User login

Drumming Up Business from Unexpected Sources

(August 2010) posted on Wed Aug 11, 2010

Screen printing the weird is a great activity

click an image below to view slideshow

By Andy MacDougall

Kelly and her team at White Raven Consulting ( are all university graduates and hold degrees in fine art, graphics, anthropology, business, creative writing, and journalism. They provide a range of graphic-design, communication, and economic-development services, from logo and exhibit design to Website development, reports, and conferences. White Raven Consulting is a unique agency in that its members incorporate Nuu-chah-nulth values, traditional knowledge, and cultural sensitivity into their day-to-day business dealings.

White Raven had assisted in putting together an accord between native groups and businesses that created a best-practices guide to help save and strengthen the wild salmon that are found in the waters of Vancouver Island. As a way to mark the stakeholders’ agreement, they came up with the idea of putting the Tsawalk Partnership’s logo on traditional ceremonial drums and then had all of the associated people sign the drums. The drums were displayed in each business or band office to cement the agreement, reminding all parties that they’re one with the earth and the salmon and each other. And the drums looked cool! These were no $5 engraved MDF wall plaques.

Back to printing the drums. Now, if this were a big production run, I would have spent some time to make a proper nesting jig and work out the details for indexing the second color. I would have also asked for some extra drums for setup—just in case. But these were prototypes, and extras were not available.

Applying screen-printing techniques
I got some masking tape, registered each drum into two pads stuck to the table top, and placed the masking tape under the two bullseyes on the screen. I printed the first color, making sure I also hit the registration marks and that they printed onto the tape. I then moved each drum until the bullseyes on the tape aligned with the ones on the screen, printed the second color, and peeled the tape away after the print. The graphics looked great, registration was tight, and the printing went quickly.

Here’s the neat part: Kelly made some inquiries at a number of galleries in Victoria and Vancouver and found out these types of drums retail for $350-600, depending on the art. Collectible drums are hand painted, which limits availability and prices them out of the souvenir market. She found a wholesale drum maker to produce the blanks, and we worked out a simple method of multicolor printing that yields flawless results. Better still, the whole project requires very little startup capital, uses local art, and provides work and income for people in need. The drums should be in production by the fall.

What a great example of traditional culture mixed into arts-based business development—with a dash of creativity and a cup of screen printing. Let’s bang on that drum!


Did you enjoy this article? Click here to subscribe to the magazine.