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Is “YouTube U” Worth Your While?

The Brain Squad comments on online education for up-and-coming screen printers.




ANDY MACDOUGALL’S RECENT column “Talented Young Creatives” received some interesting feedback on Instagram. Reaction centered specifically on his comments about what he referred to as “YouTube University” – the rising trend of leveraging social media and other online platforms to learn (or to teach) the trade. Whatever impressions his words left on readers, Andy emphasizes he sees nothing inherently wrong with this form of education. On the contrary, “I’m guilty of posting any number of how-to’s on the platform in question,” he writes. “YouTube is an incredible resource.”

That said, he still stands by his original point. “I’ve used it any number of times to figure out how to drain the oil from my lawn tractor or fix something on my motorcycle. But that didn’t make me a mechanic, and if I walked into a motorcycle shop to get a job, I can’t imagine they would hire me because I watched some videos. People become good printers because they stick with it, and put real press time in, and learn, always learn — from other people, books, vids, whatever. It never stops.”

Given the back-and-forth surrounding this issue, we thought it worth asking the rest of the Brain Squad for their thoughts, as well. Here’s a sampling of what they had to say:

  • I think YouTube is useful for people who are just starting out and do not have the resources or money to obtain professional education or training. That’s how everyone starts. That said, I’m really happy to see new resources like Made Lab offering legit classes to newbies in the industry. If Made Lab were around eight years ago, it likely would have saved us a lot of headaches and elevated our growth at a much faster, more fluid pace. — Jessica Tillery, All Quality Graphics
  • YouTube, like all information online, should be curated and vetted. When I started screen printing decades ago, it was not as easy to find relevant information. Overall, the future looks bright.  — Ron Goodwin, Goodwin Graphics
  • [Online education is] helpful — I’m glad it exists. But nothing can take the place of two key elements of education. 1) Working with people who really know what they are doing and are willing to share that knowledge, and 2) attending equipment shows where professionals are sharing acquired knowledge little bit by little bit. No video can take the place of those two things. — Larry Mays, Mays Marketing Group
  • It’s a great way to learn about what is going on and new tricks. — Shannon McKinnon, Aisle6ix Industries
  • I watched a lot of Ryonet videos when I was brand new! It’s great to help others who are starting out, be it on YouTube, Reddit, or elsewhere. Gatekeeping does not benefit the trade. There’s enough work to go around if we work together. — Ian Graham, Fine Southern Gentlemen
  • I think it’s a great resource for introducing people to screen printing. From the ’60s through the ’90s everything was very secretive. I’m not sure why exactly, but that included me. — Robert Francis, ScreenPrintPlus
  • YouTube provides an excellent resource for those who want to learn more about screen printing or teach others how to do it. From basic techniques like exposing a screen and setting up a press to more advanced topics such as color separations and multi-color prints, there are plenty of videos available that can help you get started in this industry. — Andrew Monteyne, All-County Apparel
  • YouTube has been a fantastic resource for learning. — Chris Wachowiak, Ronin Branding
  • I’ve been utilizing YouTube university for a very long time. I love the community support through tutorials and reviews. It’s a great forum to explore the many deeper parts of your hobbies and interests.  — Maxwell Beehner, Family Industries
  • I think it is a great avenue to seek information. However, you must be very discerning about the source, and you must practice and learn through trial and error to determine if the information you are consuming truly benefits your business. — Alison Banholzer, Wear Your Spirit Warehouse
  • It’s why the industry is moving forward. The days of it being a guarded secret are over. If someone is willing to learn, teach them! You’re only threatened if you’re supplying a subpar product. — Sam Lapcevic, Branded Threads
  • Any social medium that encourages young people to want to screen print or garment decorate is a benefit to our industry. — Tracey Johnston-Aldworth, Traces Screen Printing
  • I think it’s great. Back when I started, none of that was available to us, so it was learning at tradeshows, from another shop, or mostly by trial and error. — Dee Reeve, the E.B. Wood Group
  • I come from a teaching background and will continue to use my Squeegee & Ink YouTube channel to educate my fellow printers and anyone thinking about getting into the industry. There is a lot of “get rich quick” content, but that has never been the focus of my work. If you know you are putting out well-researched videos, then you can be confident and not take this kind of criticism as a personal attack, as it shouldn’t relate to you. — Chessie Rosier-Parker, Squeegee and Ink
  • As with anything on the internet, there is an abundance of excellent and horrendous information. Platforms like YouTube, Discord, and certain Facebook groups can be invaluable if you’re connecting with the best minds and talent the industry has to offer. I wish these platforms existed when I started screen printing in the mid-’90s. I sure would have liked to be able to message someone like Richard Greaves (and get a reply) back then! — Scott Garnett, King Screen
  • I have young people working for me who have learned to screen print by watching YouTube videos and then going out to do it. I prefer that to hiring someone who has learned bad habits working at another shop or hiring someone who is new to the field. YouTube is good because you can get so many opinions about how to burn a screen or mix ink, so you can figure out what best works for you. After 50-plus years in printing, I am still learning every day – just not by social media but the old fashion way of talking to people and trying something new. — John Wilhelmsen, Distinct Impression
  • Any social media platform can be used for learning. Caveat to that is that not all posts have accurate, helpful, or even truthful information. Do your own work and test for yourself. — Marshall Atkinson, Atkinson Consulting
  • I think it is an important part of our business. I use YouTube to find out what’s new and exciting all the time for our industry. It also helps me find out what is a flop.  — Shaun McCarthy, GL Imprinting
  • There is so much crap and just wrong information on YouTube. It is often challenging to vet the value of what is being taught. — Mark Coudray, Coudray Growth Tech
  • I am not a fan of YouTube because anyone can post, even if the information given is incorrect. Those who are somewhat new to the industry wouldn’t know good information from bad. If the person doing the presentation is recognizable as someone who knows what they are doing, then I’m for it. — Charlie Taublieb, Taublieb Consulting
  • YouTube can be an outstanding educational tool. I wish I had the time to create videos myself because I think we have a lot to offer flatstock / graphics printers, and there’s a dearth of both quality and quantity. — Kyle Baker, Baker Prints
  • It can be good and bad. You need to know the right ones to watch. — Shawn LaFave, North Georgia Promotions
  • If it works for people, then more power to them. — Jim Heiser, Bullseye Activewear

What’s the Brain Squad?

If you’re the owner or top manager of a U.S.screen-printing business, you’re invited to join the Screen Printing Brain Squad. Take one five-minute quiz a month, and you’ll be featured prominently in this magazine, and make your voice heard on key issues affecting screen-print pros. Sign up here.




Let’s Talk About It

Creating a More Diverse and Inclusive Screen Printing Industry

LET’S TALK About It: Part 3 discusses how four screen printers have employed people with disabilities, why you should consider doing the same, the resources that are available, and more. Watch the live webinar, held August 16, moderated by Adrienne Palmer, editor-in-chief, Screen Printing magazine, with panelists Ali Banholzer, Amber Massey, Ryan Moor, and Jed Seifert. The multi-part series is hosted exclusively by ROQ.US and U.N.I.T.E Together. Let’s Talk About It: Part 1 focused on Black, female screen printers and can be watched here; Part 2 focused on the LGBTQ+ community and can be watched here.

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