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Apprentice Journeys

Terry Cella, TiC Media Director

Terry Cella, TiC Media Director

I've been in print for 23 years. I left school at 16 and went to art and design college in Bexley but didn't finish the full year because they said I had to go out and get work experience.

My parents had a florist shop in Borough in South East London and there was a print company at the end of the road. The owner came into the shop all the time and my dad asked him about work experience so I went and did that and they had an apprenticeship coming up in a few months' time and asked if I'd be interested. I took the apprenticeship at Libra Group as a Final film planner and plate maker - the very old conventional way of what we do on the iMacs now. What took eight men to do a job now takes one!

I came into print as the industry was changing - my apprenticeship started out as 3 years but was extended to 4 years as they adapted it to suit the changing times. I had a great teacher - back then you'd get a clip round the earhole if you did something wrong, it's probably very different now!

Other than making money from unsuspecting colleagues during my sandwich runs, I enjoyed troubleshooting files - pulling them apart and rebuilding them so they were print ready. It was a challenge and the technology wasn't as good back then so it was a real skill. Those that haven't worked their way up and studied the role inside-out don't have the level of knowledge and skill that an apprenticeship sets you up with.

Through my career I've worked with some of the big boys. Following Libra Group I continued in financial print and then moved into commercial printing. I worked at St Ives as a supervisor running a team at a £20m operation before moving on to consult on, and help set up, departments at other print companies.

More recently, I founded TiC Media to offer something different to customers. My biggest bug bear is hiding behind an email; print is personal and deserves that face-to-face sell and that's what I'm all about. My technical knowledge of artwork means that I can talk to customers with a level of expertise but I cut out the jargon! As well as running my own business I also mentor at the Longfield Academy in Kent which is part of the Leigh Academies Trust - passing on my knowledge to the next generation.

Digital print has regenerated print and it's a very different landscape to when I started my apprenticeship. I'd advise anyone coming into the industry to learn as much as they can and understand each step of the print process and production flow. The industry is forever changing and the opportunities within print are huge - there are so many new products and so much creativity and a lot of people don't understand this. People should ask the question, "Can it be done?"... and 9 out of 10 times it can.

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