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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey guys,
I am trying to streamline my screen printing education as much as possible. I have found it tough to get my hands on good resources for screen printing knowledge. I learn best by doing.

I sat down last night and made a hiearchy of the best resources to learn from.

At the top of the list is being apprentice to an industry big wig or talented screen printer. I am looking for education not only on production but on matters of business as well. I am so fresh to this industry however that I don't even know who to begin contact. I would prefer they are from Portland Oregon, and there's a chance they are since we are the second most saturated screen printing market in the US.

The big names I have gotten to meet with face to face so far are Ryan of Ryonet and Charlie Facini of seperation studio. Both are great guys by the way.

These are my main questions
1) Does anybody have any ideas about who to contact about becoming their apprentice in Portland Oregon
2) How would I approach them
3) Do screen printers tend to keep there more advanced techniques proprietary or are the pretty open to collaboration?

Really appreciate all your guys help! Have learned a lot here at the T-Shirt forums Thanks!
 

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Jennings is a big name out of Texas I think.

Since you're in Oregon, I was going to suggest Ryonet. However, the easiest was to get going is by watching YouTube Videos and reading this forum. Also get Screen Printing for Fun and Profit.

If you learn better by doing, take some classes from Ryonet or other screen printing companies that teach.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks a lot Selanac. What you outlined is exactly what I have done thus far. I took both the advanced course and the intermediate course at ryonet. Pretty fun stuff and pretty lucky they are so close.
 

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Hey guys,
These are my main questions
1) Does anybody have any ideas about who to contact about becoming their apprentice in Portland Oregon
2) How would I approach them
3) Do screen printers tend to keep there more advanced techniques proprietary or are the pretty open to collaboration?

Really appreciate all your guys help! Have learned a lot here at the T-Shirt forums Thanks!
#1. No as I am way down in Texas but I know printers all over the place so I will see if I know any near you and report back if I do.

#2. Depends. If they are close to where you are planning on opening your own business they may be reluctant to take you under their wing. In this case you just approach them as if you where job hunting and keep your mouth shut about your real intensions. The best thing is to find someone a little ways away from you and see if they will show you the ropes for a few days in exchange for a few days of free labor. You also want to find someone who can be a mentor and will help via email and the phone when you get stumped
on something.

#3. Some openly share and some don't. If you where close to me you could come and hang out for as long as you like and I would show you everything I know plus some. My way of looking at it is you are going to get in the biz anyway so it is better to get you started right then have you go at it blind and start low-balling to get work.

Good luck and let me know if there is anything I can answer for you.
 

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yeah, that's the thing: though i have tons and tons and tons to learn, still, i'm not going to train my competition how best to make it harder for me to pay my bills, lol. that said, there are probably a lot of one-man printers out there that would love to have the free labour and may think what's one more drop in a sea of ink slingers?

youtube videos are great to give you an idea, but most of them don't go into enough detail to actual learn anything from, and some are just sales pitches that makes everything look oh-so-easy. like if you watched any number of screen printers bang out awesome prints using a four colour process, you would think, man, that's simple! what they're not telling you is the $500 programme they use to do separations, the angle of the screens, the mesh count, the this and that goes into the actual craft.

if you have access to a community college, they may have some classes. if you're like me, though, that stuff goes just too slow. going slow may be good for a business class, but, man, show me how to screen print some stuff and let me go at it! :)

another good education outlet are the trade shows which always have workshops and seminars. typically, you can buy a 'bundle' package that allows you do choose any of the classes (some have a limit of classes you're allowed to take) for around $175 (going off the ISS and NBM prices here). the wife recently took several classes and she learned a *lot*, particularly in the photoshop class since she's otherwise self-taught.

so, were i you i would hit up some real small shops first as, imo, they're the ones most likely willing to be receptive. the larger shops probably expect some degree of knowledge and experience towards a hiring situation, not just teaching some random dude they don't know from adam how to be a good hobbyist working out of his garage and undercutting the lot of them. too, some places have the computer guys do the artwork and the printers do the physical part, so it's asking a lot to be trained on the designer end when those guys often went to college and make half-way decent money. the labour part is something i really wouldn't want to pay someone more than $10/hr. to do, really not even that much unless they had some really good skillz.
 

