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A frustrating attempt to get a piece of art printed on a black T-shirt has led to a part-time business for a Spotsylvania veteran.
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Currently, customers can either submit images or commission Caminos to create them. He will be adding a new tool to his website, kagrafix.com, which will give them the ability to design or customize apparel online by uploading their own image or using images available on the site. These will include some of his custom images.
The self-taught artist, who was born on Oahu, recently created a vivid image of bronzed and tattooed Hawaiians paddling a canoe through deep blue water on his computer for a canoe club. Members wanted it printed on a rash guard, a popular type of athletic shirt for water sports.
"I'm not limited to colors. I don't have to measure out all the chemicals and mix them in a bucket like silk-screen printers do," said Caminos.
Instead, his state-of-the-art software program and NeoFlex Digital Shirt Printer can create more than 16 million colors and print designs on about 21 cotton shirts per hour.
It stands next to the new Roland VersaStudio BN-20 printer, which creates transfers. These can be heat set on polyester athletic shirts and canvas totes or turned into personalized wine bottle labels and stickers for car windows.
"It can also handle metallic prints so it looks like real metal," Caminos said.
T-shirts are popular with everyone from kids on sports teams to national theater companies promoting their latest productions. Printing them has become a dollar industry, and Caminos said he researched it thoroughly before taking the plunge.
He decided to go the digital route instead of silk screening, which is more labor intensive. And he started calling the manufacturers of digital printers six months before attending the Imprinted Sportswear Show in Atlantic City to select his equipment.
"I got to see all the fancy toys in the industry, all the cutting-edge equipment" Caminos said. "Everyone was there."
He took along an image he'd created of a gun being fired, and asked various vendors to print it so he could test their machines. He wanted to see if they could capture the realism of the gun barrel, the motion of the bullet and the haze of the vapor trail it created.
"It's one thing to have a sample shipped and another to see the process in real time," Caminos said.