This article is a tribute to my guru, MICHEL CAZA who recently conferred with the prestigious Howard A. Parmele Award, By SGIA (Specialty Graphic Imaging Association), USA, for his “extensive contribution to the screen printing industry”
When I first received an email from my friend and colleague at ASPT, Mike Young that my guru “Michel Caza was presented with the Howard A. Parmele Award during the SGIA Expo in Las Vegas” I was really thrilled and excited to congratulate him on the phone first rather than congratulating through email. So, I called him immediately on his mobile phone when he was in Vegas. While talking to him I noticed that he was very contented because after a long wait his hard work was well recognized by this industry.
I salute my GURU (and a great legend) for his achievement and his commitment, dedicated towards this industry. His passion and hard work in screen-printing research & development will definitely benefit many screen printers and his pupils in this world immensely.
To honor my great guru Michel Caza a thought immediately flashed in my mind to write this memoir as a fitting tribute to him. In fact it was a long due.
I want to recount how Michel and I met, how from an ardent ‘screen printing disciple’ finally I became his spiritual ‘son’. (In fact I am still his ‘pupil’ and ‘son’ as he often addresses in his all communications). As you walk down my memory lane sketched here, you will realize that I had just a professional connection with him initially.
Once I happened to read some spiritual thought which said: “Everyone should adopt a GURU in their life. Your GURU will guide you and help you develop your skills.”
On that day I vowed to follow these ‘words of wisdom’ throughout my life because I strongly believe in it. First of all, my great guru and guide was none other than my father late Dhirubhai Mistry, from whom I have learnt the best values of my life and still following it. Whatever I am today is because of my father’s sheer strength, hard work and dedication … and of course my parents blessings.
My father used to read a lot daily. He had an enormous library adorned with many useful technical books and magazines. Even today I have screen printing magazines and books dating back to 1960’s (courtesy my father). My father had an eagle eye for good articles. He used to make a copy of them and file separately so that he could have an easy access to refer them whenever needed. I remember, he always made it a point to discuss good technical articles with me and share few tips on what he read.
As a new-comer, I used to pay heed to his advice or sometimes just pretended that I understood. After my father’s death I started realizing the value of such technical information. Thereafter, I developed more appetite for updating my technical knowledge by reading various books, articles and magazines.
The more I read the more interest I developed in reading. It dragged me towards the screen printing process more deeply. Now it has become a part of my life or I say passion.
As many in the printing industry know about us, I mean Grafica & DMI, we were originally into screen printing business before we entered into machinery manufacturing in 1989.
So screen printing process was not new to us. May be one of the reasons, why my company is today able to manufacture good machines was because we know what screen printers really need to deliver high quality prints.
In the year 2000 there was a sudden boom in advertising business, generating huge demand for graphics screen printing and digital was just getting popular in those segments.
Since I had very good expertise in industrial screen printing (especially Printed Circuit Boards-PCB’s), process color (CMYK) graphics screen printing was like a rocket science to me but not for my father because since 1960’s he had mastery in producing billboards through screen printing process. But ever since I joined my father’s company in 1987, process color screen printing and graphics was totally replaced with printed circuit boards (PCB) since early 80’s. So my expertise was mainly in PCB’s and I had no idea how to even carry out the basic CMYK separation.
Soon our machinery business started growing in these segments there were plenty of crazy questions from customers; there were frequent problems ‘delivered’ by my engineers and customers and I was supposed to give them appropriate solutions.
In the absence of complete knowledge in process color screen printing, myself and my engineers used to blindly arrive at a conclusion that e.g. the problem of dot gain was due to screen printing machine. This is one of the examples like that there were many other teething problems that we had to solve daily.
However, once I started reading SGIA’s Technical Guide Books, we realized that ‘dot gain’ problem was not due to machine there were some other reasons related to the technicality of process color screen printing. That is said: half knowledge is dangerous.
(Those days SGIA used to send Technical Guide Books to all its members. Later, they started sending them in PDF format on CDs. Now we can access everything online. Days have changed … but I still like the printed version.)
Those days I read many remarkable articles, some of my favorites were: “Screen Printing Criteria in Halftone Printing” by Hans Gerd Scheer and “Screen Printing of Fine Line Halftones by Michel Caza and his several other articles. I am mentioning his full name here because at that time he was not my ‘guru’ but story is taking you there, step by step.
I was quite fascinated by Michel’s in depth knowledge and command over the subject. I found his articles very easy to understand, crystal clear and absolutely practical. His articles became my daily ‘food for thought’ and a ‘dose of medicine’ to cure many routine problems.
As I gained knowledge from his articles, I started hunting for more information about him and his technical articles. Later, I found that Michel had published a Technical Guide Book, Titled “THE TECHNIQUES OF SCREEN PRINTING” compiled in a PDF format on a CD, comprising around 1400 pages with 17 videos explains the details of screen printing techniques for industrial, graphics, textile and art (serigraphy). Within no time I ordered my copy.
