The Club of Odd Volumes is turning designer clothing manufacturing on its head

This two-person Victorian company is helping cash-strapped helping artists, designers and brands get their work seen by offering an affordable printing service utilising digital technology.

Designers Sarah Anderson and Matt Johnson are the husband and wife team behind The Club of Odd Volumes, a textile print studio based in Melbourne, Victoria, offering digital printing services to designers and artists who can often find themselves priced out of traditional printing services.

Fast becoming an institution within Victoria’s creative industries since being established in 2012, part of Odd Volume’s success is revealed in their name: With sophisticated direct-to-garment digital printing removing the need for minimums and extravagant setup costs, customers can order in volumes that suit their needs – even if the need is for just one item.

They are the ideal alternative to traditional printing.

The agility of their small-run manufacturing model isn’t just good business sense; it also fosters creativity by allowing artists to test designs before committing to larger orders. Offering both digital and screen printing, Odd Volumes has appealed to both local and international businesses, designers, and artists who want to print and sell custom homewares, apparel and designer goods in often greatly differing volumes.

“When we started our business, we had ideas about printing in bulk and making millions online because it seemed so easy” says co-owner Sarah Anderson.

“We quickly realised this meant gambling on designs, huge start up costs in inventory, and predicting customers sizing. Because of this, we thought it seemed better to print one at a time and play it by ear. If people like our work we make more. We felt this was a simple concept a lot of artists were craving.”

To produce work without the huge costs they frequently encountered at traditional printers, some design businesses have chosen to move production overseas, which often means losing some level of quality control.

“Dealing with offshore production ourselves, it is very hit and miss on what you are going to get. There are crazy minimum orders, sampling costs, complicated shipping expenses with sea, airfreight and customs. This can also mean 30 to 90 day production schedules. This is not ideal when you just want to make one tee for a mate and see if anyone else likes it.”

The team has learnt that small businesses and individuals often order two to three digitally printed units before they are willing to invest in screen-printed bulk runs. Screen printing is usually cheaper and faster the more you print. This means The Club of Odd Volumes has been able to handle brands of all sizes and quickly deal with demand.

“As artists ourselves, we care and can help designers get the best results. We are a two-person team, not a massive print shop. We don’t charge extra to help fix artwork, [charge] rush fees, or have hidden costs. We do not run our business by a strict set of rules and hoops that customers have to jump through.

“We like to think you get an honest, personal approach, making artists feel like it is not some scary big business transaction.

“We print for all sorts of artists and individuals. Some designs we love so much we ask the artists to join our online Odd Collective store. We are continually excited about seeing how artwork will translate on apparel and homewares. It’s not just a job for us.”