Screen Printing vs Embroidery: Why Not Both?

Screen Printing vs Embroidery Image source: Inlandempirescreenprinting.com   

Embroidery or screen printing? Screen printing or embroidery? For some of you, designing your line of custom clothing is a cinch. You just go with your gut and that's that. I envy those people -- I'm the type of guy who has to spend hours weighing all of the pros and cons about a decision before I can finally make up my mind. Fortunately, for indecisive people like me there's a third option. And because I'm not nearly as cute as this adorable little girl, I'll let her do the talking:   http://youtu.be/NuEIsqeRR1o  

She makes a good point.  

Why don't we have both screen printing and embroidery?  

I'm not trying to be overly rhetorical here -- there is actually a good answer. Screen printing and embroidery typically don't mix very well because they have very different aesthetic effects. Embroidery appears more old-fashioned and formal, while screen-printing is much more informal. Mixing the two can send out strange mixed messages and make it seem like the designer doesn't quite know what he wants to do.  

Does that mean that it's impossible to design an article of clothing that has screen printing, embroidery, and it looks good? Of course not!   As proof, I'd like to point to the art of Diana Meyer. She took important photos from her past and embroidered art directly into the photograph. Meyer explains on her website, "The project refers to the failures of photography in preserving experience and personal history as well as the means by which photographs become nostalgic objects that obscure objective understandings of the past."  Diane Meyer Art Image source: Dianemeyer.net

She's trying to show the audience just how flat photographs are compared to the actual experience (and she does a brilliant job, I must say). Her artwork also conveys how beautiful embroidery and printing can be together. The beauty lies in the stark contrast because each style makes up for the other style's inadequacies. The printed photograph is clear and colorful but flat. The embroidery is pixelated and limited in color but it brings depth and texture to the art piece. Diane Meyer Artwork Image source: Dianemeyer.net

Just beautiful!   Much like Meyer, you can create a truly memorable and innovative custom clothing design by coming up with creative ways to combine embroidery and screen printing. You could use embroidery to draw attention to certain parts of your screen print design or vice versa.   Personally, I would like to use embroidery to frame a screen printed image. Think of a framed painting -- the painting itself is flat and detailed, and the picture frame has deep textures and dull colors to avoid distracting viewers from the real artwork. Thick, textured embroidery lines could act as a frame around a highly detailed screen printed image. The end result would be truly eye-catching.  

There are examples of hybrid art everywhere if you know where to look. Just take a gander at this gorgeous aquarium-bird cage hybrid. You'd normally think that these two things wouldn't go well together, but in reality they make a beautiful pair.

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