Art Supply Insiders Podcast

ASI 28 "Sublimation Markers & Supplies" Interview with Ashley Ciccero, Director of Sales & Marketing for Artesprix

May 30, 2022 Jeff Morrow & Dave Lee
Art Supply Insiders Podcast
ASI 28 "Sublimation Markers & Supplies" Interview with Ashley Ciccero, Director of Sales & Marketing for Artesprix
Show Notes Transcript

Artesprix is the first company to offer artists and crafters an entire ecosystem of sublimation products without having to use a sublimation printer. Ashley Ciccero, Director of Sales & Marketing for Artesprix, removes the mystery of sublimation (the process of taking a design on paper and transferring it to objects using heat and pressure). Artesprix transformed the sublimation world when they introduced sublimation markers, stamp pads, and acrylic paints to the iron-on market in 2018. Click here to view everything Artesprix has to offer.
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And welcome back to art supply insiders. My name is Jeff Morrow, and today we're talking with Ashley Ciccero who is the director of sales and marketing for Artesprix. Did I say all of that? Right, Ashley? Spot on Jeff. Thank you. So welcome. And thank you for being a part of our podcast. Can you tell us a little bit about Artesprix?

Who are they? How did you come into being that kind of stuff? Well,

Ashley00:32

thank you so much for having us on the show this morning. I'm so glad to have connected with you all at, uh, NAMTA uh, Creativation uh, earlier in April. Just so wonderful to have you guys stop by the booth and invite us to be on your podcast. So thank you so much.

Um, Artesprix is a sublimation arts and craft supply company. So then the next question is what is. Sublimation, you know, what

Jeff00:59

is sublimation? You're right. I had to ask it what is

Ashley01:02

sublimation? So, uh, from a chemistry term, which we joke we are chemists gone crafters it's when something goes from a solid to a gas and skipping that liquid face.

So if you think about an ice cube and you put an ice cube in the sun, it goes from a solid to a liquid, to a gas. So with sublimation, we're actually cutting out that middle liquid phase. So it is the. Process of taking a design, which is on paper and we are transferring it to objects with heat and pressure.

And the big deal is that it's lifetime permanent. Um, it will never wash big cracker peel. Um, as long as the, uh, blank that you're putting it on or the substrate, which is the $20 word. Uh, is compatible. And I can go into a little bit about what that means. So that is what sublimation is. And before Artexprix you had to have a fancy sublimation printer in order to experience this level of personalization until we hit the scene in 2018 and we debuted our us patented sublimation markers.

And since then we've grown the line, um, to. Uh, paints, which we actually just released yesterday, uh, uh, nine different color stamp pads with ink refills, um, that compliment those. And then we also have blanks and the supplies that, uh, you need to in order to do a sublimation project successfully. So

Jeff02:28

let me jump back a little bit here.

So could I just take a Sharpie and draw it on a piece of paper and get it to adhere to a white t-shirt?

Ashley02:39

No, that would not work. Um, unfortunately the Sharpie ink is not magic ink. I joke that we bring a new term the, to the phrase, um, magic marker. Okay. So, um, you need to have, uh, the. The magic ink, which comes in, you know, marker form, uh, like I mentioned, stamp platform and now paint form, or you could use a printer, which is the, what I call traditional sublimation.

So when I say traditional sublimation, I'm referencing, um, the printer version. And, um, and then that t-shirt, if you tried to do a cotton t-shirt it would just wash out. So actually it needs to have a polyester blend. If it's a fabric and the more polyester count that's in the fabric, um, that's the fibers in the fabric that will actually hold onto the ink for that lifetime compatibility.

And if it's a hard surface blank, like a coaster or a key chain or a mug, it actually has a polyester coating. That's been applied by the manufacturer and that's what makes it lifetime P.

Jeff03:44

wow. That's a lot. So let, let's kind of walk somebody through exactly what the process is. So if somebody wanted to get involved in this.