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Have to disagree RB. Big shops will take you on if you want to learn. They'll even give you a small wage. You have to start at the bottom, and will probably start by Cleaning screens.

Stay a couple of years and you'll learn quite a bit.

Also, most employee's make a huge mistake. They start doing things on the side. Instead, ask the owner if they give Profit Sharing. If you bring in some customers, they give you a small percentage. Then call and email all your friends. Even buy some products from them.

Once you feel comfortable, and have enough experience break off on your own.

IMO, it would be better to just start, read some books on screen printing. It's not rocket science.

A great book to learn every aspect of screen printing is Scott Fresners book: Screen Printing for fun and profit, or something like that.

If you know how to screen print, start telling your friends. Also you can call local businesses, schools, churches, Baseball teams, etc. Also Volunteer at for local Non-profit groups. Then tell them you screen print.

Don't forget to wear your own products. Even make one with your screen printing prices.
 

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kinda like i said, a bigger shop will be more likely to show you the ropes based on your hiring potential, imo. maybe it's just me, but there's pretty much no way in hell i'd just teach some random person my entire operation from top to bottom just because they want 'education' in exchange for some menial labour. on here it's different. some potential competitor rolls into the shop and asks who my embroiderer is and it's really none of their business. don't get me wrong, i'm captain help, i'm just not going to train my competition, that would be kinda dumb.

too, there's a learning curve involved wherein you'll cost the joint a couple $ here and there. you can tell yourself that since the guy is free labour it balances out and that will make you feel better. but, i dunno, what happens a couple of weeks or a month down the line when the guy has learned your entire operation and has taken notes and picked everyone's brain, then sets up shop five blocks away and undercuts you after stealing your client, vendor and price list? is the risk worth the reward then?

you're absolutely right, too, these guys you hire are making their own stuff on the side. just a shirt here and there, not too much. you'll never know how much they're costing you. not that it's usually a big deal, but it's still something you need to keep an eye on just in case someone decides to get funny and start his own brand on your dime. :)

again you're right, this isn't rocket science. someone wants to know the process and i'm more than happy to show them. i'm not training them how to do photoshop, or where i get every supply at, or every nuanced detail of the entire process, or who every one of my clients are. i'm more than happy to show them my set-up and run through the steps if i have the time, but beyond that there are just too many other resources available to learn from other than me, who has other things to do.

then the guy stares into the UV light and then i'm really screwed because no one thought to tell him that staring into the sun was a bad idea. but, hey, i could absolutely be wrong. in fact, i'm sure that if you asked enough screen printers there's bound to be one that says okay on the spot because they all don't think like i do in terms of risk/reward and liability, just that here's some guy that can learn all this stuff easily if he wanted to, but since he's here i might as well exploit him for cheap labour (cheap because it *will* cost you money to train and the supplies he's going to screw up).

i would disagree with wearing a shirt with your prices on it. i don't really see too much benefit to that. i dunno, seems a little tacky when you could have used that space for a design....
 

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why not? if i really tried, i could bury the screen printer literally a couple of hundred yards away from me, and she's been printing for years. she doesn't do anything complicated, nor do we, but, yeah, if we targeted her and shops like hers i have no doubt some of them wouldn't stay in business long. all i have to do is virtually drop my profits to next to nothing and win through attrition since i don't have a rent or mortgage overhead.

of course, doing so would be pretty ignorant on my part. but, that's my point ~ you don't know what someone is going to do or how they're going to do it. ostensibly, if someone wants to be a screen printer, but has no idea on how to do it, doesn't it stand to reason that they probably don't know anything about business, least of the screen printing business, and may have some 'great' ideas, all of which involves low-balling every other guy in town? maybe, maybe not, who's to say?

you're *probably* right, paul. then again, why take such a risk of even slightly affecting your business in a negative way for even a second by *training the competition*? dunno, doesn't sound like something a business savvy person would jump at, that's all.

would i lose business to a rookie? hell, yes, it's possible! all they have to do is offer the 'right' price. every rookie has taken business away from *someone*, else they wouldn't make it to the next year, no? lol. with the bigger shops, yeah, you're probably not going to put much of dent in their business. that's probably what wal*mart thought before six straight quarters of posting losses, or what the big three automakers thought... no company is too big to fail (the difference is no one is going to bail us out).