It’s an amazing tool of technical information in one CD. The CD emphasizes UV technology, four-color process, fine line halftones with 120 parameters to control, stochastic halftones, analog and digital pre-press, stencils, substrates, inks and more…
This is the newest, most comprehensive source of technical information on screen printing to be found anywhere. It is in a PDF format easy with great search features.
This is all about my CMYK connection with Michel. Now, over to UV curing technology:
UV Curing technology was not new to me because my father had adopted UV in PCBs since 1986. So naturally, from the day I joined my family business, I was exposed to UV inks only. But I never knew that UV is so popular in western countries for graphics four-color process until I read all of Michel Caza’s articles on UV Technology.
Except my father-mentor, I rarely came across any screen printers who had such in depth technical knowledge in UV technology, UV Curing Inks and related chemicals. After reading his series of articles on UV, I yelled: “Here’s a screen printer who knows his subject very well. Hat’s off to you Michel.”
From this moment I considered Michel Caza as my ‘remote’ guru yet to be embraced fully. I was eager and kept a high hope to meet him one day and shake hands with him. But I never realized that this ‘golden’ hand will one day become an ever helping hand in my profession… why in my profession, but the entire screen printing industry in India.
In 2002, I joined the managing committee of Screen Printers’ Association of India (SPAI) and we had organized a group tour for our members to visit FESPA 2002 in Madrid, Spain. The committee had a great plan to handover mementos at FESPA’s both to the incoming President (at that time) Ricardo Delgado and the outgoing President… it was Michel Caza! Now I was 100% sure that I would get a chance to shake hand with Michel, a long pending ‘project’ ever since I started reading his technical articles. Why just hand shake, I was now confident that I would also get some time to sit with him and discuss my problems related to screen printing. But on that D-day unfortunately he was busy with his board meetings and I could not meet him on the scheduled day.
But I was fortunate to catch hold of him the very next day at FESPA Stand and requested him to spend his valuable time with me. He was kind-hearted to concede my request and spent time with me sharing many insights about screen printing.
Finally, I was back in India, Mumbai precisely with good memories of meeting a ‘screen printing guru’ but with half satisfaction.
Soon after the FESPA Madrid show, there was an exhibition – ‘Screen Print India’ expo at Nehru Centre in Worli, Mumbai where the organizers had invited him as a chief guest for the opening ceremony which was later followed by his full day technical seminar in fine lines and halftones screen printing.
Regardless of being an exhibitor in that show, I attended his seminar with full excitement and attention. With the request of the organizers, my company also gathered a large number of printers to attend his seminar. That was for the first time in the history of Indian screen printing industry I witnessed more than 155 screen printers attending such a long technical seminar even though the seminar fee was Rs. 2500.00 per person!
During the seminar Michel displayed many of his creative and magical screen printed jobs using 150 LPI and above. Frankly till that time I had only read from his articles that he used to screen print 150 LPI and above but when I saw his actual prints I was really stunned. That’s why I call his prints magical!
After the seminar I requested Michel to allow me to see those prints closely and he was delighted to show and explain me the tricks. But for me those simple tips and tricks were not simple. It was not all that easy to understand because I didn’t even know e.g. ‘what is dot gain and what is gray balance’ in graphics process color screen printing.
After attending his seminar I could not focus fully on the remaining days of that show because since then I had sleepless nights as to how and where I could learn these great “Michel Caza Techniques” of screen printing fine lines and moiré free halftones. But I was determined to learn these techniques.
Since this show, I was restless because at that time I could not find anyone in India like him who was a master in screen printing. So, few weeks later after I dared to write an email to Michel requesting him whether he could teach all those techniques which he explained during his seminar in India. Unbelievable! He replied back in just few hours saying: “You can pack your bag anytime and come to France to learn these techniques practically in my company Graficaza and stay till you are completely satisfied.” I was thrilled like a child… because at first instance I never expected this positive reply and I just tried my luck by shooting him an email request with remote hope.
Also, he had made it clear to me that during the training period, I could learn as much as I wanted and surprisingly he was kind enough to offer me a free training as he mentioned in his email that “I do not teach for money”. Later I found that there were many lucky pupils like me to whom he had devoted his time, energy and superb technical knowledge.
In today’s professional world, who would impart such high knowledge free of cost? But Michel is unique and special. In fact this is called passion towards the industry. In fact the knowledge, which he openly shared with me is now benefitted by thousands of screen printers in India through my institute “Dhirubhai Mistry Institute For Print Technology Research & Training (DMI).
