Allow 2 weeks.
Is it really that simple? No. Not exactly. But let's look at all of the pieces that go into a project like this:
- First is the art. Is your art correctly formatted to be printed on merchandise? It needs to be a VECTOR file. A vector file means that it is drawn using lines. If your art is a .jpg or .png file, it will not work. If it is a photograph, it will not work. It has to be .ai or .pdf, and even that doesn't prove anything. If you don't have art that is formatted correctly, it will have to be recreated by a designer. Allow time for this, easily a couple of hours. If you don't know if your art is formatted correctly, ask a professional!
- Second is the setup. Once the printing company receives the art (formatted properly) they have to do a "setup" and they'll send a proof. You or your designer will view the proof and approve it before it goes any further. Allow at least a couple of hours to a whole day for this.
- Then it's sent to print. This is a variable for most companies, based on how much money you want to spend. Typical print times are close to 5 days. Usually the shortest turn around is 2 or 3 days, but they WILL charge you a rush fee. The rush fee can easily be twice as expensive as a standard printing fee.
- Finally is shipping. This might not apply if you have someone in your home town that can provide whatever merchandise you need. But in many cases, your printer will be out of town, and maybe out of state. Shipping is like printing...you can get it fast, but it will cost you. You can get it shipped overnight, if you have the money!