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Shop Talk: Masters of Disaster

(December/January 2018) posted on Thu Feb 07, 2019

Through skill, determination, and sometimes luck, screen printers have a knack for making the impossible possible.

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By Andy MacDougall

Sometimes, all we can do is shake our heads, get back up, and keep moving forward. Life seems a bit like an out-of-control pitching machine: Even though we’ve dropped the bat, it keeps hurling strikes. Elsewhere in this issue, more learned people than myself are giving us a glimpse into the future to help you with your strategic plans, but here we’ll stick with daily chaos. A rip in the space-time continuum seems to run right through Shop Talk, and I’m guessing through all five loyal readers’ businesses as well.

As long as I’ve been in this game – as an employee, boss, and interested observer – it seems day-to-day activities and unplanned interruptions conspire with the universe to derail our plans. What I’ve noticed is the true believers amongst us – those five readers, and probably most others in this crazy specialty printing industry – somehow have developed a skill set that is equal parts blind faith, dumb luck, and a steely eyed resolve and aversion to panic that allows us to progress one day – or catastrophe – at a time. In a business that is an unrelenting wave of deadlines and dropped balls, we have evolved into masters of disaster. Things that would stop a normal person tend to deflect off screen printers.

Carlo Vivary, a designer and poster artist from Leipzig, Germany, decided to attend a poster exhibition in Mexico City in November. He purchased a ticket and gave himself a few days to travel and settle into the urban zoo that is Mexico City, a place originally built on islands in a lake by the Aztecs that now has a population larger than many countries. After arriving at the airport in Germany and presenting his passport, it was seized – it had been reported stolen, even though he had never lost it! 

The police said it was unfair, but rules were rules. Carlo rushed back home and the next day had secured a temporary passport, then found a second flight via Cancun that would get him to Mexico City in time. It required a five-hour train trip to another city in Germany, but he made the flight.  


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