This page opened my eyes to how many people loved these classic contraptions. In 2012, while sharing a studio with a screen printer friend of mine, I decided to try my hand at camera shirts. I had always thought that all of the camera shirt offerings on the web were tacky or shoved out there. I set out to create imagery that was true to the style and classic look of these historic cameras. No frills, no quirky sayings. The line of designs exploded seemingly over night with the most amazing customers sharing their heartfelt camera/photography stories while they picked out the camera design that resonated most with them. I honed in the materials and processes over the first year, which has culminated in my current product – soft, durable, stylish. The fabric and discharge chemistry (ink) as better quality than your normal factory-made garments by leaps and bounds. I am able to offer them so inexpensively due to the fact that I keep my studio and retail rent so astronomically low. Shirts of similar quality regularly range between $45 and $75. To top it all off, the designs are produced in extremely low volumes compared to corporate stores, and every purchase goes to support a local Brooklyn artist.
Where do I source my blank tee shirts? After about a year of hardcore research, I made my final choice to print on tees made by a company named ‘Bella & Canvas’. They are based out of L.A., have been in business for 22 years, and have a jaw-dropping resume. First and foremost, I print on a mix of garments that are made in the USA and abroad. All of the factories abroad are located in South America and Africa, and boast a W.R.A.P. Gold certification. They are certified safe, lawful, ethical, and humane. They are 100% sweatshop free. Both the factories abroad and at home pride themselves on being ultra sustainable, with very little waste reaching a landfill. Almost everything they can’t turn into a shirt is either recycled or repurposed. The factories at home are 100% solar powered, from the sewing floor to the offices. They are also paper free … no paper waste in an environmentally conscious move by them. The fabrics themselves start with the company's creation of the smoothest threads, which are then knit at the finest gage possible. It’s a similar concept to high thread count sheets. The shirts are created using super high quality ring-spun cotton blends – never carded open end, inferior quality abrasive fabric. The designs are never tubular either. That means that your shirt fits like a tailored garment as it is cut to fit the body front to back.