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Andy MacDougall

AndyMac’s Musings from an Interesting Year

Podcasts, local manufacturing, and a request for explanation of a recent industry award.

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THE BOSS WANTED some comments and feedback on the year for this special issue of Screen Printing mag. Living out on the perimeter, and things being what they were and are around the world, I didn’t go anywhere this year except to pick up Red Smokey on my one trip off the island, just after our travel ban was lifted in August. A little risky, but worth it. Now I can fill in my quarantine hours hanging a knee on a time machine, my new BFF.

Luckily, a previous introduction to Zoomzoom during the dark days of P.Y. 01 (Pandemic Year One, or as they will call it 50 years from now; 2020) let me stay in touch with people this year. And that same boss pushed me to start podcasting, which is more or less Zoom without the visuals. It’s the best new thing I learned in this horribilis annus – besides the meaning of those two words – it means bad year, get your mind out of the gutter, readers.

The podcast, titled Art, Ad, or Alchemy? launched with an interview with Dr. Martin Peacock, an electro-biochemist from England who uses screen printing to create COVID rapid testing devices, among other things in an emerging field of medicine. This was alchemy on a grand scale, and a story – in light of the pandemic and its ongoing aftermath – that needs to be shared with screen printers and the wider world. This is your process, people! It’s so much more than a gig poster or a T-shirt.

The concept behind the podcast was to look for interesting stories and characters in the screen printing universe, and present them to the readers – and listeners – of this magazine. It had recently been sold, and evolved completely from a printed publication into an online entity. I love the new format, a hybrid column-come-podcast. Unlimited words and pictures, and when you get tired of reading, your pal Andymac will do it for you in the podcast episodes. Like some wack bedtime story from your twisted uncle, anytime, anywhere.

We profiled Gemma Monostereo in Barcelona, a gig poster/fine art/textile printer, and then went into a three-episode exploration of the makerspace movement traveling to Oslo, Norway; Brooklyn, New York; and even here on Vancouver Island. We met the people behind some of these operations, where screen printing played a significant role in both the creation and development of these new manufacturing centers.

The most recent podcast came from Ft. Worth, Texas, where I caught up with Brett Bowden and Tom Davenport to talk about MADElab, a newly opened print and production testing and development facility that sets its sights on becoming a leader in advancing apparel decorating and education.

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If you haven’t listened to the podcasts, I invite you to give them a try. I’m learning as I go and trying hard to make them informative, funny, and thought-provoking. I’m hoping the textillions intermingle with the gig poster printers, the fine artists and the scientists cross over, the young printers hang with the old ones, and the wider world discovers the still fascinating and viable print process we know and love and keep using. If we’re learning one thing during this modern plague time, it’s that we need local manufacturing and processing more than ever. Worldwide supply chains are disrupted, just-in-time delivery is a joke, globalization can’t stand up to true cost economics, and climate change extremes are systematically and fundamentally changing where we live, work, and grow food. Just this past weekend, Vancouver, the largest city in western Canada, just got cut off from all ground transport. From a weekend rainstorm. Think about that. Is it regression to bring back local manufacturing capacity? No, it’s survival. And whether the rest of society knows it, screen printing is still there and still a keystone process in manufacturing: decorating, labeling, conducting electricity, or creating it.

As a cheerleader for screen printing in all its ink splattered glory, I searched the write up for mention of squeegee, mesh, or stencil – the usual identifiers. Whatever. To the kid who printed that with a brick, you can hang out with the screen printers any day. It’s beautiful.

As a cheerleader for screen printing in all its ink splattered glory, I searched the write up for mention of squeegee, mesh, or stencil – the usual identifiers. Whatever. To the kid who printed that with a brick, you can hang out with the screen printers any day. It’s beautiful.

Speaking of screen printing, I’m not sure how many readers noticed the Print Awards issue from the organization formerly known as SGIA. Printing United Alliance, having taken on as partners the PIA (Printing Industries of America) and NAPCO media, opened up what used to be the Golden Squeegee Awards, which morphed into the Golden Image Awards, and is now called the Premier Print Awards. It recognizes “the best in print communication.” It was supposed to be part of the canceled Printing United tradeshow, and would have allowed us to view the winners in real life.

I guess when your organization now includes every other print process, and they want to honor the best work from all these new categories, some confusion might occur. When I saw the screen printing section alongside all these other printing sectors, my inner squeegee heart felt pretty good. But when I read the description of the highlighted “Screen Printing Printed Product of the Year” award, I wondered: “Does the new organization even know what screen printing is?” There’s no doubt the work is beautiful and I’m sure is quite unique. I might be completely wrong (up here in Canuckastan, when they have the annual village idiot competition, I win on the regular) but when I read the description it sure sounded like the image was printed using carved bricks.

You can eat as much as you want in the coming holidays and still lose pounds. All with the miracle of Photoshop! Seriously, I hope everybody has a great year ahead in 2022. Red Smokey got hibernated, it’s just you, me, and the rain, dear.

You can eat as much as you want in the coming holidays and still lose pounds. All with the miracle of Photoshop! Seriously, I hope everybody has a great year ahead in 2022. Red Smokey got hibernated, it’s just you, me, and the rain, dear.

I’ve been around screen printing a long time (40 years) and was elected by my peers to the Academy of Screen and Digital Printing Technology (although I feel like I am only qualified to fetch drinks and snacks for my much smarter and knowledgeable Academy members), but never in all those years have I seen or heard of a screen printing technique that uses a brick to print ink through a stencil.

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If anything, the entry should have gone in Lithography. “Lithos” meaning stone in the ancient vernacular that still exists to define the different printing processes. I guess I could also ask about the “Glass, Ceramic, Metal, and Wood” category (printed on a Heidelberg) and the “Printed Electronics” winner (printed on an Epson Pro 9910, although I do note they screen printed some part of it, but neglected to include any description of that press).

My rocking chair arrived this year, a 1982 BMW R100RS named Red Smokey. Added bonus: Hans Muth, the legendary designer of this classic motorcycle, signed the side panel. I decided to keep Cat Ballou (the 1150 oilhead) and instituted a riding rotation so they don’t get jealous.

My rocking chair arrived this year, a 1982 BMW R100RS named Red Smokey. Added bonus: Hans Muth, the legendary designer of this classic motorcycle, signed the side panel. I decided to keep Cat Ballou (the 1150 oilhead) and instituted a riding rotation so they don’t get jealous.

They did get the textile part right, and a shout out to Night Owls in Houston, Texas for the wins. And Lorenz Boegli won in “Specialty – They Said it Couldn’t Be Done” category, with a ganged up sheet of postcards in a tritone.

From the judges’ description: “I honestly didn’t think it could be done, and I still can’t believe it was done…” Well, believe it. Screen printing. Ask for it by name.

Have a great holiday season, everyone. We can catch up in 2022. Red Smokey is calling, it’s stopped raining, I think we’re done writing for now. Pick your moments, enjoy friends and family, try to learn something new every day, and always keep your squeegees sharp.

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Andy MacDougall is a screen printing trainer and consultant based on Vancouver Island in Canada, and a member of the Academy of Screen & Digital Printing Technology. If you have production problems you’d like to see him address in “Shop Talk,” email your comments and questions to [email protected]

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