Kate Bell, a Wiscasset resident, has opened High Tide Printing Co. on Railroad Avenue, in Wiscasset. The storefront, which opened in mid-June offers a wide range of designs and custom orders.
Bell, who was raised in Caribou and is a native of the area, discovered her passion for screenprinting accidentally. She started in 2011 as a retail employee at Cool As A Moose Brunswick. Later, she transferred to Art Forms which is a company that specializes screenprinting.
“I had no idea what screenprinting was, never knew how a shirt was made, and I just kind of got thrown into it … I fell in love with it,” Bell said of her first interaction with the process of screenprinting, which was in 2011.
Bell began her graduate studies at Central Maine Community College in 2016, graduating with a degree of graphic design. Bell, after spending the last eight printing in her own basement, decided to finally open a storefront and pursue screenprinting as a full-time career.
High Tide Printing Co.’s prime location on the Sheepscot River was a drawing point for Bell when searching for a location, along with the fact that her family has lived in Wiscasset for four years.
Bell had planned to move into 6 Railroad Ave. before the COVID-19 pandemic. But the lockdowns delayed everything. When the building’s owner contacted Bell to see if she was still interested, she had to jump at the chance, she said.
High Tide Printing Co., since opening their storefront, has completed many custom orders for other businesses.
“Other businesses are starting to hear about me, so I’ve been doing those shirts,” Bell said.
Bell hopes to diversify her job opportunities. While many custom orders come from business, she is confident of her skills and believes in them.
“I would say no job is too small. I like helping out people whether it’s five shirts or 200,” she said.
Bell customers who want to order custom-made products from High Tide Printing Co. can contact them via social media, or simply stop by and place an order.
Bell sells her designs in-store, usually as shirts or sweatshirts. Many of the designs feature nature scenes inspired by Maine’s natural beauty, like mountains drawn by Bell’s father-in-law, which is one of her favorite designs.
Bell’s process when it comes to screenprinting alternates between at home and at the store. Bell usually exposes the screens in a dark, enclosed room with UV light. Then she takes the screens back to her storefront, which has a printing machine.
Bell’s press can hold six screens at the same time, which is helpful when doing a job involving multiple colors. She cures ink using a machine known as a flash unit.
Bell is also passionate about teaching others the art of screenprinting, as many don’t know about it, she said.
“If someone comes in and wants to know the process, I am more than happy to show it to them, whether I’m in the middle of printing something or not, I don’t mind flipping on the switch and showing them how it works,” said Bell.
Bell, the sole employee of High Tide Printing Co., is hoping to expand into a larger company that does screen printing.
“My first goal was to do this. This was like a life’s dream for me. My dream location, on the water, in a town that I love and am growing my family in,” she said. “Something that I had always told people is that I wanted to do this because of my kids, I wanted to show them that you should follow your dreams and at least try it … I want to be a good role model to them.”
High Tide Printing Co. operates from Tuesday to Saturday, 10 am to 5 pm.
Call 540-6641 for more information or visit High Tide Printing Co. Facebook or Instagram.