The Print Ink Co – From Nothing Came Something
Back in 2011 a few of us decided to start a skateboard company. We were all life long skateboarders ranging in age from 23 up to 40 years old and it all seemed to come together at the right time. A large part of the company was high quality branded clothing and we quickly discovered how expensive it was to have this produced for us, having our garments screenprinted, labels stitched in etc. We decided the best option was to learn how to screenprint ourselves, cut down the costs on other people doing everything for us and get our hands dirty.
An early shot from our basement studio space.
We bought our first carousel and basic kit from Wicked Printing Stuff and we got down to the serious task of learning how to screen print. That’s when we realised why it cost so much to get other companies to do it for us – screen printing isn’t an easy thing! After months of practicing and doing our own one or two colour prints (out of a basement studio room) we started to get to a level where we were happy with the quality of our own work but we needed some more tuition on the finer elements of screenprinting. We enrolled on a course at the Leicester Print Workshop which was invaluable. We found out about how to register four colour prints, four colour process work, creating high detail half tones and more.
A water based print onto cotton t-shirts for our brand
After a few more months of learning on under our own steam we felt we were ready to expand and start our own screen printing business and we registered our company, The Print Ink Co Ltd. We started doing a few small jobs for other small brands within the skateboarding world and managed to get some work printing clothing for a few of the skateboard shops in the UK. Meanwhile our skateboard brand was starting to take a nosedive and one of us was made redundant from our day job so we began to focus on printing solely for others and really pushing our business.
A three colour print run for one of our customers
As we started to pick up more work via word of mouth and lots of phone calls we realised it was time to expand and get ourselves a bigger work space. We rented our current premises in April 2014 and bought ourselves a load more equipment so we could up our game. We bought a better tunnel dryer, a beautiful Workhorse Odyssey Exposure unit, another carousel and ton more screens and we were good to go.
Our current studio set up
We are currently getting steady, interesting work from a variety of clients and we can confidently call ourselves ‘real’ screen printers now. We are learning new things everyday and that is part of the fun of the work…..there is always something new to do or to master. We just bought our first vacuum table and have started to take on work doing art prints onto card and paper which is a lot of fun and incredibly satisfying. I don’t think we will ever get rich from hand screen printing, but as we grow and learn we are able to support ourselves and the business and after the first six months in our new studio that’s currently where we are happy to be.
A three colour print process
If you want something to look good then you have to work hard to make sure that it IS good. We take pride in what we do and what we have learnt over the last few years. It has been a case of one step forward and two steps back at time, but the screen printing community is a pretty friendly place. We have met and become good friends with a number of other printers and there are always tips to share with one another, whether it be on exposure methods, types of ink, off contact or the best garment and ink to use on a particular job. Wicked Printing have always been supportive of us from the beginning and we regularly use them for our inks, equipment and advice.
Screen printing is a labor of love. It takes time, patience and you are guaranteed to lose your mind trying to get an image perfect. From illustration to digital colour seperation to screen set up, to print, there is a lot to perfect and a lot that can go wrong but that is all part of the joy of it. We don’t aim to stop anytime soon, this is exactly where we want to be.
The Print Ink Co
Fairway, London Road
tel: 01777 237118