A rising star of print, look to the future
Racheal Alcorn, newly crowned Young Executive of The Year at the 2017 Media Super National Print Awards, tells us how she got to where she is, and why she's excited about the future.
In the short time she's worked in print, Racheal has already turned her hand to several areas of the industry, and it's a path that seems to be paying dividends.
'It's best to be involved in as many areas of print as possible and learn as much as you can. It makes you better–rounded,' she said. 'The administration role has really helped me understand all the different processes, so I can identify where a job needs to go straight away and choose the most efficient way of getting it printed.'
A winning attitude
After completing her apprenticeship in 2015, Racheal was offered a screen–printing job 'on–the–spot' by Jaybro, a local supplier of civil and construction industry products who could see the knowledge and passion Racheal had for printing.
Two years later, after progressing to print production administration and scheduling, an offer came her way to work for Superior Safety, a company that produces hi–vis work clothes.
She accepted the challenge and before long suggested they buy their own screen–printing machine, saving them thousands and providing greater flexibility for their customers. It has been this sort of problem solving that's got Racheal noticed.
'Whatever industry you're in, you should be working towards improvements, thinking about reducing costs, maximising productivity and enhancing all round performance,' she told us. 'It's important to keep advancing and coming up with new ideas, staying relevant. Especially in the print industry, because technology does creep up quite fast.
'I'm always researching new technologies. It's something that I like doing anyway. I'll go to my boss and say "I think this could work for us".'
The extra dimension
That said, what does she think are the most interesting things happening in the industry today?
'I think a lot of people in the print industry are excited about 3D printing. What it's capable of now and in the future. It could affect so many different areas.'
Are there any other innovations she wishes were around the corner?
'Well, directly related to my area of work, it would great if someone could invent a printer that prints plastisol transfers. It would be difficult because plastisol ink is so thick, but it might be possible.'
For those of us not in printing, plastisols are the most commonly used inks for printing designs onto garments.
'I'd also like to see a fabric that's compatible with any kind of printing – direct to garment, screen–printing, even sublimatic. A blend that's more compatible and more versatile.'
She also enthuses about how digital and print are supporting each other more frequently these days. Cloud computing is 'making the communication process a lot more efficient' and brands are embracing the exciting marriage between old and new mediums, as with Coca Cola's 'Share a Coke' campaign.
'Sales went crazy. Everyone wanted their name on a can and to be seen with it, so it became a trend. Print and digital media went hand–in–hand. It was a very smart marketing tactic. Vegemite and some other brands have run similar style campaigns.'
Looking to the future
The resurgence of 'old school' printed material and continued use of printing over digital in other key areas also pleases her. She concludes, 'Print will always be around. People prefer to sit down with a printed book rather than a tablet. Printed catalogues are still more efficient than digital marketing and you're more likely to look at something that you've received in the post. Car wraps are on the increase. Then there's signs, banners and there'll always be a need to print clothing.'
'I'm very optimistic about the future of printing and I'm interested to see how far new innovations like 3D printing can go. It's definitely the industry I plan to stay in.'