Scott Odman, 52, is currently the master Screen Print Manager here at Noble Works with over 30 years of experience. He was born and raised in Portland, OR, before moving from Mulino, OR and graduated from Molalla High School. He continued his education ROTC degree program at Portland State University. Odman went on to active duty in the U.S. Army where he was stationed at Ft. Polk, LA.
Screen Printing Experience
After completing his service commitment for the Army, he moved to Houston, Texas where he was introduced to the screen printing and embroidery industry by a friend who owned a promotional & marketing business. Odman became a natural salesperson, learning the dynamics of sales and how to attract clients. After six months, he decided to move back home where he took up residence in Gresham, Oregon. Immediately, he started his own business in his garage, investing in a 4-color press along with some screens, inks and supplies. Armed with his determination, entrepreneurial spirit and a book called “How to Screen Print for Fun & Profit”, his business was off and running. Additionally, he invested in a computer along with graphic design software. He quickly learned the importance of doing as much as possible in-house and every job starts with artwork.
Within a year, he moved his shop to downtown Portland where he had better exposure and consequently more sales. It was at this point where he added vinyl signs and a flat stock auto press to his repertoire. He even had some profitable accounts printing graphics onto snowboards. But, this was short lived as China entered the market with wholesale pricing that undercut all American manufactures along with a third of his sales. He found himself scrambling to recover the lost sales. This led him to bidding (and winning) an exceptionally large sign job, only to find out that they could only accept bids from union shops. Without hesitation, he did his research, applied for and was accepted by the Sign, Display & Screen Process local 1094 (AFL-CIO).
After delivering the large banner job, he advertised his union status and started using it as a marketing arm. This attracted clients such as the Democratic Party of Oregon with exposure to multiple campaigns with a need for yard signs and t-shirts.
He attributed his success by offering an array of products and having a diversified client list. Along with his union accounts, he also printed for local area schools, local events, restaurants along with contracts with Nike.
After a life changing divorce in 2000, Odman decided not to continue his screen printing business and closed down his shop. He continued with his trade working for another shop. With an opportunity to travel to North Dakota for New Year’s Eve, he met Paula (now his current wife) and it was love at first sight. He decided to relocate to Grand Forks, ND and immediately went to work for a screen printing shop that needed an experienced printer with a graphic design background to be their Production Manager. It was here where he got his first experience with a six-color automatic press printing on average 1600 shirts per day. “By running an automatic machine it also made me be a better manual screen printer” Scott says.
Within a year after moving there, Scott started a sign business on the side becoming a union shop marketing to other unions in North Dakota, Minnesota and Wisconsin. He landed accounts like I.B.E.W., Teamsters and Plumbers & Pipe fitters as well as signage for the John Kerry for President campaign.
In 2006, Scott’s wife Paula received her nursing degree and they decided to move to Portland, Oregon where there were better opportunities in the nursing field. Scott brought with him some of his Midwest accounts as he started rebuilding and reconnecting with some of his past accounts. “It’s like starting all over again.” Scott exclaimed. “The climate and screen printing market is so saturated and competitive now. Amazing what happened in five years.” Scott decided to take on contract work, running large jobs like 45,000 and 84,000 piece Buffalo Wild Wing orders. He ended up taking a full time position for another large shop as their Production Manager. It was here where he got experience running huge production runs on the automatic. He printed for accounts like the Trailblazers, Portland Timbers, Taco Time and Nike. Scott continued running his own business on the side, building relationships and being offered more contract work. The demand was enough to have him go back on his own and he relocated to a shop in southeast Portland. He added a 10-color automatic to go along with his six-color and a wide format digital printer. The most challenging thing was finding reliable workers. After a few years his wife had a nursing opportunity down in Southern Oregon where they relocated to Grants Pass, OR. Scott was able to hold onto most of his accounts but getting a foothold down south took some time. “I felt like everyone took me as a snake oil salesman”, Scott says. “I wasn’t from there and I always had to really sell myself to get an order.”
After two unhappy years in Grants Pass, they decided to move closer to family and the Portland metro area. They bought a house in West Salem and once again, Scott’s business was hitting the re-start button. Scott had reached a burnout point of operating a business and wanted to focus on just the craft of screen printing.
