In April 2017, we met with Anthony Skirvin, owner of Ape Do Good Printing.
Ape Do Good Printing has been specializing in screen printing tshirts, sweatshirts, and most other garments as well as paper and flatstock printing since 2002. They are located in heart of the San Francisco’s Mission District. They offer up to 10 color automatic printing with hand printing available. 100% of everything they produce is printed right here in San Francisco.
How did the company get started?
In 1999 I split an art studio in Hunters Point with a furniture builder and a seamstress. I was using the space to make screen prints for local art shows. Occasionally, people would come by the studio and ask me to print for them. I would do the job, and then put the earnings toward a piece of equipment, inks, supplies etc.
It took a few years of sweat equity to get the right equipment and supplies. In 2002, I filed for my business license, and soon enough I ran out of physical space in Hunter’s Point and had to move. In 2005, I found a warehouse in the Mission that I couldn’t afford, so I split it with two women that were starting a clothing company, now called Curator. We helped each other grow. We still help each other grow.
I started hiring employees and began learning how to be a boss. I’m still learning how to be a boss.
Pictured below: Anthony Skirvin, Owner of Ape Do Good Printing.
Can you share a few facts and numbers?
• According to the counter on our Automatic press, we’ve printed almost 4.5 million shirts. That doesn’t include anything on our manual press or any of the paper printing.
• When they were filming the movie HARVEY MILK here in San Francisco, we were asked to recreate the t-shirt that Harvey wore during one of his marches. Sean Penn wore it in the movie. It made us very proud to be part of that.
• We have two printers named Peter and we are currently looking for a third Peter.
You’re good at this! Anything else?
I can tell you about the top 3 questions that clients ask us that are unrelated to their job:
• 1) Q: where did the name come from?
• 2) Q: Do you guys always eat lunch all together? A: Yes, family style. We set up a table, everyone pulls up a seat. We talk about unrelated work topics and get to know each other better.
• 3) Q: What is in that bottle on the shelf? [Note: you’ll have to visit Ape Do Good to see it!] A: A cobra, a tarantula, some ginger and alcohol. I don’t know what kind of alcohol it is, but I saw Anthony Bourdain guzzling it on his show when he visited Vietnam. It was a gift.
Anything new at Ape Do Good?
Yes. From the beginning, we’ve been asked from time to time to allow school classes to come in and tour our shop. 30 or so students come by during these tours. We will talk about the process, go over the equipment, and do a Q&A.
The last class that came through were a group of 8th Graders from Creative Arts Charter School. About 2 weeks after the tour we received an envelope of letters. Each of the kids had hand written us a thank you letter for showing them around. That simple gesture brightened everyone’s morning. Watching the staff read those letters with huge smiles on their faces made all the difficulties of having a business in San Francisco worth it. That’s new.
What does the future hold / what should we look forward to from you?
Almost all of the blank garments we print on, we source from other companies like American Apparel, Alterative Apparel, Haines, etc. We want to change that.
We’ve starting producing shirts right here in the bay area. This is ground up construction, not just replacing the tag on some garments that were made overseas. A 100% local option is the future for us.
Why print locally?
Having a shop that our clients can walk into and see our process is important. Feeling fabrics, seeing ink colors, special techniques, and talking with us one on one about your vision is all important as well.
Why did you join SFMade?
Mark from Rickshaw bags told us about SF Made. He came in to Press-check their first few designs. We started talking and he told me about SF Made, that it was a Non-Profit to help businesses like ours. Seemed like a much need breath of fresh air, so I joined!
-an interview by Janet & Pierre @ SFMade