Jamie McLennan is known by some people as Jamie the Printer, and for sure he is. In this, Over the Skype episode, he explains how he got the nickname. But he also tells about how much work his company DMR Graphics has despite the coronavirus. He also talks about an amazing screen printed poster for a jazz-festival printed in 19-colours.
You can see the poster at https://art4now.com/ – simply amazing, and minutes before this film is published, the festival is unfortunately cancelled 🙁 However, Jamie the Printer is still on – so sit in and listen to his great words!
As with all our ‘Over the Skype’ interviews, quality is limited to bandwidth, web-cams, and ability to literally LIVE mix the conversations. However, it works, and with Over the Skype, we will bring you more than 20 exciting people, and angles on the industry as it is right now.
Welcome back. This is Morten from INKISH.TV and we are still with, over the Skype, our new, I was just about to say former that is needed due to the circumstances of the world health right now. I have been in India this morning. I’ve been in Iceland this noon, and then now it’s morning in Pennsylvania in the US and I have the honor to meet, somebody refers to you as Jamie the Printer. But you are actually Jamie McLennan. Who are you Jamie?
Good morning. Good afternoon Morten. Yes. Thank you for having me on. I am Jamie McLennan, but yes, Deborah Corn many years ago tagged me, Jamie the Printer and it has stuck. So this is probably been three or years or more helping her do some things in the Printerverse. So my hashtag is on Twitter now. It’s everywhere else. Podcasts are now tagged Jamie the Printer. So it’s interesting. Kind of tried to grow that a little bit I guess. Yeah, but we’ll see how that goes. But it’s fun.
But I think that one of the things I really liked about you being a part of the Printerverse panels at the trade shows like Print and Graph Expo is that you were the, I was just about to say the voice of the printers, because we tend, in this industry, to talk to vendors and specialists and celebrities like Deborah and stuff like that. But sometimes it’s good to have the voice of people that actually work in a printing company, isn’t it?
Yes it is. That’s how that whole started, Jamie the Printer in the front row asking all the questions or just making sure all the companies are giving us the correct information, like this guy here in the front row has all your equipment. Is this true? Is it not? Just make sure they’re towing the line and giving us good information and not just embellishing what they can do. So yeah, it started out small and it’s actually been quite fun.
Yeah, I can imagine that. One of the things I find quite interesting with the both of your questions. I have listened into quite a few of your questions. Not all of them because when you’re been three days sitting, eight hours a day listening to all the vendors, I think you have a thick skin and you have a patience that goes beyond normal. Right?
Thank you. Yes you do. For eight hours a day sitting there, yes you do. But there were some interesting conversations, like color management was probably one of the most fun ones to watch. Everybody argued who had the best color solution. It was a good kick so I have to watch that one again.
It’s funny that you mentioned that because the guy I spoke to from Iceland just an hour ago, his name is Inky Carlson, and he has also a background as a printer, and he has turned everything about the color opposite. He said that instead of trying to reach a color gamut, let’s figure out what kind of colors can actually be produced correctly on both, all types of substrates and on screen. So he has made a color swatch book that takes it the opposite approach, which I think from a maybe designer’s perspective should be a relatively easy to adapt to because you have something that looks like a swatch book from Pantone, but now you just have to adapt something that will always be within a gamut of G7 or focus standards. So what do you think of that approach?
It’s kind of interesting, yes because we have customers, we do a lot of color proofs even if we’re printing on acrylic or plastics and we have to match it to cartons, corrugated or litho. So across the board, somebody has a special orange or something, it has to match all the way across. We run into that weekly. So they look at their screen-
So you recognize the problem at least.
Yes. So yeah, that sounds interesting. I’d like to learn a little bit more.
I will send you the link afterwards. But Jamie, one of the things that I’m a little curious about is that when you listen to all these people sitting in the panels of the Printerverse, do you ever kind of catch them in seeing something that, where you know that it’s not the truth?
Not really not the truth, but maybe just embellished a little bit. Yeah, a couple of times. Yeah. And so it’s interesting. A couple of times you’ll kind of flag, and Deborah will look at me and I’ll shake my head like, no, that’s not right. Let’s ask a little deeper question on that one. So yeah, a few times. So then you kind of put them on the spot.
