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Wednesday , September , 27 2023
You are here : About Us  >  Our History
imgAustralian International Screenprinting Exhibition and Congress '74
Australian International Screenprinting Exhibition and Congress '74
imgSPAA Perth '87 Congregation
SPAA Perth '87 Congregation
imgSupplier Stand at SPAA Conference in Coolum, QLD, 1993
Supplier Stand at SPAA Conference in Coolum, QLD, 1993
imgGlen Crerar Scholarship Winners: Adam Johnson (2013) and Melissa Djukic (2007)
Glen Crerar Scholarship Winners: Adam Johnson (2013) and Melissa Djukic (2007)
imgSGIAA NSW Golf Day 2013 Winners, Team Spicers
SGIAA NSW Golf Day 2013 Winners, Team Spicers
img2013 SGIAA Awards Night
2013 SGIAA Awards Night
History of the SGIAA (now FESPA Australia)

What is FESPA Australia?

As Australia’s body for specialty printers, FESPA Australia promotes and represents the interests of the specialty printing and graphic imaging industry. Whether you are an established company or new to the industry, our aim is to provide you with the tools, advice and information you need to grow your brand and succeed in business.

FESPA Australia, as we know it today, officially formed on November 21st 1996, however the heart of the organisation has existed in numerous forms since December 1958. The structure and name of the organisation has morphed to reflect changes in the industry and the values it does today. Below is a brief history of this evolution.

The Early Years: 1950s Humble Beginnings

A core group of five screenprinting companies, known as 'Sydney's Master Silk-Screenprinters,' in October 1955 decided to hold a stand at the Graphic Arts Industries Australasian Printing Exhibition, held at Wynyard Station, Sydney. Demonstrating their knowledge to the public using a 20 by 14 inch McCormick, these pioneers aimed to attract young apprentices into their field of graphic arts. With time, members of this eager group traveled overseas, and in the process discovered the American organisation, the Screen Process Printing Association. Inspired by the Americans, Ted Joye, Mervyn Mason and Fred Althouse founded a similar association in Australia, calling it The Screen Process Printing Association International, Australian Chapter 33 and holding their first meeting and convention in Sydney, December 1958.



A Changing Organisation: 1960s to Mid 1990s

Since then, the organisation, which has always put graphic technology (particularly new technology) at the forefront of all they do, has morphed in many ways to keep up with changes in the graphic arts industry. The 1960s saw the introduction of an 'Apprentice of the Year Scheme' and the introduction of 4-colour half-tone production. The 1970s saw a massive print boom, with the Australian International Screenprinting Exhibition and Congress (AISPEC) held in 1974, attracting international printers from Canada, the USA, Japan and Europe. A fully automatic Siasprint cylinder press with dryer was demonstrated at AISPEC '74, printing up to 2000 impressions per hour.

In the 1980s, the Screenprinters Association of Australia (SPAA) as it became known in the 70s, solidified their standing as a primary source of knowledge on screenprinting legislation, technical information, marketing, business strategies and more for young companies. They ran numerous networking and social events during this period. The industry felt a major blow in the mid 80s when the banning of tobacco advertising was introduced in Australia and recession became a heavy issue for all. Membership with SPAA provided a support community for many to see these difficult times through.

The 1990s saw massive technological leaps with the development of UV printing, fully automated multi-colour flatbed presses and the rise of digital technology. July 12, 1990 saw the sad and untimely passing of Federal President, Glen Crerar, a key figure in the founding of SPAA and the rewriting of its constitution. The Glen Crerar Memorial Education Training Trust was established in his honour in June, 1991, aiming to foster young talent in the industry by offering educational funding for promising young workers in the print industry. Following this, tighter links were established with industry trainers and TAFE colleges to foster apprentices.


Evolution of Logos (Left to Right): Screen Process Printing Association International Australian Chapter Logo of the 50s, SPAA Logo of the 80s, SGIAA Logo 1996-2013, SGIAA 50 Year Anniversary Logo 1998, FESPA Australia Logo 2019

The Birth and Growth of the SGIAA: 1996 to 2014

On 21 November 1996, SPAA officially changed its name to the Screen and Graphic Imaging Association of Australia (SGIAA). The move was made to acknowledge the role of digital technology in the industry, and it came with a move to form an alliance with the Printing Industries Association of Australia (PIAA, formerly PATEFA), along with allowing suppliers full membership rights.

From 2000 onwards, New Zealand companies were allowed membership, after the demise of The New Zealand Screenprinters Association. 2001 saw the first Screen and Digital Print Awards organised by the SGIAA. The concept of online learning was introduced with the addition of Fespa's e-learning modules to the SGIAA website. This gave printers remote access to knowledge around the clock, a crucial tool for those in remote areas. E-Learning continues to be a key area of focus.

2013 saw the SGIAA alter its name again to the Specialty Graphic Imaging Association of Australia (still the SGIAA) to reflect the growing importance of digital and multidimensional applications of new technologies.


SGIAA Becomes FESPA Australia: 2019


At the SGIAA AGM held in Melbourne on 19 June 2019, our Association voted in favour of a special resolution to change the name of the Association to FESPA Australia.

President Nigel Davies said "FESPA is a Federation of 37 national associations whose members share the same challenges our members do. FESPA supports these associations through its 'Profit for Purpose' program, and the projects that FESPA has financially supported have enabled fantastic outcomes for the industry in Australia and across the world. Last year we submitted a detailed business plan and funding application to the FESPA Board and were invited to take the FESPA name. We can now announce that our members have voted to support this change."

The name change does not affect our close working relationship with SGIA in the USA as the historical similarity in names is only coincidental. Our members benefit from access to the resources of the two powerhouses of the global specialty printing industry.


The current board:

President.  Nigel Davies -  VMG Print Group

Vice President. David Asker - Imagebox

Treasurer - Mark Brooks - Ancyn Screen Printing

Secretary. Keith Ferrel - Cactus Imaging Treasurer.

Supplier Director - Matt Ashman - Durst Oceania