When I was a child and my father would say to me "there's something seriously lacking in your education" I knew this meant I was going to get a serious reprimand. My memory was going to be reinforced so what I did wrong I would never, ever do again. The operative statement was always "you should have known better!" and I grew up certain that if I "didn't know better" there was something "seriously lacking in my education" and I'd better watch out!
I mention this story not to imply that I think education and corporal punishment go together. I just put it out there as a tidbit, a little something for you to consider as you think about what I am going to discuss with you today.
I invented my printing process in 1984. This began a long process of learning. I learned how to prosecute patents and design what was then called solid state electronics; then pneumatic circuits. I learned about negotiating licenses, Initial Public Offerings and deposing to SEC investigators. I learned about sourcing, CAD-CAM and assembly engineering and about trade shows and press packages. I learned about ink chemistry, multi-cavity molding and silicone composits and photopolymers. I learned all this by doing.
Before 1984 I had been a calligrapher, a graphic designer and a teacher. For ten years I didn't do any of thes things. The people I involved myself with were machinists, chemists, engineers and attorneys. By 1994 I was more than ready to return to the world of teaching and art. When the Woodstock Festival was held in my town I sat out on a plan to do just that.
One of the interesting things about my technology is that more than one color can be printed at the same time with it. This had never been applied in production and the tie-dye, psychodelic theme of the Woodstock Festival presented the perfect opportunity. In the end we printed over 55,000 copies of the event logo on aluminum dog tags. The display I have here has 148 of the over 200 separate color editions. Each edition averaged 250 prints.
My full plan in doing this multi-color project for the Woodstock Festival was to use this production opportunity to refine a small crafts-oriented model of my printer. Out of five prototypes I beta tested one proved to be the best for studio applications. I'm going to pass around the three components of the final system so you can get a feel for how sturdy and very simple in construction they are. One is the master controller and the other two are used to manufacture photoscreens and to print. These are what came out of the project.
After having a working design I then set out to find a way to link the world of this printer to the contemporary world of computer art. Before and during the Woodstock Festival I was generating all my art by hand and process camera. After the Woodstock Festival I found the time to get to know CorelDraw on a 486 with a 600dpi laser printer and tons of clipart on CD-ROM. This was great fun! I could pretend I wasn't the trained artist with multiple disciplines I am and experiment with the graphic capabilities of computer art as a novice.
I had been looking forward to this opportunity. In 1992 I had introduced a pad offset version of my printer for industrial marking. To keep costs low I developed emulsions sensitive enough to use copier transparancies as film for screenmaking. Being able to go direct from the computer to the film using a laser printer was a logical next step.
Now there is something that I would like you to understand about me. I'm partial to the vector side of graphics. Your experience may be largely in the raster or "paint' side of graphics. Everything you will see here is directly related to type and line art. There may be a little texture or tone thrown in from time to time but, in the main, these images are all scalable, geometry-based images.
I"m passing out now two promotional sheets for products printed using images from the clip art that comes packaged with CorelDraw. There were over 10,000 vector images on disk 1 of CorelDraw5. The images I have used here are all copyright free, public domain graphics mainly developed and distributed by the U.S. government. Most of what you see was initially different and changed within CorelDraw by adding type or in some other way combining them with other images to create a theme.
Next I will pass out some of the actual printed samples. I've linked these all on a keychain for convenience. They are normally packaged individually with a 24" neckchain to sell anywhere from $4 to $6 each. Also on the rack I have beside me are another thirty or so printed examples of images taken from CorelDraw clipart. These were all produced to appeal to young people and include yin-yangs, angels, pandas planet earth's and other themes to which a liberal amount of color has been added.
Now that you've seen all of these, what I want to stress is that each costs no more than a quarter to produce, some of them were printed by my daughter when she was four and not one, none of the Woodstock production or the World War Two Anniversary or AeroSpace series production or any of the others you see here, not one was printed by anyone with a background in printing. Your students could be producing these.
But most importantly, everyone that had the opportunity to print these products, even my 4 year old, came away from the experience with the knowledge of how printing was done. I'm not just talking about appreciation. This my 4 year old can get from Mr. Rogers. I'm saying that they were involved in the entire printing process, performing tasks representative of the world of printing that were as impressionable as any experience that would have involved hundreds more hours of skill development.
How? Printed products normally go through three production stages: design, pre-press and printing; each requiring its own specialized technicians. Design gathers the skills of the illustrator, photographer, typositor and graphic artist; pre-press, the darkroom technician, platemaker, and ink formulator; and printing; the printer that operates the press. When integrated with a computer graphics program, my printer assimilates all of these functions into one system and simplifies the process so that a single individual can perform all these tasks proficiently with minimal skill development. It thus allows the full experience of printing without having to involve the traditional skills.
The three components I passed around earlier are the whole system. Except for some compressed air and normal household electricity, this is all you need to now add printing as a technology education teaching tool.
Most of you at one time or another have wanted a good application to encourage computer skills development. Well, this is it. Your students can become really creative when they have a project they are seriously interested in. Whether it's for a souvenir of a favorite rock group, a birthday favor or mother's favorite pie recipe, every student will be inspired by the potential of designing and printing these products. You'll find in no time they'll have mastered creating files, applying templates, proportioning and extruding type, pasteing and grouping images and printing out transparancies.
And there are all levels of involvement possible. The beauty of the process is that the beginning student can produce multi-color products with satisfying results right alongside the most advanced student performing highly sophisticated multi-color printing tasks. I mean by this that color effects can be added in the printing stage by the beginning student and that color separations created in the design stage can be registered in multi-plate printing by the advanced student all on the same computer program and printing equipment. This makes the system appropriate for a broad range of grade, interest and talant levels.
One key element in learning a process is learning its relationship to value. When a product closely resembles a commercial product its value is taken more seriously. Value in the marketplace is related to quality, attractiveness and popularityand decisions on value are made in the choice of design, color, material and finishing.
I'd like to give a whole talk on the power that experiencing printing technology brings to Technology Education. It is among the oldest manufacturing technologies and is one of the top three, along with gunpowder and the magnetic compass, that Francis Bacon is often quoted as naming as those responsible for our technological era. For now I'll leave this to the History of Technology people. But I'd just like to say that there is nothing like printing for getting in touch with technology and you certainly don't want "printing" to be something that is seriously lacking in your technology education. My father would think you should have known better.