30 years and still printing

By Dave Roper, managing director, Screen Print World

A long long time ago in a distant galaxy a very fresh faced young Dave Roper left school and didn’t really know what to do? Still no surprise then today as I still no know what I want to do! Anyway, not wanting to go into the forces or a traditional trade I fancied something different with a bit of an edge.

Dave Roper pictured in 2007 at Printwear & Promotion LIVE!

I opted for the latest new government scheme called YTS. Work for four days and then mess around in college for one day all for the eye watering sum of £25 a week!

I had to report to the collage to see what my job options were… I had been given the wrong date and turned up a day late, so it was slim picking for my career choice. I had been good at art and liked photography and they had one place left on the Photography, Design and Printing course, but my work experience would be in printing only, and so it began back in the summer of ‘85.

Rock and roll

I started screen printing on the classic Swedish machine called Svecia, printing new carpet booklets for the local industry which to be fair was mind numbingly boring. Then I moved onto, if there is a such a thing in this industry as the ‘rock and roll’ side of screen printing… T shirts.

A local company in the late eighties had just bought a fancy new auto T shirt printing machine from the USA a company called Advance who are still with us today. Back in the day you had two choices in style of garment T shirt or sweatshirt and to be honest it was all very seasonal, with most the winter spent cleaning equipment and maintaining the building for the busy spring/ summer and fresh run of T shirts.

How things advanced

Just look how things have advanced in this industry. Today you can get any garment with your design printed onto it for under £20 and as many colours as you like and million shades and styles of garment. Back in the day I remember a grumpy old sales guy called Bob who used to ‘get off’ on telling customers that he wouldn’t turn the machine on for less than 500 garments… oh how times have changed.

Back then your options for garment decoration were limited it was either screen print or embroidery. Two choices, that’s your lot. Today we have several ways of placing an image onto a garment, and while we are on the subject of garments, they have driven change in this industry as much as anything else. Today, the choice of garments that you can embellish with a print is staggering.

The biggest change

But make no mistake the biggest change has been the internet. No more brochures, no more colour cards, no showrooms and no bad salesmen. Everything is online. The internet gave people massive choices and then with YouTube, it has taught them how to do it… well sort of .

Dave Roper hosting a session in the Screen Print Workshop at Printwear &Promotion LIVE! 2020

So how have things changed in the last 30 to 40 years? Well, you get more choices than ever on an individual scale that’s never been heard of and then throw in next day delivery for good measure… poor old Bob the world’s grumpiest salesman would be rolling in his grave at such Tom Foolery.

I would like to congratulate P&P on 30 years in the industry. I have enjoyed working with them on the many shows we have done together and through their excellent publication, which has become to the go-to source for many in the garment industry. Let’s look forward to the next 30 years.

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