we got our screen printing equipment at a bank auction. that shop was the biggest in the area as far as screen printing and awards. they were less than two miles away from our store. anyway, they had a million dollar business. shoo, they sold sports apparel with their own brand on the packages of socks. what happened? well, part of it was inventory control (or lack thereof), arrogance, and just bone-headed business practices. but, part of it was competition who, in this economy, slashed prices while their 'elite' shop was chipped away at, a little here, a little there, the business muddied down so low to the point where they *couldn't* lower their prices to stay competitive and pay their bills.

all i'm saying is that someone who plans on being a big fish in a small pond, as if that's even possible now, probably would have to really consider the implications here. if they didn't, i'd love to know when the bank is going to auction off their business equipment because i need a new flash dryer for cheap....
 

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Just because someone buys a piece of equipment and even learns how to use it doesn't mean they will or can.

This is theory, we're talking real business here. Can you sell? Do you know how to negociate?

Your neighbor might not do anything complicated, but she might have the market due to relationships.
 

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this will be our seventh year as business owners, but our first as screen printers. our core business is trophies and awards. we've outlasted our share of the competition, and now that we've paid the house/store (it's an old building) off, we don't have that overhead, so, technically, we can outprice just about anyone short of the top selling trophy/award makers in the country (and the things we can't outprice are things that we can't buy at any quantity and still come under what they sell for). so, yeah, selling and negotiating isn't an issue for us. indeed, i learned my negotiating skillz back when i used to sell toys at the flea market on the weekends (made more money doing that than working 40 hours at GM more often than not). i'd say we've earned our stripes.

the gal down the road does have an advantage. one, she's in a far better location than we are as she's on the corner of the main strip (such as it is in west carrollton, oh). she caters mostly to the high school buyer, and she's got teenagers, so she's in tight with those who would buy that product. she has the 'best' prices in town, meaning she more of less low balls herself and wonders how she's going to stay in business. she also does vinyl.

on the negative side, she, incredibly, does all her printing on a one-screen starter kit, then will complain about not having enough time to get all her orders out. the thing is, she was at the same auction we were at, we even hung out together that day, and bought a four-screen press which sits idle because she wants her hubby to do some crazy kind of work on it. her prices are what attracts people (well, that and she's really bubbly and cute), but also what keeps her working after hours to make up for the difference in prices that she could be charging.

in all, all i really have to do is wait her out. it's just her and she's overburdened and won't use the equipment she has to her best advantage. someone like her would probably jump on free labour if given the chance. and in that case it's not going to matter as she slowly slides away, she'll merely have trained her replacement who will likely do the same thing if he's not careful.

or that guy can win a couple thousand bucks on a scratch off ticket he buys at my store, turn around and buy a piece of equipment, do a little advertising and sink *us*.
 

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kinda like i said, a bigger shop will be more likely to show you the ropes based on your hiring potential, imo. maybe it's just me, but there's pretty much no way in hell i'd just teach some random person my entire operation from top to bottom just because they want 'education' in exchange for some menial labour. on here it's different. some potential competitor rolls into the shop and asks who my embroiderer is and it's really none of their business. don't get me wrong, i'm captain help, i'm just not going to train my competition, that would be kinda dumb.

too, there's a learning curve involved wherein you'll cost the joint a couple $ here and there. you can tell yourself that since the guy is free labour it balances out and that will make you feel better. but, i dunno, what happens a couple of weeks or a month down the line when the guy has learned your entire operation and has taken notes and picked everyone's brain, then sets up shop five blocks away and undercuts you after stealing your client, vendor and price list? is the risk worth the reward then?

you're absolutely right, too, these guys you hire are making their own stuff on the side. just a shirt here and there, not too much. you'll never know how much they're costing you. not that it's usually a big deal, but it's still something you need to keep an eye on just in case someone decides to get funny and start his own brand on your dime. :)

again you're right, this isn't rocket science. someone wants to know the process and i'm more than happy to show them. i'm not training them how to do photoshop, or where i get every supply at, or every nuanced detail of the entire process, or who every one of my clients are. i'm more than happy to show them my set-up and run through the steps if i have the time, but beyond that there are just too many other resources available to learn from other than me, who has other things to do.