It’s funny because, I don’t know if you’re aware of it, but we have an American on our channel, his name is Diego Diaz from Smartpress, the Bernard group in Chanhassen in the US, and he is about colors and workflow, things like that. And I had a talk with him a couple days ago where I asked him the question, whether the promises from workflow vendors is always aligned with the deliveries. And I guess you can imagine that question wasn’t that easy to answer.
No, I’m sure it’s not. And I love the workflow conversations and we love the workflow that we have. And the one thing I’ve learned from those meetings was once you have your workflow and it works great, that’s something you’ll never go back and change again because of the process it took to get you where you were, nobody’s going to want to do that again. So those guys have a hard job trying to sell that again. So that’s a job I don’t think I would want.
So we jumped directly into Jamie the Printer. can you tell a little bit where you’re working and what kind of company that you are getting all your hands-on knowledge from?
Sure. I am at DMR Graphics. We’re in Conshohocken, Pennsylvania, which is just outside of Philadelphia. We are owned by a company called Allegra Princeton who is our parent company. That’s where we get all our workflow from, all our systems, our accounting, which makes it a lot easier for me and our team that we just come in and we go get to do what we love to do, and it’s all there ready for us to start.
So we run the gamut. Most of the things we do here is screen printing. We have five different screen presses. We just finished our annual jazz festival poster, which has 19 colors on a screen press, one color at a time.
Only 19 colors?
Yes, yes. It’s interesting.
Oh, that’s not a lot, yeah.
So yeah. And we do a lot of clears. We do embellishments with spots and metallics. And then we also do a lot of large format roll printing here. And most of it’s for POP and packaging. And even with all that’s going on right now, this industry is still busy. We are busy five days a week. We have customers that are-
Calling you all the time.
Calling us. We’re doing a lot of quoting and we’re actually prepping packages, getting everything ready for when things start to open up again. So these things won’t be sitting in storage for weeks, a month hopefully. We’ll see. But yeah, it’s all getting printed, ready to go.
And the other fun thing is our New Jersey office, which you know me from over in a Cranberry, our Allegra office does all the direct mail. We do cut sheet digital with Indigo and Ricoh, Heidelbergs, five color Heidelbergs, direct mail, and some large format there as well. So pack out. So we kind of the gamut of the whole thing. Yeah.
And you’re not exaggerating when you say that you pretty much know everything about everything. Right?
No. I wish I did, but I learn something every day still, which is kind of amazing being in this business since 1985. But yeah, from running the presses and getting in the sales side and into the office side, it’s been a big change. But like I said, you still do learn something every day and if not, there’s something wrong.
That’s good. I was just a little bit curious because when you say that you do a poster, that the one that you said that was 19 colors, is that because it is something like an art project where it’s needed to be in 19 colors? Or is it more that the technology and the application require that kind of a levels of colors?
It is an art project. It’s actually a painting. We’ve been doing this project for 18 years now roughly. And it’s painted by an artist. They have several different ones. Then it is broken down in a color house in New York City where they break out all the colors. Sometimes it starts out a little bit CMYK and then adds colors, but we’ll probably run a couple of different blacks, three or four different reds, a couple of different yellows.
This year was totally different. It was all more yellow-driven and orange and had a lot of clouds in it. And we don’t know how many colors it is to start with and I don’t think the separator knows until they start. And when we got to 18 colors, we’re like, we’re done. And we put a special 19th color on a partial run so they could be signed and numbered and all that. So it’s always an interesting process and it starts right around the holidays. We start printing the week of January and it usually takes almost 12 weeks.
Wow. And how big is the print run on a job like that?
It’s just about 13,900 pieces.
Three different papers, canvas, 100% rag, and then like a Mohawk Via paper. So three different sheets and each one through the press, 19 times, roughly quarter million impressions or so, something like that.
Fantastic. And then I saw that you posted something, I think it was on Facebook, maybe a couple of days ago. Was that with that one, because I saw that it was like you’re on a huge flexo press or screen printer. Sorry. And then I saw that it was a huge poster. Was that the one that you were presenting?
