Steve Woods of Arcade Screen Printing talks about starting the Arcade Print Club, the first Screen Print Social Club in Australia and how it came into being.
The first I really heard of the concept was talking to a friend of mine, Nick Gower from ‘Mentally Friendly’. Mentally Friendly is a very contemporary Gen Y specific Design Agency in Sydney. He’d recently returned from London where they have a base and was full of praise for the ‘London Print Club’.
It seemed like a recipe we’d been looking for as we had this burgeoning tribe of people responding to almost anything we could do that would involve them in seeing live print.
We first started ‘Arcade Screen Printing’ really as an outlet for ourselves to do more street orientated art as a respite from high end fashions and furnishings through our original business ‘Screenhaus’. The eye opening moment came when we hosted ‘The Great Arcade T-Shirt Party’ as our opening stanza which really played into the hands of the hungry masses of design savvy individuals that were more and more looking to creative outlets as both entertainment and as part of this new hand delivered aesthetic style they wanted to actively participate in.
After that party we started booking classes, creating an endless stream of people wanting to actualise their newly acquired print skills. This actualisation needed a physical space, practical print equipment and a structure to handle the desires and learning curves of the newly blooded print enthusiasts.
I think we had the attitude in spades and were printing commercially so our lessons were very real as opposed to many hobby style classes out there. The strategy that really made the whole thing work was teaching one colour classes with the emphasis on mastering this before moving to multi-colour work. This resulted in us being able to teach loads of new people basic skills without limiting their design idea, be it vector, hand drawn or photographic, T-shirt or poster and producing very good results in their first class.
Having completed this class was their qualification to get into Print Club.
We also teach 100% waterbased inks which makes it very practical and user friendly to take home and expand on their kitchen table late at night without the need for harsher chemicals in the house around kids or pets while expanding their ideas and mini enterprises as a direct parallel to Print Club conditions. So Print Club members will come in with their latest challenges and talk and work on things together and also draw on our instructors for continuous learning. We’ve hosted two very successful Print Club Markets where everything is hand printed by members and there are literally crews that are teaming up and taking local market stalls and starting online businesses. It’s not unusual to find them in numbers at many markets and not just in Sydney.
With our classes constantly booked out we are expanding class capabilities with the group, expanding into Photoshop and Illustrator classes for multi colour and CMYK prints and Illustration and Design for Print so people are genuinely expanding skills with industry qualified and experienced teachers.
Having hosted talks and social print events it only makes sense now to further expand a more advanced class offering and consolidate the use of the space with practicing printers.
It’s almost like our little slice of the wider hand skill authenticity seeking Rennaisance where we get to spur a new sector of home based and Start-Up print enterprises where historically Tafe and other institutions classes and offerings are shifting we just might find that gap –
– or join that club.
Steve Woods is author of the web based book available on Amazon –
’10Steps to Waterbased Screen Printing at Home’ Professional Prints for Start-Up Enterprises.