August '21

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G R A P H I C S - P R O. C O M 2 0 2 1 A U G U S T G R A P H I C S P R O 1 5 "As I got better both at designing for screen printing and the printmaking itself, the jobs were getting bigger and printing by hand was taking a physi- cal toll, not to mention some deadlines were impossible." Baker bought a press, and soon he was producing prints for other artists as well. Baker expanded judiciously, deter- mined to remain involved in every aspect of the business even as he as- sembled a first-rate backing band. Now he is playing on a national stage. "For the most part, my clients have found me. For the lion's share of my career, it's been reputation and portfolio." THE ARTISAN TOUCH Baker Prints occupies a narrow but lucrative niche in the screen-printing world, turning out top-quality finely detailed graphics using semi-automatic equipment. "For the vast majority of our work, we print semi-auto on clam- shells. Occasionally, we'll print by hand, sometimes for split-fountains on smaller runs and also random odd jobs such as printing on irregular substrates," says Baker. Most artisan screen printers working in graphics are hand printing short runs. And of course Baker himself started out that way, earning his stripes with his hands on a squeegee. "But for most of our work printing manually doesn't make a lick of sense," he notes. "We can produce a much better product much faster on press, though of course some art would look exactly the same either way." Today with the major production and Fortune 500 companies among his clients, he relishes the precision and consistency that technology allows him to bring to his craft. "For example, we print most halftones at 80 LPI. Doing CMYK at 24" X 36" at that frequency would be pretty much im- possible for a human to do repeatedly. We need mechanical control over angle, pres- sure, register, dot gain … a stiff breeze will change solid density when you're printing 80-line on 380 mesh with a razor-sharp 40" squeegee." Baker stresses that in order to take full ad- vantage of the benefits of automatic screen- printing equipment, old-school discipline and attention to detail remain paramount. He and his crew work together to solve is- sues that may arise in the course of a job in an empirical, methodical manner, what he describes as the "heuristic" approach. PANDEMIC PAINS Baker has had little time to rest over the years as he scrambled to keep up with orders, Baker's first screen-printing press was an AWT Accu-Print High-Tech Micro, and he still uses it to this day. (Image courtesy AWT World Trade Group) continued on page 94

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