Yes, probably, yeah. We showed little glimpses of it as it’s been going along. Like this is color 12. So yeah, we’re going to unveil it. The website you can look at for now, it’s called Art For Now. So they’re for sale. They’re selling them even though Jazz Fest has been pushed back till the fall, it would be going on probably next week. But right now they’re planning on doing a fall, but the posters are for sale. They’re out there and right now they say they’re selling pretty good because this is an annual thing and everybody looks forward to them.
I can imagine that. So you say that you are in sales right now. So looking at the current situation, I understand that you’re busy in the production, but do you also get new orders in right now in this time, or how was that right now?
New orders are coming in daily. Yes. We’re in an unique situation where we do pharma, we do some government work, we do universities, which is the tough one. They’re all shut down, but they’re still planning on doing a few different print projects. But the point of purchase materials and stuff we’re doing, that’s been very busy, lots of quoting. We’re probably bringing in jobs every other day. They’re all set for release sometime in May.
But like I said, they’re getting them all done. They’re getting him prepped to ship, and whether they’re may or June or maybe end of April, they have to be done. So we’re on a short timeline getting everything done just to make sure it’s ready when something does release and they’re allowed to start spreading this out.
So yeah, we find that busy. So I’ve been in touch with customers daily. And I’m reaching out a lot of my customers, just to let them know we’re here, we’re here when you need us. If something comes up, let us know. Most of our customers are working from home. They’ve got a small staff in their plants or wherever doing some of the work. But yeah, so it’s a little bit more difficult, a lot more Zoom and a lot more at Google Hangouts meetings and stuff like that. But yeah, it’s been an interesting month. Philadelphia area shut down around March 16th, so a lot of our customers were closed, but working from home and then the state came down a couple probably a week later. So it kind of hit pretty quick when we weren’t expecting it.
Yeah. One of the things that always positively surprises me is the strength of America, because if you just look like maybe a month ago or two months ago, I think that when the coronavirus was hitting Asia and in Europe the most, Americans were kind of yeah, yeah, but it’s not here yet. And then it hits you so hard by so many casualties and the mortality rates that are so sadly high, and all the things that happens. But it seems that Americans are very good at getting stronger together when you have these kind of crisis. And I think that what you express right now to me is that okay, business has to go on, and the economy has to move on. I also think that from your health authorities side, seems that you have a lot of entity trying to get respirators and cures and vaccines. I mean that really shows the strength of America in my opinion.
Yeah, I do think we were kind of late to the ballgame. We kind of figured, we were listening and watching and knew it was happening, but it didn’t really … All of a sudden in March it was like now everybody stop, social distance, close down. And that hit hard and quick and everybody seems to be following along. So hopefully we’re going to cut the curve down as everybody wants.
But yeah, like you said, the hardest part was respirators, PPE. I know we’ve spent a week, we did a bunch of masks for one of our customers who needed them. We donated material to another customer who was making face masks. We’re trying to do some fabric now. We’re cutting out patterns for face masks and trying to sew them to see if that’s something we can help with. I know a lot of printers in the northeast area have all switched over. Not all, but they have spent some of their time making PPE. And it’s been interesting to watch on social media, how they’ve been doing it and the reaction. Everybody’s been good. I know anything I see online that a printer has done well, I put on there hashtag thank a printer, because it’s nice to see them jumping in and everybody doing their share.
That’s great. And I also refer to it when I spoke to Deborah last week is that I think that Frank Romano also said that, and you mentioned that yourself in the beginning here as well, that print is an essential industry and that’s why you work. That’s why a lot of American printing companies are still operating because packaging health-related products and services needs to be distributed and produced of course. So, I think it’s good that you also hashtag these thank you, because I think that’s … I don’t know if you saw the film I did with Deborah, but we talked a little bit about when can you sell and what is the crisis communication, because when people are in, when they are up here, you can’t really sell. You need to deliver other messages. Right?
And I think that what you just referred to is that you are here, people are here and ready to support both the business and also on a personal level when it’s needed. Yeah. I just wanted to say that.
Yeah, that’s kind of the message I’ve been sending out. We know you’re trying to work from home, trying to do the best you can. We’re here when you need us. Let us know what we can do for you. And so far, it’s been working and we’ve been some good feedback from it.