They'd first need to buy your markers. Is, is that the first step? And, and, and then what,

Ashley04:01

so our markers are stamp pads or our paint, you know, you basically just need some type of sublimation ink. You need that compatible blank. So whether that's a polyester t-shirt or a poly coded mug, um, you would need that.

And then you would need a heat source, uh, to apply that heat and pressure. Um, and that can be anything from a home iron, for small projects. Traditional sublimaters don't use home irons because you're trying to get like the freckles on my face or the blue hint of my eyes to be exact. But with craft sublimation, you can definitely use a home iron for those small projects like bookmarks and key chains.

And then as you graduate, you would want your heat source to be bigger, to compliment your bigger blank. So for example, like a, a t-shirt you would wanna use a heat. Or something like that. So

Jeff04:49

as, so we, we, we get your markers. Do we just get a regular blank piece of paper or does it have to be magic

Ashley04:56

paper?

Yes. That's a great question, Jeff. And actually it's a question. We get a lot. So with traditional sublimation, you have to use sublimation paper and there's all sorts of brands out there. But with Artesprix products, you can use any type of paper. And we actually say. Don't use the fancy sublimation paper.

Save it for when you need it. If you have one of those printers, you can use copy paper, line, paper, graph, paper, mixed media paper, card stock. Really? Any paper goes.

Jeff05:22

So let's just say that, you know, we've, we've got somebody that's in school and they've got some lined paper when you do this sublimation and you do this pressing on will the lines of the paper show up on the

Ashley05:34

t-shirt.

No, well not because those lines are not sublimation ink. So the only ink that will transfer is the sublimation ink. So if you look at like our blogs or some of our step by step processes, um, the first thing we actually tell people to do is. Trace your blank with a pencil on the piece of copy paper. So if you have a, a coaster, you just take a pencil and then you trace it.

So then that way, you know how big your template is. So you can just design in that circle. And the reason we say do it with a pencil is because pencil doesn't transfer Sharpie, doesn't transfer ballpoint, pencil, transfer those on those line papers. Um, like on the line paper and graph paper will not transfer either.

Jeff06:14

Is there anything that will transfer that you have to be careful of?

Ashley06:18

Um, just that sublimation ink. So we actually say, don't trace your coaster with a sublimation marker because then you'll have a border that maybe you weren't intending to be with your design.

Jeff06:28

Wow. So now this is a proprietary thing to Artexprix

Ashley06:33

right?

Yes, sir. So the markers, uh, we received the us patent on those in 2020, uh, they're Cana, uh, patent pending in Canada, and then the stamp pads are also patent pending and that's looking great for us as.

Jeff06:47

Wow. So you've got Mar and so how many colors do you have in the markers and are they all, are they like fine tip?

Do they have chisel points? What, what do they look

like?

Ashley06:57

Um, so I, I know it looks like I have more colors here than 10, but right now we actually only have 10 markers they're chisel tip. So then that way you have that diversity from a smaller point to a, uh, larger, you know, the fat side as I call it.

Switch it around. Um, and then, um, with the stamp pads, we have nine colors and then with the paints, um, we actually have four subtable colors plus a white lightning acrylic, medium. And that's just so that way you can create all the different shades that you'd like with the paint.

Jeff07:29

So it, it, it sounds like you just get a piece of paper, you just kind of sketch it out with a pencil and much like paint by numbers.

You just kind of fill in the colors wherever you want. Is that kind of the way it

Ashley07:42

goes? Exactly. And what's really cool about, um, our products as well is there's no rules about when you have to transfer. Let's say you start creating and then you've gotta go to the grocery store, pick up the kids or do whatever you can leave that, um, design there, come back to it.

As you please, we've seen things transferred up to a year later, so there's no rules about when you have to transfer your design. Wow.

Jeff08:05

So can you also combine markers with your stamp pads, with your paints? Yes, you can do all the.

Ashley08:15

You can do all the above. And what's really cool is like on the paper, it will feel like there was paint there.

But then on the blank, once it's transferred, if you were vision impaired, you wouldn't even know if there's a, uh, design there because it becomes one with the blank, it becomes infused into it and embedded in the fabric or the coding. And you would, it, you can't feel it at.

