Some call her the “T-Shirt Lady” while others admire her work as a graphic designer who designed her logos and business cards.
Stacey Patty isn’t picky about what others call her. She’s just grateful for using her fine arts degree to color our world.
Patty, who owns Stacey Heil Design, grew up in Blount County and graduated from William Blount High School in 1993. She then enrolled at the University of Tennessee, earning a degree in graphic design. While many in the community know her as Stacey Heil, she recently married Mike Patty and changed her name.
When they touch, it’s definitely about the city. She designed the logo, menus and website for the local restaurant The Walnut Kitchen. She went into business for herself shortly after college.
In addition to her corporate graphic design work, Patty began screen printing t-shirts a few years ago, working at Studio 212 in Maryville. She is now alone with this side business, which she calls 865 Studio Shirts.
Some have likely seen them at various public events set up along the sidewalks in downtown Maryville. Assembling and disassembling her equipment was a little time consuming so she could screen print on site so this artist had an idea.
A new idea is taking root
“I told my husband I wanted to convert something – maybe a motor home or a horse trailer – into a mobile screen printing unit,” Patty explained. “We just posted it on Facebook and asked if anyone had one that they just wanted to get rid of.”
It turned out someone did. Patty has a friend who gave her a pop-up camper, so she and her husband got to work.
“So we tore it down,” said the artist. Then they brought it back to life in a new form as a mobile unit for screen printing. The patties built the tables so that they could easily be folded up for travel. They installed a rubber floor. Now you can attach it and take it with you wherever you go.
She screened T-shirts on Broadway and East Tennessee Makers Market that summer, both of which were canceled this year. But Patty has branched out and offered her services to schools, cafes, breweries, and others where an establishment is possible.
It was a reward to be able to attend a local school event where she designed a t-shirt for students, teachers, etc. If they bring their own t-shirt, it only costs $ 5 to add unique designs.
This is her business model wherever she goes. As she explained, she’s not in the t-shirt business; Hence, their goal is not to sell hundreds of shirts in a day.
“I make small quantities of t-shirts,” said Patty. “I’m more design-oriented.”
She was in elementary schools in Montvale, Townsend, and Friendsville. Sometimes it’s for a science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) event, she said. Participants can spend a few dollars and take away some sort of souvenir. When someone comes without their own t-shirt, she brings something to buy.
We love our Dolly Parton
Check out some of her designs and it’s pretty obvious she’s an East Tennessee girl. Patty does many designs with themes such as hiking, fishing, and the Great Smoky Mountains. Dolly Parton is also in the front and in the middle. Patty has cut her figure on t-shirts and pillows.
“It doesn’t matter what side of the political fence you are on, how you wear a mask, or what happens to this crazy virus,” she said. “I like that people have a moment of brevity and smile at the designs because they are relevant to the entire community and region. Who doesn’t think Dolly is an Appalachian queen? Who can’t relate to the Great Smoky Mountains? Who doesn’t enjoy this beautiful country we live, work, raise our children called Tennessee? “
Patty’s goal is to conjure up that smile as she rides and moves with her popup.
Customers wanting shirts for bachelorette parties and members of the motorcycle club have asked Patty for designs and then printed stacks of shirts and she is happy to commit. It’s a very affordable option, the artist said, as it costs $ 5 per shirt.
One of her recent endeavors is to offer screen printing courses through Airbnb. Patty has said the response so far has been positive. She will guide the workshop students through all phases of the process.
“It starts with an idea for a design, then preliminary sketches, and finally a full computer rendering that is then printed on a transparency,” she said. “The blank screen is coated with a light-sensitive emulsion, which is then placed on a light table with the design transparency in between.”
This process is known as “burning the screen,” Patty explained. The result is the stencil, which is then sprayed with water to remove it from the screen, leaving the hardened emulsion behind. The screen is taped to prevent ink from getting through stains that are not covered by the emulsion. Next, she uses a squeegee to press ink through the screen and onto the shirt.
The shirt is then heat cured to 350 degrees. Then voila, said the artist, a printed shirt is revealed.
Those attending their two-hour workshops will take home a screen-printed T-shirt and shopping bag and poster accessories. You also have the option to have five additional items printed.
“You can see the whole process from start to finish,” Patty said. “It’s a very practical process.”
Meet Patty in person
Today, May 30th, 10am to 1pm, Patty will settle down at Little River Outdoor Resort in Townsend, where she will have her own designs for screen printing on shirts for $ 5.
She will be at the SouthSide Garage in Knoxville from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. on Saturday, June 6th and at Maryville’s Vienna Coffee House on Saturday, June 13th, from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
The renovated pop-up camper will be in tow. Patty said she’s still trying to come up with a name for it.
Patty admits that walking down the street or down the aisle of a store and seeing someone wearing her design is a great feeling.
“I scared some people in Target the other day when I said, ‘Hey! I made your shirt, ”she said. “They looked at me like I was crazy. But on the other hand, people come up to me and say, “Aren’t you the t-shirt lady?” It was an honor and a real explosion to meet members of the community. “