then the guy stares into the UV light and then i'm really screwed because no one thought to tell him that staring into the sun was a bad idea. but, hey, i could absolutely be wrong. in fact, i'm sure that if you asked enough screen printers there's bound to be one that says okay on the spot because they all don't think like i do in terms of risk/reward and liability, just that here's some guy that can learn all this stuff easily if he wanted to, but since he's here i might as well exploit him for cheap labour (cheap because it *will* cost you money to train and the supplies he's going to screw up).

i would disagree with wearing a shirt with your prices on it. i don't really see too much benefit to that. i dunno, seems a little tacky when you could have used that space for a design....
If he were to teach him all he knew, yes. Big shops do'nt hire you if they know your intentions are to one day pull out and start your own shop cuz it's possibly right near them (ans you know all they know. They don't like that. I know first hand. Plenty of big name shops in my area. I can't get a job as a screen printer around here at a biog shop to learn printing as they all know me and my goals.
 

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someone approaches me offering free labour in exchange for training, basically asking if he can be my competition, and i'd have to say that on average that's probably a pretty dumb thing for a business to do. then again, if the guy asks for a job under the assumption that he's going to be working for me and i, unwittingly, *pay* him to learn how to open his own shop, he's lied by omission and in that case i *really* don't want to have to compete with a person of such low character as he's going to hamstring me every chance he gets.

the thing is, one person can cause a helluva lot of damage whether they mean to or not (this i can attest to!), so why invite the risk barring desperation?
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Ryan, I appreciate your stance and business savvy.
Selanac, I appreciate your willingness to collaborate.

I think the best resolution would perhaps be to not bring free labor but a host of other skills to the table in trade for education. I think any relationship that is not mutually beneficial eventually causes discontent. Some business owners really enjoy the ego boost of educating an apprentice so it's enough for them. Others that are more monetarily driven want to know how teaching a student will benefit them.

I'll be honest, I struggle constantly with what the the correct way to deal is. I am graphic designer and web developer as well (two more very saturated markets). I have already have issues with spending years to put together good info, resources and business practices and bestow them upon a student/employee to soon find them out on their own. Perhaps a non-compete is the way to go.

I think training someone in general is just a bad place to be in this industry given the current economic state. The start up costs are low, profits are good and like was said earlier, it's not rocket science. The hard/costly part is anticipating issues and figuring out how to conduct your business in the industry. Every design seems to have some issue and when you have to fix it on the fly that costs you time, supplies and often shirts. Really the only thing keeping a lot of unemployed people out of this already saturated market is lack of educational resources in regard to combating issues and correct business practices.

Given the debate you have had fellas I believe my plan of attack will be to try to form a relationship with someone that is more closed much like Ryan is. The benefit is that he will not only have information on printing but on business as well. My offer will be a mutually beneficial one. Teach me in trade for design, web development and consulting on system automation. At the end of the trade we are both left on a level playing field. If I can't get my hands on someone like that I will continue to do what I have been, digesting any educational resource I can stumble into.

When I have it all figured out will I train someone? Yes I will. I think there is something to be said for collaboration pushing innovation and technological innovation is the key to a better standard of living for all. In comparison to web technologies it seems the growth of technology in the screen printing world is dwarfed. Perhaps it's because of it's closed nature. I'm going to be honest, when I got involved in screen printing I was shocked that the whole process is not completely automated. Machine puts it on, prints it, pulls it off.

Anyways guys thanks for your opinions, very interesting.
 

