Studio Visit: Man vs Ink
Fred DiMeglio is Man vs Ink. Though after spending some time in his studio and working with him to print the Hand & Eye bandanas, I can say that he seems perhaps more like “Man with Ink.” DiMeglio doesn't fight the ink, in fact really, he manipulates it skillfully. But then again, Man vs Ink does have a much better ring to it.
DiMeglio moved to Brooklyn after a stint in Portland Oregon. He’s been screen printing for years but his Brooklyn setup is built specifically for bandanas. It’s well thought out, with sliding walls, a giant exposure box that he made mounted on the wall, and of course, a gigantic screen printer which is his main tool of the trade.
The process of printing a bandana like this is not so simple. First the bandanas themselves must be died. DiMeglio does this at his family’s place in Pennsylvania where he has a little more room. He brings those back to NYC and uses a discharge ink process to print the bandanas.
From his site: “The ink is applied by hand using a silk screen and reacts with the dye in the bandana. Once the printed garment is exposed to heat, the ink evaporates, taking the dye with it. That means that there is no pigment on the surface, which lets the bandanas feel soft over their entire surface.”
It also means the bandanas have the print on each side, a design element that was critical for us when searching for a partner to make our bandanas. Surprisingly this is really hard to find these days in the U.S. and even harder to find for small run orders.
On a recent afternoon, DiMeglio taught me how to print. I was surprised just how much force it takes to slide the rubber squeegee over the screen, let alone the exact measurements needed to mix the ink, and exact temperatures needed to perfectly bake each piece after printing. Screen printing, I learned, is part science, part art and part muscle. Man vs Ink has all those.