Since it was founded in 1973, only 107 people have been inducted into the Academy of Screen Printing Technology. James Ortolani, Pittsburg, just became one of them.

Since it was founded in 1973, only 107 people have been inducted into the Academy of Screen Printing Technology. James Ortolani, Pittsburg, just became one of them.

The national sales manager of Hix Corporation had been nominated for the honor in 2009 and 2010, and achieved it this year. The induction ceremony was conducted during the Specialty Graphic Imaging Association Expo, held Oct. 19-21 in New Orleans.

“I’m pretty excited about this,” Ortolani said. “I’ve been in this industry 27 years now and it’s kind of been my life’s work.”

The academy, founded by SGIA, recognizes persons who have contributed to the technical growth and/or advancement of the screen printing industry.

“I write a lot of technical articles,” Ortolani said. “I think that might have helped put me in there.”

In fact, he’s written many hundreds of  them, and also presented many hundreds of teaching seminars, including some in Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia and Japan.

Another of his accomplishments on the international stage was to set up the first commercial textile screen printing operation in Moscow, Russia, in 1989. He also trained Russian artists and workers in the field of screen printing.

“This was not only a major milestone in screen printing, but also a small step in the right direction, as U.S. business joint ventures with Russia helped to end the Cold War during this time period,” Ortolani said.

After he returned from Moscow, U.S. Sen. Bob Dole invited him to a formal dinner to represent Kansas and Hix Corporation as one of the first Kansas companies to have a successful joint venture with Communist Russia.

In 2006 Ortolani was asked by Dr. Jesse Hudson, former dean of education at the Ozark Technical College, Springfield, Mo., to help develop a screen print curriculum for high schools and to assist with getting textile screen printing added as a national competition event at SKILLS USA. This attempt was successful.

Ortolani was also appointed to the SKILLS USA Screen Printing Technical Committee, and the group developed a textile screen printing curriculum.

“This came at a critical point in time when many schools were eliminating screen printing from their programs,” he said. “Our efforts renewed an interest in screen printing and saved the program at many schools.. My greatest reward was experiencing the enthusiasm of students as they learned the skills and fundamentals of the screen printing process.”

This is especially meaningful to him because he also learned screen printing in high school.

“Norman Krusic at Pittsburg High School taught me screen printing,” Ortolani said. “I wish he and my dad were here to see this, but I’m sure they do know about it.”

He is the son of Virginia Ortolani and the late Al Ortolani.

“My mom kind of gave me the self-confidence that you can do whatever you want to do,” Ortolani said. “Hix Corporation gave me the opportunity to travel to 22 countries. If I hadn’t worked at Hix, I’m sure none of this would have happened. It was Pittsburg schools and Pittsburg businesses that gave me the opportunity to be on a world stage with some of the best.”

Though he learned screen printing in high school, Ortolani studied fine arts for two years at Pittsburg State University.

“I was going to be an art teacher,” he said. “Then I worked at Foodtown for a time before it was sold. I fell back into screen printing.”

Ortolani does have another love — music. He’s involved with Mister X, local alternative/rock band, and recently performed solo in the Pittsburg Art Walk. He’s also a founding member of an unofficial group called the All Industry Band, composed of musicians from all areas of the screen printing industry.

“Music is a fun release,” he said. “It’s also a fun way to network with our industry peers.”