> Tom Tom – Happy new technology?

I’ve got an XL Tom Tom, a five mega pixel camera and an Ipod; I put a sleek black Samsung next to them on the desk and engage Bluetooth – that should impress them. The door opens and three young men who I suspect live with their mothers, read horror novels and have a shampoo allergy shuffle silently in; they are here to talk to me about spiders, of the Google variety. As they begin mumbling into their bum fluff about string queries while staring at their Clark’s, I find that all I can hear is the server’s incessant dirge, punctuated by the occasional ping pong of an email as it falls onto my virtual doormat……and in my coat pocket I feel the presence, of a Blackberry.

It’s all progress of course, but when I’ve gone a bit heavy on the crème de menthe I’m occasionally visited by my old friend Ben Kenobi who reminds me, ‘You’re more machine than man now’; and when I wake at 4 am to see the kettle spinning around on the record deck I think, it’s inevitable isn’t it, you can’t hide from the future?

Face Space, My Book and Grebo….complete strangers email me and ask if they can be my friend. I’m English and polite and so naturally I say ‘Yes of course old chap, I mean dude, lovely to hear from you’. They then reply asking who the f*** I am and telling me to clear off their friends section. I want to write back and tell them I’d rather drop my undercarriage into a jar of African killer bees than be part of their social network but I can’t, because I’m English, and polite, and so I apologise.

I’m told it’s inevitable that I will blog every move of my fascinating life – I noticed some clown on a t-shirt site recently describing a particularly interesting cloud formation he’d just seen. In the same way is it inevitable I wonder, that we turn to digital print?

The advantages are obvious I guess. No messy inks mean no plastisol on the mother in law’s new Axminster – no bad thing when your mother in law’s got a pierced nipple and has lost all her front teeth to pork scratchings (no offence Doreen). And as for digital print quality, you can pick out the hairs on a gnats todger in glorious Technicolor without a single screen, so no carry on with the old four colour process inks, no set-up costs, BINGO! And onto black garments I’m told.

It’s also easy to operate – apparently even embroiderers can work the kit. This is a huge advantage in the modern labour market. As we all know the ability to read, write, spell and do basic maths are now optional extras for most school leavers….and yet strangely they all emerge with 50 GCSE’s and a bucket of A levels; presumably some of these are in knuckle scraping and gurning. Off the subject slightly – Me? Never! But if you’re ever feeling a touch under par just advertise for a fictional job vacancy – I had a candidate recently inform me that he was suitable for screen printing because in a previous job at the abattoir, he’d been in charge of burning off pig hair. Pretty sure if I‘d been doing that for seven years I’d keep it fairly quiet.

So you don’t need to train a young Paduan screen printer for five years before they’re ready to take the trials…which not all will survive – you just put young Trevor in front of the digital printer and tell him to shout you if it catches fire.

And the digi-bonuses continue – the equipment doesn’t take up much space; it doesn’t fill the room with smoke; I guess it’s eco friendly (?); you’re not standing up spinning a carousel all day until you feet look like a pair of Quavers; and the blow dried salesman in comedy socks informs me that production times are just getting faster and faster. It’s a ‘no brainer’ they say – put that squeegee down and call your first child Epson!

But you know what Mr Stephenson, head of the Luddite Print Company is going to say don’t you? And it’s predictable isn’t it, because I still listen to Muddy Waters, Sonny Terry and blokes whose first names are Blind or Howlin’ (what were their mother’s thinking?) I’m going to take the stairs and not the elevator, use the map and not the sat nav, I might even write someone a letter one day soon, in ink, and I’m not going digital just yet. There’s a reason, maybe not a great reason, but here’s the thing.

Don’t digital prints pretty much all look the same? Now I know we go to some stupid lengths at my place to try and do different stuff. This culminated recently in a bunch of screen printers standing in a field shooting sweatshirts with 12 bore shotguns – well how else to you get an irregular distress in a thick fleece? For any loons interested enough to know we reckon the optimum distance is 12 feet – any closer looks like a post office raid gone wrong. Do not attempt without a licence and permission of the land owner though; although consenting the farmer in our case viewed us with the kind of suspicion I imagine he usually reserves for gay communists.

This excursion was not helped a few days later by the lads at work catching me distressing individual water based prints with sand paper – but this plot loss aside, go digital and I’ve got no expanding bases, no discharge, no suede effect, no high builds, no sprinkled glitters, and what about pressure distressed water based, you know where you just feel that wood in the palm of your hand, press a bit harder and then ooooh just ease off there a touch tiger and lift the screen and yes, oh yes indeed ladies and gentlemen, that print looks a hundred years old – in short, It’s printing Jim, but not as we know it.

t shirt printing, screen printing, embroidery