Jeff08:38

So real quick, if, if, if our audience has interest in this, where do they go to find out more about this whole sublimation art process?

Ashley08:53

Um, you can go to our website, Artexprix.com or irononink.com, which is. Easier to spell, uh, for those who might be only listening. And, uh, and then you can also connect with us on all of our socials, which is Artesprix across the board, Instagram, Facebook, um, all that good stuff. And, and you can, and if you go to, um, YouTube and type in Artesprix, there are tons of videos.

We have, um, affiliates, design, team members, uh, resellers our videos as well. So there's a plethora of information that you can find on.

Jeff09:23

So they, they go to, what did you say it was Artexprix?

Ashley09:28

Yes. That's a ARTESPRIX.com or irononinc.com.

Jeff09:36

Now, when you are using paint, it's gotta be your specific paint because that's a sublimation paint.

Is that correct?

Ashley09:44

Correct. And just like, um, traditional sublimation. So if you were to look. A print, a printout from a sublimation printer, it looks very muted or dull. And you might think if it, your a first time user, you might think there's something wrong with your printer. Um, so once it's transferred and that heat and pressure is applied, the colors really come to life.

So that's the same thing across the board for our paint and our markers. And our stamp has the color on the paper is very different from when it's transferred. So we, we say it's a part of the magic.

Jeff10:16

So I, I was, I was checking out your website a little bit before we talked here and I noticed that if you've, you've got how many colors in the, in the, uh, paint, this is an acrylic paint,

Ashley10:28

right?

Correct. Actually, if you want me to grab some, I have 'em. I have four colors, um, the four colors and the acrylic lightning medium. Okay. So this is, um, our red, which almost looks more like a magenta, um, black, which almost looks gray. Right? Blue yellow and that acrylic white lightning medium. So in sublimation and even traditional sublimation, there's no such thing as white ink.

Okay. So this is just, this is just white acrylic paint to help you create your, all your colors of the rainbow. Uh, white will not transfer. And a lot of the blanks and, uh, the things that your project will go on, uh, are white. So then that way you get that true color transfer, they do have things like sublimation vinyl and, uh, different things that you could use.

If you wanted to put it on like a black shirt that I'm wearing, or maybe something that's not polyester compatible.

Jeff11:24

Got it. So if somebody wanted to mix colors, uh, do you have you, you have a color chart and a mixing chart on your website? Don't you?

Ashley11:34

We do. If you go, if you go to support, um, support tab, there is a color mixing chart.

And that's just to get you started. Of course the possibilities are truly endless, but, um, I know that, like for example, a lot of the people walking the show floor at NAMTA they probably don't need that color mixing chart, but definitely somebody like myself or maybe somebody who's more of a marker user or a stamper scrapbooker, uh, that color mixing chart is definitely something to have handy of your first time working with our.

Jeff12:03

Or somebody like me, definitely.

Ashley12:06

Yes. And it actually gives you a great idea of what the color looks like transferred. So that's, what's nice about the color mixing chart. You know, you may mix it on the paper and say, this does not look like the sharp truth. That's on the color mixing chart, but just have faith.

Once you apply that heat and pressure, your colors will come to life.

Jeff12:22

And so on the acrylic paint, it's more of a, a fluid acrylic than it is a, a thick acrylic.

Ashley12:29

Correct. Yeah, we actually, um, there's a few reasons for that. We wanted it to be nice and smooth, so that way you truly could work with any sort of paper.

And then we also love working with, um, gel press plates. I don't know if you're familiar with that. Um, but they are wonderful tool and are actually great for mirroring things as well. So with sublimation, your design does have to be mirrored. Now when you're doing seahorse or butterflies or scenes, it doesn't really matter.

The only time that really matters. Text, um, and, and the gel press plate does help with that because you're designing on the gel press plate, then transferring it to the paper, then transferring it to

Jeff13:07

the blank. So what, when you say it has to be mirrored, um, some of our audience might not understand what you're talking about there.

Explain a little bit more about what you're talking about mirrored.