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you can automate to a certain extent, and of course dtg is as automated as it gets on a practical level. while screen printing may not be rocket science, there's a definite craft to it the more advanced you get. i'm a basic, general purpose printer, so what some of these guys do just blows me away and really is something to strive for.

that you bring skillz with you is probably going to be more attractive to larger shops in terms of sitting you down and having you work your other training off right from the start. for a small guy, your advantage would be training *them*, as it's very possible that they could use some hints and tips.

if someone slapped a contract down with a non-competition clause in it and could convince me that they're going to do online stuff and not steal my local work... maybe... still probably not, but i'd think harder about it.... and bring your own computer, because you wouldn't be on mine that can access my files.

collaboration can be a resolution, and it can sometimes be the problem. it's a situational thing. two heads are better than one... but, too many chefs spoil the stew, lol. most of us, and this includes me, are winging this business thing as best as we can given our skillz, money and time, learning things as we go for the most part, and hoping that our brand of common sense and hard work trumps what we slept through in harvard business school. so, in that sense, i don't think you'll have too much trouble finding what you're looking for, though you may not necessarily get in where you want to be ideally. :)
 

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One of the sprinkler companies near work fired their lead installer because he was taking work on the side. Now they have no lead installer, instead they have an independent contractor/work-for-hire guy... who takes work on the side.

Granted they know that the contractor is taking work on the side while their original employee was lying... they're still losing customers over it and they've lost their best installer. If I was the owner I'm not sure how I would have handled that one but I definitely wouldn't have done the second half of it.
 

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Hey guys,
I am trying to streamline my screen printing education as much as possible. I have found it tough to get my hands on good resources for screen printing knowledge. I learn best by doing.

I sat down last night and made a hiearchy of the best resources to learn from.

At the top of the list is being apprentice to an industry big wig or talented screen printer. I am looking for education not only on production but on matters of business as well. I am so fresh to this industry however that I don't even know who to begin contact. I would prefer they are from Portland Oregon, and there's a chance they are since we are the second most saturated screen printing market in the US.

The big names I have gotten to meet with face to face so far are Ryan of Ryonet and Charlie Facini of seperation studio. Both are great guys by the way.

These are my main questions
1) Does anybody have any ideas about who to contact about becoming their apprentice in Portland Oregon
2) How would I approach them
3) Do screen printers tend to keep there more advanced techniques proprietary or are the pretty open to collaboration?

Really appreciate all your guys help! Have learned a lot here at the T-Shirt forums Thanks!

If you are willing to move to Cleveland, I would be interested in talking to you. We are always looking for smart ppl willing to work hard. We could set you up to run the press for a couple of years and teach you quite a bit. And as far as the competition, we are also looking to start expanding into different locations, so we could just work something out on opening a shop in Portland and having you run it. This way all the training would not be working against us. Under right circumstances, it would be possible to become a partner in a company. Now this is a very, very long shot, but for a right person it is very doable.

And just to put things back into perspective, if you really wanted to do what you are saying, it would be an insane amount of work and headache. I worked 100+ hours per week for months on while getting started. Not saying it's what it would take now, but the right person would be somebody understanding that it would take 80hours/week to get a new shop off the ground. It would be somebody who would stay at the shop (while in training) after their 40 paid hours and hang around to learn, test, experiment, research and so on. And that would not be just for the first two months, but for the long run.

Learning both the business and printing and taking up to a high level is not easy. You have to be an expert at two things. Most ppl are unable to be an expert at one. The secret really is in how badly do you want it. You can learn both here form somebody who is willing to share. . .

So there you go, the opportunity you asked for. How badly do you want it?

pierre
 

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yes, paul, i've learned a lot from everyone, and i hope that i've given back as much as i've taken. that's on a message board, not people asking me how to do my job so they can do it, too, across the railroad tracks and take work away. besides, i can tell someone how something is done, but i can't do it for them or make them understand. someone in arizona is hardly going to take business away from me, anyway, so the risk is zero. what we're talking about here is training your direct competition, the guy vying for the same slice of the pizza in the exact same market.

there's a guy around the corner that has a laser engraver. he runs a small shop doing mostly gift items. nice guy, actually, at least on the phone. i've referred many people to him, he's referred a few to me. i'd love to have one for our awards business. and one day i will.

when i do get one, i can't go up to him and ask him for training. he would already be afraid that i would put him out of business, and rightly so. i have little overhead and could outprice him in every way. that's not to say that i would actively try to smash his business, but i could if i was that kind of person. he doesn't really know what kind of person i am, though, and for him to train me would be the height of stupidity.

granted, that's not exactly the same situation, per se, but it's close enough, imo, to be appropriate to mention....
 
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