Screen printing is the act of pushing a variety of inks through a stencil and ink-blocking mesh to create unique designs, logos, and messaging on canvas, posters, and (most commonly) t-shirts and other apparel. The individuals who operate the printing tools and machinery are screen printers. Their job combines artistic ability, an eye for graphic design, and an ability to follow and execute the printing needs of customers.
One of the benefits of using screen printing is that it allows the printers and clients a fairly simple way to mass-produce shirt or poster designs that feature the same graphics or words. The customer brings the job to the screen printer, who may have to help the client with designing how the job will look. The client decides how many colors to use and how they will be used, and then the screen printer uses the printing machinery (and maybe a design computer) to create a prototype. When the prototype is approved by the client, the printer then simply creates however many copies of the apparel or posters the client has specified. The process of forcing the inks through the mesh created by the screen printer for each individual job must be closely monitored to ensure consistency of the print work from one article to the next.
To work as a screen printer, a person likely needs some education and experience involving artwork or graphic design, even at the high school level. Many screen printers begin by assisting an experienced printer and learn the tools of the trade this way, although some community colleges offer coursework in it as well. Screen printers tend to work in a print shop environment, usually during regular business hours.
Screen Printer Tasks
Adjust machinery for optimum speed, registry and print quality.
Repair, maintain and store production tooling and fixtures.
Run, adjust and troubleshoot production equipment and machinery.
Recommend tooling and material handling changes to improve work flow or safety conditions.
Check production equipment to ensure proper machine set up, registration, ink viscosity and color.