Ashley13:19

So with sublimation, since we're designing on paper, and then we're taking that paper and then we're flipping it over and applying it to our blank before, uh, we transfer it does need to be backwards. So, um, as mentioned, Flowers and designs.

It really doesn't matter, but with text it, you definitely need to be aware that, uh, it does need to be backwards. So, um, there's lots of tools for that. You could use a cutting machine behind me and put our, one of our markers in it and have you, it do the. Mirrored text for you, and then you could color it in or paint it in.

You could print something offline and use a light box and simply just flip it over in traces. And then stencils are also a wonderful tool. Just take any old stencil that you might be using for other crafting and flip it over. And there's your mirrored text right there.

Jeff14:10

Now, would these markers work in a cricket machine?

Ashley14:13

Uh, they do that. You just have to have an off brand adapter. Um, the silhouette, uh, has an, a pen adapter set. Um, and you just use that, that they have that's branded with their machine. Um, the brother scan and cut, no adapter needed. It fits right in. So it just depends on which machine you have, but there's a solution for all of them.

Jeff14:33

We talked about markers, we've talked about acrylics. We've talked about stamping. What, what other products do you guys offer?

Ashley14:42

so we have all sorts of blanks. Um, the idea behind the blanks that we have is that we try to. Um, all different sorts of materials that, um, you can transfer to. We want people to see that, you know, it goes beyond polyester fabric.

Uh, so we have a lot of hard surface blanks that have that, uh, special coding that's been applied by the manufacturer. Um, we're all about, um, helping the. Beginner sublime. So we try to use the best blanks, but of course the possibility for blanks are truly endless. If you go to amazon.com and you type in sublimation blanks, I mean, you will, I'm, I'm scared to know how many pages it would go on for

Um, so we have a handful of blanks that we offer for, uh, someone who's looking to get started. We also try to bundle a lot of things. So it comes with, um, the ink, some blanks, and then we also offer. Um, the supply side. So things like, uh, heat resistant tape to keep your blank in place during the transfer process to prevent any shifting.

So your design looks exactly how you, how it intended. Um, because going back to the process of sublimation, that design is turning into a gas and we wanted to go right back down where we intended. So we developed some, uh, heat resistant tape that fits in a standard tape dispenser. That's something that we offered.

And then something else that we developed is, um, or offer in craft form, I should say is a siliconized paper. So it's actually what we call protective paper. Um, the ink is very powerful and as much as your design is super cute, you don't want it to go on your home iron and on your next project or on the whatever work surface you're working on underneath.

So, um, We're all about professional level tools in craft form. And those people like Shutterfly, you know, just to name, drop that business. Uh that's they use siliconized paper to protect their very large heat presses and all their work surfaces umno. So we have that available in a role. That's what you see behind me.

And people just absolutely love our siliconized paper for other things, cuz it's non porous. So you could use it for maybe, you know, as. as a pallet type situation or other things I've seen old makers use it for all, all sorts of reasons. So we just developed some supplies to help you along the way, uh, with your first supplementation project.

And,

Jeff17:03

and you offer a, a, a total kit, right? For, for beginners. If, if they want to buy everything just in one package, they can do that through you too.

Ashley17:13

Yeah. So right now we have a, uh, beginner's kit. It has. Blanks markers, that heat tape and that protective paper that I was mentioning. And then of course we offer everything separately.

So we like to truly think of it as a starter kit. Sometimes you get, um, These, you know, art kits and you literally only have enough just to do those projects in there. The markers, the tape, and the protective paper will take you beyond what blanks are in the, in the box. So you, all you need is more blanks and maybe some more protective paper eventually.

And if you, uh, wanna just use maybe something around the house, parchment paper is a great option, cuz it's meant for high heat. Um, So that's an option that you could use as well. You just certainly wanna protect your work surfaces and your heat

Jeff17:57

source. So you, you go about, and you, you, you do your art and then you heat transfer it on, just keep using a t-shirt.

And so you can, you can wash that t-shirt you can do anything. You don't have to worry about it bleeding or bleaching out or fading.

