Come Together: A Series

As the pandemic develops on a daily basis, screen printers from around the globe share how it’s impacting their lives.

“I’ve heard a lot of times that we have no historical memory, or as the Spanish saying goes, ‘Humans are the only animals that trip over the same stone twice.’ Hopefully this time we’ll get the message the world is trying to send, and we get it right… And we won’t forget, again.” - Gemma Berenguer, owner of Monostereo.

In the middle of this COVID-19 pandemic, things carry on. One of those is my column. The problem is, whatever I write by deadline is not published for weeks. In this fast, evolving disaster, that time frame renders most things out of date. Way out of date. Example: Whatever I was blathering on about last issue – tradeshows, live music, live printing, or what the ’20s might be remembered for – has disappeared for the foreseeable future, and is trite in comparison to what is going on around the world.

My editor, Adrienne, and I decided we would try something a bit different with this issue. We’re going to take Shop Talk online after we burn through our 900-word limit. I’ve reached out to a group of screen printers around the world to see how things are going in their specific communities. What’s really happening in Spain? France? Canada? USA? Mexico? I picked a mixed bag of textile printers, art and rock poster printers, and industrial printers. We have CEOs of big operations and small, one-person shops. We have people you know, and people you don’t.  

The pandemic is like a tsunami as it radiates waves, and screen printers are going to get hit in different ways and at different times depending on where they live. It’s not one and done like a typical disaster that hits and ends, gone from the news cycle in a week. 

As a starting point, I asked our correspondents for their thoughts on the following as it relates to the pandemic in their business, their community, and their life. “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity…” You might recognize the quote from Charles Dickens’ “A Tale of Two Cities” circa 1775. Or it might describe what just happened between last issue and now. Is something good going to come out of this? Or is it all bad? What’s the news from Barcelona? Or Connecticut? Let’s find out.

“Although the circumstances are catastrophic for most, it’s the small artisans, those who work from home, who are for once the most in-demand now that ‘bigger’ companies are on hiatus. Furthermore, there is a massive movement to turn to local makers and support the economy of Quebec, [because] the borders are closed.” - Iris Sautier, owner, La Bourgeoise Sérigraphe, Montreal, Quebec, Canada

“During this global event, I feel positioned uniquely as a leader in the community to witness an amazing metamorphosis of everyone in the world, and all those we come in contact with. Some people are much more giving, benevolent, and helpful instead of only focusing on themselves. I am seeing it every day. Sustainability has a whole new meaning during this global health crisis. We must sustain ourselves, our families and loved ones, our businesses, and charities. Everything is a challenge.” - Edward Cook CEO, ECI Screen Print, and immediate past chairman of the Board of Directors, SGIA, Watertown, Connecticut 

“A good thing happening right now, maybe the best I’d say, is that Barcelona’s air pollution levels haven’t been this low since 1920, 100 years ago. The sky is so clean and sharp it seems my eyes got an upgrade to HD vision. Air is so pure it almost hurts when you breathe.” - Gemma Berenguer, owner, Monostereo, Barcelona, Spain

“In France, in terms of health, the situation is gradually improving. Yesterday evening [April 13], we learned that we will come out of confinement on May 11 (it is total here; we only go out for urgent shopping: food and health), with masks for everyone. The schools will also gradually restart from May 11. But hotels, restaurants, cinemas, and cultural events will remain closed. Borders remain closed too for all non-European citizens. As of today, we are at 15,000 dead and 6800 people in intensive care.” - Michel Caza, Michel Caza Consulting, and former president, FESPA, Champagne-sur-Oise, France

And, we’ve run out of space. We have more reports coming in from other printers in the US, Mexico, and other countries. Check back on screenweb.com/shoptalk to get the full-length interviews, photos, and my comments.

UPDATES

Come Together: "Nick Danger"

Come Together: Edward Cook

Andy MacDougall is a screen printing trainer and consultant based on Vancouver Island in Canada, and a member of the Academy of Screen & Digital Printing Technology. If you have production problems you’d like to see him address in “Shop Talk,” email your comments and questions to andy@squeegeeville.com.

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