6043Re: On apprenticeships
- May 31, 2006Perhaps the word apprentice is a stumbling block. I haven't read all
of the postings on this, but I do know that the printing trade is no
longer what it once was, & traditional "apprentices" are no longer in
demand by printers. There are, however, still people who would like
to learn the craft.
I took printing as a shop elective in junior high school in 1949. I
had to really start all over on my own when I finally got a press and
decided to print. I did very well learning on my own. I am a careful
worker, I have a keen eye for typographic form, for what combines &
what does not, & I am highly motivated to achieve fine printing; but
the difficulty of learning on one's own is that you have no one to
put to rest bad habits or awkward procedures. I am still learning &
unlearning even since 1994. This is ok in a private shop, but for
someone who runs a commercial operation, or who has substantial
commitment to a commission which must be done correctly & on time,
it is just not possible to cut corners with experience. It is thus
not hard to see why some experienced printers are reluctant to take
on what are sometimes loosely called "apprentices."
I have encouraged at least four people on this List in their first
steps, or second steps. None of them became an "apprentice," but
they all became good printers. This is because I gave what I could,
but mostly they were self motivated & the successes they now have
are largely their own; so my role was not as master/apprentice, but
The "apprentice" that I now have will one day be heir to my library,
icons, print shop, etc. So I expect he will have to learn how to
use it, or else what good will the gift be? I think encouragement
to all of the "newbies" so-called is an important responsibility of
those who have experience; because it is not just the technical ex-
pertise that we offer, it is the encouragement itself that counts.
The "newbies" will ultimately have to fend for themselves anyway.
I recall the Parable of the Sower from the Gospel of Matthew ch. 13,
where some of the seed fell by the wayside & was soon picked up by
the birds & came to naught; some fell in stony places & having no
good soil flourished briefly then withered away to nothing; & some
fell in good soil & brought forth some an hundred fold, etc. It's
as much up to the "newbies" to create the environment for learning
as is it is for the teachers. Your learning will not come from the
traditional "apprenticeship" environment which is contractual; it
will come form many places, mostly your own.
If you really want to print, you will find the way; & you will find
that there are wonderful, generous people who will help you.
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