Often the best education comes from the combination of classroom learning and hands-on, real-life experience.
Recently, digital design students from Lecanto High School were invited to spend a morning at Citrus Sports and Apparel in Crystal River with owner Will Wilson.
Previously, Wilson had talked to the students in the classroom about his career in graphic design and printing.
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“At the school they have a little screen printing shop with equipment they’ve had for many years … and when the principal reached out to me about mentoring them a little bit, I thought they’d like to come to the shop to use our manual machine and print their own shirts,” Wilson said.
He designed the artwork: an L for Lecanto with a panther, the school mascot, the Citrus Sports & Apparel logo underneath, encircled with the words, “Lecanto High School Digital Design Field Trip 2023.”
As Wilson pointed out the fully automated print machine that was churning out a batch of printed T-shirts he told the students, “You have to learn the manual way of doing this before you can do this, because this will make you lazy.”
Digital design teacher Maryjean Krizanac said some of the students are already printing in the school’s print shop and for some, this would be their first try at it.
“The goal today is to get first-hand knowledge of the printing process in a real-life setting,” Krizanac said. “It’s important that they know what they can do with their artwork.”
As Jaelynn Reid waited her turn to print, she said she had just started to print in her class.
“I’ve always been into creative stuff,” she said. “I don’t know if I’d do this as a job, but I do enjoy it.
“I’d like to get into something that’s more hands-on artsy, but this is a very cool experience,” she said. “It’s different from drawing, because you make your design on a computer (with Adobe Illustrator). Then we put it on a screen and from there we print.”
The hardest part, she said, is having to use your arms to move the ink with the squeegee.
“It takes a lot of muscle,” she said.
Tenth-grade student Jimmy Dang wanted to know about the kind of ink Wilson used.
“Our problem is that our (projects) aren’t coming out dark enough,” he said. “When we expose (a design) on the screen it’s hard for it to come through.”
Dang said his main interest was in the process of producing.
“I hate making the design – I’m not creative,” he said. “I’m more interested in the mechanics.”
When Natalie Boulerice finished printing her shirt, she said she was proud of it.
“My interest in design started back in middle school when I started making my own clothes,” she said. “I like the idea of embroidery and also screen printing.
“In my freshman year I took digital design 1, and I came back in my junior year for (digital design) 2, because that’s the actual printing. I do a lot of printing now.”
She said this is a good skill to learn, but it probably won’t be her career.
“I want to go into cosmetology and do hair,” she said.
As LHS senior Nathan Venuto looked at the shirt he had just printed, he told Krizanac he had an idea about putting L on the blank front of the shirts.
“Great idea for a follow-up activity,” Krizanac said. “When we get back to class, you can go on Adobe Illustrator and design an L and we will put it on a screen and print it in our print shop.”
After the students left, Wilson told the Chronicle that everyone enjoyed their time and that he wanted to continue mentoring them.
“I’m going back to visit their class again soon,” he said.