November 13, 2019

Theresa Java/Free Press
John and Amy Brehm flank their newly installed flatbed UV printer which allows them to print on nearly any surface material.

Theresa Java/Free Press John and Amy Brehm flank their newly installed flatbed UV printer which allows them to print on nearly any surface material.

KEY LARGO — The lulling rhythm of a high-end printer fills the Ugly Fish Apparel & Printing shop. Owner John Brehm takes the customized logo-printed T-shirt from the garment printer to the twin hot press.

After a series of beep alarms, he takes the front and back printed blue shirt and says, “We’re filling an order and need to print 250 of these.”

Theresa Java/Free Press 
Ugly Fish Apparel & Printing owner John Brehm offers his high-performance ArchipelaGear fishing shirts.

An intricate machine with a web of spools sews logos to fabric.

“It’s fascinating to watch,” Amy, who co-owns and operates the shop alongside her husband, said of the new equipment. “The logo has to be digitized on X and Y coordinates. It takes about 15 minutes per shirt usually.”

The print shop offers DTG printing, sublimation printing, UV printing and white toner printing.

Ugly Fish’s apparel line, ArchipelaGear, features high-performance shirts, fishing shirts and more with a custom logo printed on it.

The couple had a Mimaki UV flatbed printer installed last week. It’s capable of printing on virtually any surface, according to Brehm.

“The installer said this is the seventh one installed in the state and likely the only one in the Keys,” he said.

During a demonstration, the rotating tumbler was seemingly blank in the hypnotizing UV beam.

“It’s printing the primer ink now. It’s etching into the material to give the ink something to grab onto,” he said. The machine prints on phones, laptops and other electronics and causes no damage since UV is used to seal the ink.

The UV printer enables Ugly Fish Apparel & Printing to print custom designs on anything from tumblers and mugs as well as photos on metal or canvas. The print shop also offers customized mermaid pillows, pillowcases, towels, hats and more.

Customer Bonnie Eaves picked up posters bearing military insignia in time for St. Justin the Martyr Catholic Church’s Veterans Day service.

“These look great,” she said, before adding name tags to her order.

With a large-format printer, Ugly Fish also prints signs, and designs and installs car wraps.

“We do it all. We offer print, sewn or traditional silk screen shirts,” Brehm said. “Anything to make your business look more professional with really reasonable prices.”

An image printed on a 12-by-18-inch sheet of metal is generally $25, and a 2-by-3-foot high-end monomount print is about $200. he said.

Amy added that they now offer Braille signage since the arrival of the new UV printer.

Brehm made a quixotic decision 10 years ago to purchase a rudimentary screen-printing machine to start up their business, and over the years, his client base has grown.

Last year, he moved his business to Key Largo’s Central Plaza. The couple’s two young daughters are often at the shop.

“They love to push the green button,” Amy said.

Brehm said the turnaround time for most work is within two weeks, including the car and boat wraps. Delivery to the Islamorada area is free of charge.

“I have slept here on the floor before to get a job done,” he said. “Luckily, I left here at 1 a.m. last night.”

Brehm said he devotes a lot of time keeping up to date with the newest printing technology.

He and Amy flew to Dallas for seven hours to attend a trade show a few weeks ago.

“That was the first hands-on experience we had with this new printer,” he said. “Every day we are printing something different and we are able to make people happy.

Ugly Fish Apparel & Printing is located at 103200 Overseas Highway, Suite 6.

Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday. Weekends are by appointment only.

For more information, visit, find them on Facebook or call 305-395-9602.