Ashley18:15

Exactly. So, um, actually I've been doing a wash test at home on. On a t-shirt I've had for a long time and we're like 60 or 70 washes in. And my husband is like, when do we stop throwing this in the white load?

And I'm like, I don't know. We're just gonna keep going. We just have a little post-it note tally. So that's, what's really great about sublimation. Is it truly is permanent. You can put those mugs in those tumblers and the, in the dishwasher. Um, you don't have to worry about hand washing. You don't have to worry about.

Um, it peeling or cracking? Uh there's no, sometimes after an art project, get the seal it or do something afterwards, as soon as you do that transfer and you lift your paper up, that coaster is ready to go. You don't have to do anything to it. It is lifetime permanent.

Jeff18:59

Now you just mentioned a Tumblr. I don't think you put an iron on top of a Tumblr to get it, to stick to it.

Do you.

Ashley19:08

No, that's correct. So there are, um, heat presses that are cylinder shaped oh. That you can use for, for drink wear. Um, also there are, um, people are using like your craft oven. So if you have an oven in your craft room that maybe you're using for polymer clay, Or something like that. You can also, you start using it for sublimation as well.

Um, basically there's these, uh, shrink wraps, which we actually also offer they're called sublimation wraps. And after you take your design and you tape it with that heat resistant tape to. The, um, drinkware, you take that shrink wrap, you put it around, it, hit it with the heat gun for like ten second and it shrinks up and that's your pressure.

And then you put it in the oven and for about 350° for five minutes, and then you'll have a permanent design as well. And then for the real professionals, there's things called sublimation like vacuum ovens, and that's how they make dog bowls. Shot glasses and all sorts of

Jeff20:07

stuff. I, I, is there anything that you shouldn't do sublimation on or is it pretty much anything you can

Ashley20:14

I say that if it exists in real life as a.

Regular object. Then someone has made a sublimation version of that object. So going back to the fabric, um, like t-shirts and bags and things like that, you just wanna make sure it has that polyester count. Sometimes all you need to do is just check that tag. And then for the hard surface goods, you just need to make sure that that word sublimation is in front of it.

So it's sublimation coaster, sublimation, cutting board sublimation key chain. So those are the rules of thumb. When looking for a compatible.

Jeff20:47

And, and you can put embellishments after it's been on the t-shirt you can do pretty much anything you want after the sublimation part is done. Is that correct?

Ashley20:57

Definitely. Definitely. Mixed media is, uh, is very popular to add on top of your sublimation. Now, I don't know if it'll go through 70 washes, like the design will, but. But you can definitely, you know, Beda it with, um, you know, jewels or, uh, sometimes even our paper crafters love to add like 3d elements on top of maybe a background that they've done on a panel.

Um, we actually have a blog, uh, on our homepage right now that someone did. A panel and then they added a 3d paper crafting elements on top and it turned out really cool.

Jeff21:30

So, uh, tell our audience one more time. Where can they go to see, I mean, you've got YouTubes, you've got blogs, you've got all that kind of stuff on your website.

Correct.

Ashley21:39

Yeah. So please visit our website. That's Artexprix.com, A RT E S P R I X.com or irononinc.com. You can see blogs, uh, which are great. We have a design team that are, is truly talented. And then of course you can shop our products as well. And then we also have a, a dealer network. So you never know if your favorite craft craft store might already have it.

And if they don't let 'em know that you wanna have some Artesprix products in the store.

Jeff22:08

Well, Ashley, thank you very much for being on the show today. I, um, I never knew about sublimation before our talk today and I'll bet you, a lot of our audience doesn't understand it, but I bet you, they understand it a whole lot better now.

Ashley22:24

right. Well, and of course a video is worth a thousand words. So, uh, definitely go check out, uh, YouTube type in Artexprix. And then once you see the project in action, uh, you'll, you'll definitely have a better understanding of it, for sure.

Jeff22:39

Ashley. Thank you very much. We really appreciate you being on today.

Ashley22:43

thank you for having us.

Jeff22:45

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