Ps, Qs, Bs, and Ds

Tin Can News, Tin Can Tips

Here begins a regular feature of the Tin Can News. ( Or if you are reading in reverse chronological order, this will be the last post. )

When I started as a printer, more than twenty years ago, I hustled my way into my first job. I wanted to be a printer, and all I had was ambition and a few ink drawings that I wanted to sell copies of. The small-town newspaper editor that hired me needed a press operator and was willing to give me a shot at it.

Thus began my dive into learning the printing trade in a one-press-operator town. The editor, near retirement age, had grown up in the print shop, but had spent most of his time: covering the city council, taking photos of house fires and car accidents, selling ads, calming down disgruntled customers, taking change-of-addresses over the phone, editing sloppy news copy, pasting-up pages just before deadline, enlarging prints in the darkroom, all things I would get to experience, as well, in my next fifteen years at the paper.

There are now several good resources online with all sorts of good advice, perhaps passed down through the ages from master press operator to printers devil. If you are starting out in this trade, I encourage you to follow their advice. Read all you can. Talk to other printers, most of them exist entirely for the chance to expound their squirreled-away knowledge. Some are jerks, but not many.

When you have expended every sensible attempt at making legible prints, one-at-a-time, and it’s late, the rest of the world is sleeping, and the lamp still burns over your press, and you just want to go home. Maybe you’ll remember one of these methods, and you will be inspired to improvise, ‘cause so-and-so made do, and got the job done, with the wrong tool for the wrong job. Press on.