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Child's Play: Training the Next Generation of Makers

(February/March 2018) posted on Tue Feb 27, 2018

A fun, interactive workshop could be just what it takes to inspire the next wave of screen printers.

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By Andy MacDougall

The words “age appropriate” get thrown around a lot about what young people watch on TV, what websites they visit, and how topics like sex and drugs should be introduced at the dinner table or in the classroom. The term is also relevant in screen printing. The pages of this magazine usually address adults already in the industry. Consultants and trainers deal with the same demographic. SGIA Education Connection’s scholarship awards are aimed at college students. Many of the student competitors in the annual Golden Image Awards at the SGIA Expo come from high schools with amazing screen printing programs. Let’s not forget the Skills USA competitions for high schools with categories from our mishmash of an industry: Screen Printing Technology, along with Graphic Communications, Graphic Imaging Sublimation, T-Shirt Design, and Advertising Design.

But what about the little kids? Is it possible to deliver an age-appropriate art program introducing them to screen printing? And why would you want to participate in one, as I recently did?

Because it’s fun. Fun for the kids, and fun for the staff.

Because it’s creative. With the right approach, you can teach them a lot more than pushing ink through a screen. You can help them create something they end up printing on a shirt they can wear.

Because many kids and a surprising number of adults don’t understand things are “made.” They only know how to buy a product from Walmart or Amazon. Teach them about being makers, not order takers.

Because analog matters. As kids become more attached to a digital universe and addicted to their screens, many don’t get the opportunity to create with their hands. They rarely feel the pride of crafting a useful object.

Most important to this industry, unless dad or mom works in a print or design shop, today’s youth have no idea we exist as a place they may want to work one day. How’s a kid going to dream about being a screen printer when they grow up?


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