Sensory Overload – Training in Today’s World of Garment Printing by Terry Combs

With a Flip camera or a free blog space, everybody is seems to now be an expert on screen printing, business, and any other subject you might imagine under the sun. But does easy access and what seems to be a never ending stream of information translate to better information.

First, let me confess my own bias and motives. Yes, I do paid training and consulting in this industry. I write articles. I speak at shows. I advise people over the phone, in their shops, on the floor of tradeshows around the world. It’s how I make my living, and it’s based on 30+ years pulling a squeegee, managing people, and being immersed in this industry.

Second, let me offer my concern. Much of the free screen printing information on YouTube and in the forums and the blogs is based on opinion and a limited, sheltered experience. I am a huge proponent of sharing ideas, but we all need to be aware of the context in which these ideas, this information, is given.

I’ll give you an example. Recently, a new industry participant asked on a forum, “What program do most people use to do their artwork?” I responded and talked about the different options, and then explained that the majority of screen printers start out with CorelDraw. Another respondent jumped in to correct my answer saying Adobe Illustrator is the program of choice in the industry.

That’s all well and good that this person likes and uses Illustrator. I like it too. But the question was, “What do most screen printers use?” My answer was based on the hundreds upon hundreds of screen printers I talk with every year. My answer was based on the fact that CorelDraw training DVDs sell easily 100 to 1 over Illustrator training DVDs. Probably more like 500 to 1. That says to me, more people use Corel and it is clearly the program of choice, which was the simple question the new printer asked.

Does it matter if this new printer chooses to use Illustrator over Corel? Not really. Either program will do the trick, but the point is: Free “expert” advice often falls into the category of, “You get what you pay for.” I have to admit I cringe sometimes when I see the advice being offered. It’s hard enough learning from our own mistakes, without compounding the situation with questionable and sometimes just erroneous information.

My simple advice? Take advantage of any opportunity to learn new things and new techniques, free or otherwise. But in this world of sensory overload of information, take that advice with the proverbial “grain of salt”.

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Terry Combs is a 30+ year veteran of the garment decorating industry, offering training and consulting through his website TerryCombs.com. Terry is also editor of the management and production newsletter Screen Print Weekly.

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