Back to School

Screen Printing's editor dives into industry training.

Do you remember your first day of school? Cartoon-themed lunch bag and oversized book bag in tow, sporting a brand-new outfit, with a parental figure guiding you to a daunting yellow school bus filled with kids who just looked like they already belonged. 

Replace the Disney packs with a laptop, business-casual dress, and a stack of fresh business cards, flash forward roughly 25 years, and there’s me on the first day of SGIA’s WB/Camp in Sacramento – my first screen printing event. 

Unlike my actual first day of kindergarten, in my public school uniform, crying to my dad not to leave me, I was excited – and definitely overdressed – but ready to dive into unfamiliar territory.

The room was filled with industry vets and print service provider powerhouses and we all had one thing in common. We were there to learn. And that’s exactly what we did. 

Not only did I receive a full day of water-based ink education, I also learned a plethora of new terms like emulsion, flash mechanic, and donut probe. I’m not going to lie; this last one got me. At a wide-format printing event a couple of years ago I could have sworn I heard “hot dog hour.” You can imagine my level of disappoint when I showed up to “happy hour.” However, donut probes do exist! 

I made some friends, too. I finally got to meet Screen Printing columnist Marshall Atkinson, freelance writer and industry expert Mark Coudray, and Rising Stars Award winner Danny Gruninger of Denver Print House. Frank Vacanti, art production manager at Live Nation Merchandise, shared legendary stories from Winterland and what it’s like to print merch for Madonna, Rolling Stones, and Grateful Dead over boxed lunches and chocolate chip cookies (I told you it was like grade school). And Brett Bowden, owner of Printed Threads and the event’s emcee, kept me laughing with some of the best dry humor and comedic timing I’ve witnessed in a while. 

When my dad picked me up from school that first day long ago, my tone had changed. With a smile on my face and pep in my step, I told him I had the best first day; I couldn’t wait to go back. 

Thanks for the best first day, screen printers. I can’t wait for the next one.

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