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Meet the 2021 WISP Award Winners: Iris Sautier
Iris Sautier
President | La Bourgeoise Sérigraphe
Montreal, Quebec

“THROUGH THE YEARS and as the director of a very multifaceted studio, Iris has been faced with numerous technical challenges and therefore has developed and refined a capacity to solve just about any problem related to the technique,” says Robert Bellemare, president, Artbeat Studio. “Confident that she can rely on the support of her team and of mentors in the field, she welcomes atypical projects with great enthusiasm, the will to develop new processes and to try unconventional ways of printing to reach her goal.”

Your nomination form states you make sure to constantly improve both what your studio has to offer and your equipment to extend your market. Why is continuous education and purchasing the latest and greatest equipment so important to you? 

I am working on a very small scale and still printing manually for now, so I cannot say I go for the newest machines. The important thing for me is to always be on the move and to constantly be looking for a way to improve and diversify what I do. I believe screen-printing is a competitive field – especially in my line of work that’s more artistic than commercial – and you cannot ever stagnate, or your competitors will run you over!

How has it affected you personally and your business?

I think having to always stay ahead of your game really helps you not to fall into some routine and prevents you from ending up bored with your job. Staying alert and constantly rethinking the way I am working and what I have to offer really led me to seize unexpected opportunities whenever they presented themselves.

Meet the 2021 WISP Award Winners: Iris Sautier
It also states “Iris’s studio has been training a growing number of printmakers for the last 10 years. Can you share your experience mentoring and educating?

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For me there are two sides to teaching screen-printing. On one hand, giving beginner classes is incredibly enriching because it brings participants so much joy and often opens theirs eyes on this kind of crafty job (in contrast to more common computer-driven jobs). Aside from that, there’s the harsher reality: running a screen-printing business is a really hard job! Many students in print or young creatives I meet ask me what to do to start their own business in screen printing. They are so full of hopes and illusions because the only thing they see is the “cool” factor of the trade. Most of the times they are not aware of the fact that you must be very resilient and very hard working if you want to succeed in that field and that this will probably never make you very rich (at least money-wise). I have seen many people start and fail once they realize it’s not all that glamorous. Conversely, there will be someone, occasionally, who has a completely new approach to the business or a unique capacity to draw the crowds .

What does being a woman in the screen printing industry mean to you?

I am lucky to never have felt “inferior” because I am a woman. My mom is a rather feisty figure who was happy I did what she couldn’t do (she was never allowed to work), and there are other women entrepreneurs in my ancestors. I like to think it is a family trait. Once you become a business owner, you tend to naturally gravitate around other entrepreneurs, and in that way, I can say that probably half of my friends are women in business. So, to be honest, I never spent too much time reflecting about our gender, we are just proud to be successful entrepreneurs, and that’s all there is to it!

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