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‘When I’m Sixty Four’: Screen Printing Wisdom

(February/March 2017) posted on Mon Apr 03, 2017

Decades of screen printing has taught Andy MacDougall at least one thing: We're a crazy bunch.

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By Andy MacDougall

It’s 2017. Let that roll around in your brain pan for a minute. In a few months, I turn into the lyrics of a Beatles song:

• I checked with my wife. Yes, she will send a valentine, and me to her. I pulled a fast one years back and married her on Valentine’s Day. No way to forget our anniversary, and being a cheap son of the tartan, the flowers and cards all do double duty.
• I stay out till quarter to 3, just not as often as I used to, and she still lets me in. She feeds me, she needs me – all is good there.
• We have grandchildren, although if Josh sat on my knee it would collapse – the kid is pushing 6 feet. Then he would pick me up. I’m only half kidding when I tell him he’ll be pushing me around in a wheelbarrow in the future.
• And my wife, she’s out there in the garden digging the weeds, just like the song says.

When that little ditty came out, I had no idea what screen printing was. Now I’ve been doing it more than half my life, and the reality is that I still don’t. I’ve got some ideas. I’ve learned the basic concepts, but when I go to a tradeshow and look around, talk to other printers and technicians, and see the machines being used, I realize how far I still have to go. I don’t think I will ever know it all, although I keep trying. The concept is simple: Put a stencil on some mesh. Slap some ink on. Squish it through the stencil with a flexible blade. I show 5-year-olds how to do it all the time.

The reality is, and this is the one thing I know I have learned in my soon-to-be 64 years: This process will trip you up and spit you out if you underestimate it. It makes people who are normally friendly, rational, and peaceful lose their hair, cry out with words not suitable for Screen Printing magazine, throw dripping squeegees across rooms, kick holes in screens, and attack inanimate objects (presses, computers, printers, stacks of paper, cans of ink). I’ve done all these things. It’s never solved a problem.


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