That’s great. Jamie, doesn’t have to be so sad all of it. So I need to ask you a question as well. In the American printing industry, I know that you are not a voice for the American printing industry, but in your opinion and from your precision, you can receive that you are doing good. Is that the general impression you have of American printing industry, that it’s pretty good these days or how do you see it?
I think this year started off pretty good. I think the last month or so companies, we have our good days. I think the very beginning of this, we had probably one of our best weeks ever when people started working from home. And I was happy. I’m like everybody’s working. But I think everybody wanted to get their purchase orders off their desks and say I’ve got my work done. So then it was hard to try and track down, getting the artwork and getting the approvals. That’s a little slower.
But yeah, we have good days and we have slow days. So it’s up and down. Right now we’re very lucky because we do a wide range of different things. We have a wide range of customers we work with. It’s helping. But I do know other companies that have more niche areas and they’re very slow and it’s up and down. It depends on your market and what you do. So it’s really across the board, at least what I could see here in the northeast.
One of the things that, because as you know, we’re based in Europe, and I was just wondering, maybe you can tell me, is there huge differences from state to state? Is the states that where there are more printing companies? Is like Florida the number one state for print or is there any any places where you have a high density of printing companies and therefore so states that are more depending on our industry?
I know like in the New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York area is a huge area for printers. And actually one of the printers I know who we work with from time to time, they basically just had to shut down and send most of their work to their Chicago plant, because of all the coronavirus, they said they have too many people in their plant. They’re trying to keep offices to less than 20 people or so.
Here where we’re at, everybody splits their shifts. So people are here in the morning, in the middle of the day and at night. So we’re not here all at the same time. I’m usually the only one in the office, but some of the other plants that have a lot more people there. One of them I know just had to shut down. But they’re like, we’re going to send everything in Chicago. I’m like, well, if there’s anything we can do to help you, let us know. And they say, great, thanks for jumping in. But that’s different everywhere. Some of the states, they’re more lenient, letting people work on certain things, and other ones have strictly shut everything down. So it all depends on the Governor.
Yeah. Okay. Yeah, because that is basically a state by state that decides a lot of these things. And I know that some states have actually confined areas right now and they ask people to be home. Right? And some people are more a little reluctant to lock down everything, right?
Sure. Yes. It’s different. Every state’s different. Somebody in Florida last night, just the county is different than the state. I think certain counties have had curfews where other counties don’t. And right around here, I think we’re fine right now. But it could change at any time.
Yeah. Yeah. That’s great. Jamie, will you be at some of the great print shows in America in this autumn? We both have a Brand Print Americas and Printing United obviously. So are you planning on going on either?
I’m planning on going to Printing United right now so hopefully that everything will be fine by the fall. That’s the plan. So yeah, hopefully the shows start back up again in the fall. I know we had a lot of boosts that we were working on for plastics companies and other vendors of ours that are sitting in limbo right now. We started, stopped printing, kind of waiting, so hopefully that can start up again sometime in the summer and then we’d be able to go for the fall. So that’s something to look forward to.
That’s great. We are working with Printing United to broadcast live from the show.
Yeah, hope to see you there.
So yeah, I was just about to say I hope to see you there. Last time when I met you in Dallas, that was just like very briefly because I don’t know why I didn’t expect to see you. Maybe it was because there wasn’t the printer world, like normal.
Yeah, we were shopping, we were shopping when we were there. We spent three days on the floor looking at all kinds of things and we actually purchased a flatbed printer from Swiss Q, which is on its way here now. So [Be are May 00:19:19], which is always a good time to buy large equipment in the middle of a pandemic. But yes, that’s on its way. They’ve been really good for us, so we’re looking forward to getting that in.
Is it your first?
No. This will be our … Let’s see, we have one, two, three. We have four flat beds right now. This will be our fifth flatbed and we’ll probably retire one of them. So yes.
That’s amazing. Jamie, thank you very much for taking time. I know you have a busy day ahead of you, so I appreciate the time that you spent with me and my audience here at INKISH. And also thank you for all your likes and support during the years. Means a great thing to me and my people. I know that for sure. So thank you very much.
Morten, My pleasure. Nice to talk to you. All right. Have a great day.
You too. Bye.