Steve Woods owns Arcade, one of only four printing houses able to take on continuous pattern printing. It's an old-fashioned method of printing patterned fabric that has been superseded by more economically viable print methods like digital printing and single shirt printing.
"If you look it up in the phone book, there's 10,000 guys that can print individual T-shirts for you, especially in plastics," says Woods. Arcade, however, hand-print long lengths of repeat pattern fabric, avoid plastisole inks and formaldehydes in favour of green alternatives and do the printing for some of the city's key fashion players including Josh Goot, Dion Lee and Chronicles of Never. "If I was more interested in business and less interested in art, I wouldn't do this," explains Woods. "But I just love the print; I love the designers; I like working with people; and I like breaking the 20 brands a year that I know wouldn't get broken anywhere else." Woods has noticed a handmade revival within the local scene in the last few years: "People are becoming more interested in hand arts because it is really authentic and they want not only to buy the product, but to learn the skills themselves."
To cater to this, Woods has begun holding printing classes at Arcade. On the first Saturday of the month he hosts a start-up class, open to anyone of any skill level. "We ask everyone to bring in a one-colour artwork and, unless it's completely ludicrous, we can make a film out of it and be printing it by the end of the day."
Woods has also been busy developing two new classes. Jumping on the current American rock'n'roll print and poster movement, Arcade will host an illustration workshop with well-known local design gun Mike Watt, while Ockapella's Mike Doherty will teach the lost art of making hand-cut Ruby stencil graphics for printing. "Rubycut is the most outlandish and authentic way you can do screen printing," enthuses Woods. "So I think we can safely say that we'll be the only people teaching it in Australia."
The Arcade team have also garnered a reputation for their block party-style printing blowouts. The last party in December saw all in attendance sporting printed tees, and bands playing astride graffiti and paste demos. The next party is slated for October, so keep on eye on their site for updates.
Arcade Start-up Print Class First Sat of the month, 10am–4pm. $200