And this was the first LESSON I learnt from Michel even before becoming his PUPIL… And I vowed not to take any fees from students if I were to set up an institute in India to teach screen printing, and in fact my beloved father late Dhirubhai Mistry too had the same vision when he had great plans to set up a screen printing institute.
Without wasting much time, I planned all my immediate work schedules in my company to accomplish urgent tasks and meanwhile I also booked my ticket to France or I say for a ‘screen printing educational tour’.
I just opened my memory-diary and I recollected that on 28-April-2003, Monday afternoon I reached France. There after from the airport I reached Novotel Hotel by taxi. Immediately I informed Michel about my safe arrival and he was very happy and excited as well. He told me to get ready within one hour as he would arrange my pickup to have dinner at his home with his good friend and a board member of FESPA, Gyorgy Kovacs, a Hungarian screen printing professional, who is currently the President of FESPA.
Michel lived in an interesting country side village where the total population he mentioned was not more than 200 people. His house was surrounded by serene and beautiful environment. He lived in an enormous huge house flank by a big garden on the rear side. And that was the first time I met Michel’s better half Therese and Gyorgy Kovacs.
Since I am a pure vegetarian, usually whenever I travel abroad with lengthy tour, I carry home-made Indian food and some dry-fruits since I do not find much of veg-stuffs, suiting my tastes. But that day Therese surprised me by serving me with Indian curry with rice. Obviously I could not expect the Indian taste with many spices. But because of her excitement behind cooking and serving the Indian food to me with love, the dinner became extra delicious.
Anyway, after the dinner Michel accompanied me all the way back to the hotel and alerted me to get ready by 6.45 am in the morning so that we could reach his factory Graficaza by 7 am. The working hour was very interesting to me – 7.00 am to 3.30/4 pm. ‘Early to bed early to rise’ principle was possible there, considering this timings!
For few days, out of my excitement, I clicked as many pictures as I could, to make sure that I take good memories back home.
Since my training at Graficaza was planned for three weeks minimum with the possibility of extending it to one full month, I wanted to stay in a comfortable hotel that too somewhere nearby to avoid waste of time in travelling. To start with as I mentioned earlier I was put up in Hotel Novotel. But few days later I was contemplating to shift to another better hotel nearby Graficaza or near to Michel’s home to avoid long distance traveling. But I could not find any similar quality hotel nearby. So the next day I approached Michel to help me in this matter but he was also unable to find a better hotel near to his home or factory.
After few days, he told me to checkout from Novotel as he was planning to find some solution. I checked out of my hotel and kept the luggage in his car and he straight drove to his factory. Till afternoon he kept me under suspense not knowing about his plan.
In the mind I had full trust with him that he must have made some arrangement for me. But in the afternoon he called me to say: “Look, if you are comfortable in staying in our house for the duration of your training, I and Therese have no problem. In that case we want you to stay in our house but ….“You can stay as our Guest and not as a paying guest!”
Vow! That was really a memorable moment in my life! I felt greatly honored especially when I was not so closely known to him except that I was a keen knowledge seeker. I only knew at that time Michel always used to be eager to openly share knowledge with serious knowledge seekers like me. On the other hand I was also thrilled to live with his family because I felt this opportunity would take me more closer to his heart and I could also see the life style of my ‘guru in the making’.
Slowly and steadily my relation with Michel & Therese turned out to be so spiritual that I could really feel the warmth of their love and affection. My mom died when I was very young and Therese filled that vacuum and gave me those wonderful feelings back for few days.
Today, Michel Caza is not only my guru but more than what a guru can offer to his pupil. Those feelings, moment, love and affection, which they both showered on me, are deeply engraved in my heart which can never ever fade away.
After my training was completed, yes I had to really say a hard pressed goodbye with tight emotions. As I was leaving, Therese could not stop her emotions and she was in tears with motherly love.
Frankly this was my most memorable moment in my life because I entered in France as a knowledge seeker and was leaving my Guru’s home as their adopted son. Even today Michel always greets me in all his communications mentioning “My Dear Son or Hi Son.”
In today’s materialistic world, it is difficult to receive true and selfless love. I think there is something called past life relationship which must have got me reunited with Michel’s family in 2003.
Since my training with my guru, I have been closely associated with him in various FESPA and SPAI related trade events in India.
Even my guru had conducted a 3-day workshop on art-reproduction through screen printing at DMI. He was kind-hearted in permitting to publish his technical articles in my Grafica News and my companies website.
Michel is one of the key and important person towards the success of my institute DMI. Today on his achievement I would like to pass on all the credits for what my institute and I have received so far. Click here to read his message to DMI
Finally, I would like to congratulate my guru “Michel Caza” once again for being honored with “Howard A. Parmele Award” a long due and well deserved.
I also repeat my thanks to Therese & Michel Caza for being highly supportive, lovable and a source of my inspiration in my life.