Interview by Jonathan Monaco of Catspit Productions, LLC, http://catspitproductionsllc.com, for Michelle Licudine at: http://www.flightsofancy.biz. Questions by Michelle Licudine.
How long have you been screen printing?
Screen printing has been in my family ever since I was born. My father has been involved in the sales of equipment and supplies for a very long time. As a result the act of screen printing has been a part of that as well, especially with the people around him. When they hear what he does for a living, they often ask how they can get started printing. I printed my first tee shirts with my uncle in the basement of my home when I was only 11 years old. He built a wooden table top press and printed his own line drawings of animals in black ink on lighter colored shirts. I helped my brother while I was in high school to build a screen printing shop. He still runs his shop today in upstate New York. He taught me much of what I know about screen printing. The bottom line is I have been involved with screen printing for about 28 years. And textile screen printing is my forte.
Tell us about your business and educational videos.
I am a commercial, textile screen printer in Chandler, Arizona. I mostly print tee shirts and other garments for small organizations or businesses. Catspit Productions sells equipment and supplies as well but to a lesser extent. I am also available for training and/or shop set ups. I really love to teach and that is why I started the YouTube channel doing “how to” videos about screen printing. The response was pretty strong and I realized there was a demand for a website like the one I am currently building and creating. So, the website actually came about 2 or 3 months after the YouTube channel and I am building the entire website and its content by myself. It is a very simple, no thrills website but it contains some great information. There has been such a positive response to the educational videos and the website that I hope to create a facility and teach a screen printing class here in the Phoenix area some day.
What do you enjoy about screen printing?
The thing I love most about screen printing is that the process is so versatile. If you use the correct ink you can screen print on almost anything. You can even use the same screen to print a variety of substrates with different inks. It is also a pretty simple stenciling method; even a paper stencil can be used with an open mesh screen. Another aspect of commercially screen printing garments is the satisfaction I get in delivering a great product. People love tee shirts and other printed garments but most don’t necessarily understand how they are made. So when they see the finished product, the response from people can be gratifying, especially when they are participants in the designing stages. Producing a high quality product with my own hands that the customer values, is very pleasing to me.
What type of ink is used most in your screen printing?
Since I screen print on tee shirts and other garments made mostly of cotton or polyester cotton blends, I use plastisol inks. Plastisol inks are versatile and easy to use. They can produce a variety of effects while giving vibrant, durable colors. The biggest drawback to plastisol inks is the need for an “oven” or “dryer” to cure the ink. Plastisol ink will never thoroughly cure or “dry” if it is not heated to about 320 degrees Fahrenheit. Plastisol inks can last a very long time if stored properly as well. Therefore, waste ink can be drastically reduced. Today, there are ecologically friendly plastisol inks available that may meet environmental regulations as well as some consumer protection laws depending on your location.
What advice do you have for people just beginning to screen print?
The best advice I can give for beginners is “eliminate all variables”. Screen printing is first a technical process and secondly an art or skill. If you use a loosely stretched screen that is flexible at the corners, you will experience a much more difficult time in achieving a satisfactory print. So, whenever possible, it is always a good idea to spend the extra money and get the proper equipment and tools for your application. And that brings us to the other piece of advice I would give to someone starting out in screen printing. Do your research about what you are attempting to accomplish. The decisions you make in purchasing tools and equipment should be directly related to your end goals. You have to consider very seriously what you want to achieve and spend your money wisely based on that. Try not to make purchase decisions based solely on financial considerations. Screen printing commercially is a numbers game. The faster you can print a high quality product, the more money you can make per hour. That also means you can be more competitive as well and get more work. Having the right tools and good working equipment will help save time, agony and money in the long run.