“If you’re taking on a new screen printer, what are the key skills they need to learn in order to be able to become a trusted ink slinger?”

The most difficult part of our job is understanding the squishy things – ie people!

Staff are probably your biggest investment, they are also your biggest risk. You must put complete faith in the decision you made to offer paid employment to that hopeful, doe-eyed young soul who appeared at your door insisting that printing T-shirts was their life’s dream.

I often give the advice that it is easier to make a new printer than buy one. Meaning that your new employee doesn’t need any prior experience in order to start throwing ink around and classing it as a profession.

Look out for…

The main ingredients to make a future ink-slinging screen demon are:

■ Eagerness to learn
■ Common sense (is this still a thing?)
■ Good eyesight
■ Fit and healthy
■ Can count to ten (unaided)
■ No new clothes in the wardrobe
■ No social life commitments
■ Gets excited by dots, feel, reg and dislikes the word ‘digital’

The fundamentals

The main things I try to teach a new recruit to this dark art we call garment decoration are based around the fundamentals that control the deposit of ink on a substrate.

Mesh, blade, speed, pressure and angle are the main protagonists in this screen print saga. Learning to control these fundamentals will turn that eager young hopeful into a tattooed, hat-wearing, ink-stained, low-slung-jeans-wearing warrior of the serigraphic industry.

Of course, it takes a while until they pick up enough skills to be able to wear that flat-billed cap backwards with anything approaching ‘style’, but patience will win out…

…Read Tony’s full advice on hiring a new screen printer in our November issue here

Tony Palmer

Tony Palmer has been in the garment decoration industry for over 30 years and is now an independent print consultant working closely with print shops across the globe to get the most from existing processes and techniques. He also co-hosts the popular screen printing podcast Chippy Tee! with Danny Donald of Flippin Sweet Print Co.