Visual Connections Australia

Angus McGrath - Graduate of the Year Reveals Future Plans


LIA Graduate of the Year, Angus McGrath, has had a few weeks now to consider the impact of his win in the industry’s biennial graduate awards, and has revealed his plans for the $10,000 Visual Connections LIA National Graduate Scholarship Prize.

Angus McGrath making a cylinder adjustment on the Koenig & Bauer press he operates at Note Printing Australia.

 McGrath, who is a Lithographic Printer at Note Printing Australia (NPA) was named winner from a field of impressive candidates who gathered in Sydney following their success at State Awards in 2022 and 2023. The announcement, made during a cocktail event at Visual Impact Sydney in May, was the culmination of a challenging application process which saw only the most impressive candidates named as finalists.

The McGrath family has a proud history in print. Angus’ grandfather established his own print business, Academy Graphics, in Tullamarine and later Swan Hill, while father Dean McGrath has also had a long career in the industry and is now the Chief Technical Officer for NPA. Now Angus is carrying the torch for a third generation.

“It probably looked inevitable that I would end up in printing having been exposed to it in some shape or form growing up, but like most people, I never really considered a career in print” Angus admits. “I ended up falling into it very much by accident which is often the case in our industry, but I’m very grateful to have become part of it.”

After working as a press assistant with CCL Secure (formerly Innovia Security) Angus moved to NPA where he held positions in Logistics and Finishing before commencing his printing apprenticeship in 2020.

He completed his indentures amidst all the challenges of COVID lockdowns – a testament to his dedication and focus – and judges said these qualities were also evidenced in his application for the Award, which included a series of interviews with LIA judges at both a State and National level and also a lengthy written submission detailing how he would invest the $10,000 prize to further his education and career goals, if he won.

“Putting the submission together helped me clarify what I want to achieve from the next stage of my career, and how I want to get there,” he says. “As part of that, I approached both Koenig & Bauer (KBA) and SICPA to request intensive training if I were to achieve the Award. Both replied with a letter of offer in support of my submission, which is fantastic.”

Both the press manufacturer, which is well known for its high-quality offset presses and specialist expertise in security printing, and the ink supplier, are located in Lausanne, Switzerland, and Angus plans to use his $10,000 prize to fund airfares and accommodation for a trip there later this year.

Visual Connections LIA National Graduate Scholarship Prize Winner, Angus McGrath, inspecting a bank note sheet at Note Printing Australia.

 “Having both companies based in Lausanne means I can make the most of the grant and my time to learn from some of the world’s leading experts,” he says. “I am already working on a KBA press, but the advanced training will help me achieve a more in-depth appreciation of the latest press technology and improve my proficiency in specialist security printing techniques. Training with SICPA will complement that on-press component, giving me a better understanding of ink technologies and their impact on the process,” he adds.

Quite a few current and former NPA staff have gone on to become KBA specialist print process instructors, but that’s just one option Angus is interested in exploring for his future should the opportunity arise.

“KBA has been generous enough to offer their component of the training free of charge, I’m hoping there may also be enough grant money left to help fund further study on my return, whether that’s in training and assessment, or perhaps leadership and management,” he says.

While the monetary prize is very welcome, Angus says he is already beginning to appreciate that the value of the Visual Connections LIA National Graduate Scholarship Prize goes much deeper. 

“I don’t think you can overstate the impact of being recognised for your performance,” he says. “Not only is it encouraging for all the finalists, it provides real motivation to keep striving and improving as we move forward with our careers – it helps maintain that drive to be the best we can”

“Just the opportunity to be part of the process was amazing, too. It’s been fantastic to meet fellow graduates from other areas of the print and graphic communications sector, and to realise once again just what a massive and diverse industry we come from. 

“The chance to network with our peers, and with many industry professionals at all levels through the LIA and the Awards process, has been enormously valuable. I’ve met some of the people who have won this Award previously, dating back many years, and to be in such impressive company is really overwhelming.

“It’s also been great to connect with so many ‘people in print’ through the LIA, and to meet the team from Visual Connections and Heidelberg Australia, who are so supportive of the industry through this, and many other initiatives,” Angus says. “I’m really proud and happy to have won, and just very grateful for the opportunities this Award has given me.”