After an excessive job search, Scott eventually connected with Ariel Barrientos, owner of Noble Works. The two hit it off and the rest is history. “What made coming on board with Ariel so attractive is that I saw so much of me in him when I was his age. I immediately believed in him (and his vision) and I wanted to be a part of that. And, I’m encouraged with the progress we’ve made already and the future looks very promising.” Scott exclaims.
What’s a common issue in the screen printing industry?
“The Screen Printing market is very competitive and is saturated with a lot of new shops and online companies. I take pride in my quality and I’ve seen a lot of sloppy printing out there. This is a trade that takes a ton of practice and one must stay up to date on the new types of garments, materials and inks being introduced yearly. There’s only so many YouTube videos one can watch. It takes trial and error, a lot of practice and an experienced trainer to help shorten the learning curve. I’ve trained dozens of people over the years. A couple of which actually have their own screen printing businesses today.”
What lessons have you learned throughout your screen printing experience?
“The one thing I look back on that I fell asleep at the wheel with was the internet. I was late to the game and that handicapped me. By the time I built my first website, it was just informational. It didn’t have a shopping cart or any designing options the successful sites had. I was still learning about search engines and how to optimize my site. I feel like it would have given me validity online had I started earlier… but who knows.”
“Also. every single time I would relocate it was like starting over. I always told myself ‘Oh I’ll be able to print wherever and take my accounts with me’. It takes time to get established within a community. And by the time I was getting my name out, I would pack up and move again.”
How has the pandemic affected your job compared to how it was before?
“Well it’s taken a toll on the economy. So, consequently people are more frugal with their money. At the start of everything, clients didn’t know which direction we were going. Schools closed down so we lost that business. Luckily, we have a strong clientele in the construction industry and that’s been carrying us.”
What do you like most about your job?
“I like having the liberty to produce products and prints that wow’s not only our customers but other screen printers. I get a rush from the “wow” factor. But it goes even deeper than that. I like it when people ask about the work and question how I did something. That’s what’s going to generate the word of mouth.”
What’s something you want the public to know about screen printing?
“I’ve always told people I’m only as good as my artwork. If I receive poor artwork from them, the printing is going to be poor. Poor artwork usually includes cleaning it up by vectoring (redrawing) so it will print sharp. A quality print always starts with quality artwork.”
A Man of Many Screen Print Innovations
Along with over 4.5 million shirts credited to his experience, Scott has a long catalog of different types of products he’s printed on. Throughout his career, Scott has had the opportunity to print on a wide variety of substrates. He’s not afraid to experiment with new processes and inks. And he’s been able to create some extraordinary end-products. He developed a special printing technique along with a tutorial in which he submitted to Screen Print Magazine to be published in their Special Effects edition. He’s done work on all types of apparel, wood, metal, neoprene, snowboards, lexan, polycarbonates, steel, plaques, sandblasted glass and ceramics. But, his personal favorite and most prideful is his Texture Graphics in which he has patented. It’s a process of printing graphics onto drywall using texture mud instead of ink. The result leaves the imprint with an “embossed effect”.
“How I discovered this was I was with a contractor friend and he was texturing a wall with a hopper. And I said, ‘Man, wouldn’t it be cool to control this and create a graphic using texture mud?’. So, I took some mud home that night, burnt a screen with my logo and I screen printed it onto drywall. Once it dried, I painted over it with paint matching the wall. It was clear that this beautiful embossed effect was different and I was onto something. I also learned that I could add paint to the mud for a contrasting color. Then, I started doing a search on the internet to see if there were any products out there close to this and I couldn’t find anything. That’s when I decided to get a provisional patent for the process. I’m hoping I can expand the exposure and market this as a service here at Noble Works.”
What’s The Difference Between Working At Noble Works Compared To Other Screen Printing Shops?
“The difference is that I have a vested interest in Noble. My heart is in it for the soul of the company, not just the work. I always care about quality and give my best to everything. However, I don’t think I’ve ever been dedicated to a company (other than my own) as much as I am with Noble Works. I have a vision of this company becoming something very special. And I’ve been drinking the kool-aid since day one.”