Leaders in the field reveal what they think about the challenges ahead for the industry.
“Interest in screen printing continues to be strong. So we service people trying to learn and grow, be it some kid in the basement printing rock posters or T-shirts, or a scientist commercializing a new fuel cell concept. As far as actual printing, we hardly do any typical commercial work anymore, and concentrate on fine art printing. Why print for pennies when you can make things that are worth much more? And don’t get thrown out because the sale is over. The industry should recognize there are probably more low-tech fine art and craft printers now than ever before. They keep a lot of the hand methods alive. In that group, the switch to water- based from solvent-based inks is the main movement,” MacDougall says.
AAA Flag & Banner
Not everyone we contacted was optimistic about the future of screen printing. Craig Furst, president of AAA Flag & Banner in Los Angeles, is especially bearish on its prospects.
“AAA believes the screen printing industry is in jeopardy and will continue to erode with the advent of faster digital equipment, larger offset presses, and the demand of individualized and more targeted advertising,” he says.
Furst points to the digital takeover of short-run printing and believes that longer-run printing is headed in the same direction. His advice for those
in his line of work is to embrace digital options or face extinction.
Future Generations of Printers
Lincoln Land Community College recently added a certificate program for students seeking a career in screen printing. The 24-credit program includes courses in both graphic design, and screen printing production and pre-production. The school has assembled a fully-equipped print shop on campus and in additional to the products produced for classroom assignments, they will provide T-shirts and posters for school-related clubs and events.
“It’s basically a work/study program. You can learn a skill that can take you anywhere in the country,” says Thom Whalen, professor of art at the school.
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