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Shop Talk: From Small Beginnings

(April/May 2018) posted on Mon Apr 23, 2018

Print is far from dead for these ever-expanding screen printing operations.


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By Andy MacDougall

We’re lucky people, getting to play with squeegees all day. Returning to Austin for the Flatstock 65 concert poster exhibition at SXSW in March, I was surrounded by screen printers and screen printing – and yes, even a bit of digitally printed stuff. An enterprising local sticker shop cut deals with the poster artists and offered DTG shirts printed on the spot: Pick your shirt, pick a design. The artists got a fair royalty and people got some unique art reproductions exclusive to Flatstock and not from one of the online scammers. No worries, though, silk screen fans: The digitalians were surrounded by 99-percent pure screen printed posterage.



For yours truly, the show was great, but it was time I spent at two similar but unique Austin-based screen shops that made the trip memorable. Together, these shops provide about 40 examples of why this is a great business to be in (40 being the approximate number of people now working at the two companies).

Industry Print Shop and Kong Screen Printing are examples of the DIY ethos that permeates the process. And the beautiful studios they occupy today are testimony to the lessons learned and applied as they grew. It’s a story that is repeated by screen printers around the globe, and it’s endlessly fascinating to watch a garage or bedroom screen shop morph and expand outward and upward, the skills soon outpacing the equipment. The leaps of faith an owner must take to expand and follow opportunity are exceeded only by the knowledge they rapidly acquire as the scale and footprint of their operations increase.


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