How can print benefit from the booming creative industries?

Max Goldbart
Monday, October 9, 2017

In a recently published review commissioned by the government and headed up by ITV chairman Sir Peter Bazalgette [see boxout], the wide variety of disciplines that make up the creative industries and their contribution to the UK economy was put to task.

The review of a sector that spans the likes of advertising, architecture, design, fashion, publishing and sometimes even software, was glowing. 

In times of strife, with the daily grind of Brexit and the rise of the Labour Party never far away from the front pages, it’s easy to see why senior Conservative ministers seized on the findings of the report. Culture secretary Karen Bradley described the UK’s creative industries as an “economic powerhouse” and stated that the government was committed to removing barriers to its growth, while business secretary Greg Clark weighed in to hail the review’s demonstration of “our world-class talent and expertise in these areas”. 

Tim Lumb, insight and effectiveness director at Out-of-home (OOH) body Outsmart, considers the growing OOH sector to be part of the aforementioned success story, as he points out that OOH advertising spend was up 4.5% in 2016, a “trusted, growing and resilient advertising medium”. He believes the partnership between OOH and print remains vital.

“Advertising’s fortunes tend to mirror the wider economy and consumer confidence, especially consumer spending,” he says. 

“If those conditions become more challenging, then imaginative creativity will become even more important. And as Bazalgette has found, the UK is in good shape to meet that challenge.”

“The UK’s data-driven creative industries are already global leaders at the cutting edge of creativity and innovation,” adds Rachel Aldighieri, managing director of the Direct Marketing Association (DMA), who is adamant that Brexit should not be permitted to stifle the potential opportunities offered by Britain’s creative industries.

“Data-driven marketing is already allowing brands to use print in new ways and better target great creative work. Any growth in available creative talent will only enable more innovative ideas and engaging campaigns to be developed.”

Critical enabler

Unlike marketing and advertising, print may not fall under the remit of the creative sector per se but it is well placed to take advantage of the boom. 

Robert McClements is president of the BPIF’s Creative Digital Industry (CDI) sub-division, formerly CDI Yorkshire, which broadened its focus from Yorkshire to taking a national perspective in August last year. 

The raison d’être of the special interest group, which is manned by McClements and three others, is to focus on developing links between the creative sector and print, offering the support services that the BPIF has traditionally provided to printers and expanding those to include different elements of the creative supply chain, along with running its annual Visual Media Conference. 

“There is a great convergence of industries involved here and I think the Bazalgette report really captures that,” says McClements. 

“Print is a key part of the creative industries. We’ve got to make sure we connect with different parts of the supply chain in the creative industries and in my view it all starts with brand owners. The marketing communications trade involves all those integrated means of communication, which means print is a central part.”

McClements is keen on the report’s focus on geographical clusters, breaking up the country into regions where creative ties between universities and companies will be forged and funded. Areas such as Cambridge’s St John’s Innovation Park bring together university R&D departments with innovative companies, such as Xaar, Domino Printing Sciences and Industrial Inkjet. 

Warrington-based hot-foil specialist Foilco mainly serves clients in the graphical sector and keeps a close eye on happenings in the creative industries, also hosting its own event, Multiplicity, which sees it visit different cities to engage with local design communities.

Multiplicity is intended to break down the “invisible barriers” between Foilco and the creative community, according to sales director Matt Hornby, and features talks from well-known designers. It typically attracts between 100 to 250 guests and has so far visited three UK cities, with Manchester next on the list.

Elsewhere, Orphans Press is a company that fully combines the two under one roof, doubling up as both a printer and publishing house. Helen Bowden, managing director of the 144-year-old outfit, decided to take her first step into publishing in November 2015 when she took on a printing job for a book about Quakers [Orphans’ founder Henry Stanley Newman was a Quaker] and turned it into a self-publishing job. 

“Publishing was part of the business 100 years ago and we’ve returned to it as we’ve always retained a good level of book work,” says Bowden, who has recently added a publishing specialist to the Orphans’ payroll. 

“Print and publishing are tied at the hip; the economics needs to stack up. We need the book to be well edited and we can provide this.”

With its site tucked away in rural Herefordshire, Bowden, who acquired the business 20 years ago along with her husband Andy Bowden, highlights Bazalgette’s stress on looking to develop the creative sector in clusters outside of London and the South East. 

“We were a tiny print business in a rural setting. Our strategy has been to use creativity – design and marketing – as the hub of what we do. This creative work feeds our production, print and website development,” she adds. 

Reflecting on positive examples like Orphans and Foilco, McClements now wants to use the CDI to encourage the relationship between print and the creative sector to go beyond “the early adopters who’ve been doing it for some time”.

“This is really the potential to be engaged in creativity in its broadest sense, and why not?” he asks.

“It’s not every printer, not every agency and that’s what we’re trying to realise, that the potential is there to think of the bigger picture.”

The Bazalgette Review unpacked

The review of the sector carried out by the chairman of ITV found it to be continuing to outperform others, with 300,000 jobs created between 2011 and 2015 and £87.4bn in gross value added contributed to the UK economy in 2015, making up around 5.3% of the economy as a whole. 

Dubbed by Bazalgette as Britain’s fastest-growing sector, the UK’s creative industries are predicted to be worth £128.4bn to the UK economy by 2025, with the potential to create up to a million new jobs.

The report also found the sector to be highly resistant to automation, with 87% of creative workers at low or no risk. 

While the review’s findings and recommendations are currently being considered, £80m has already been made availalble for the Creative Industries Clusters Programme, led by the Arts and Humanities Research Council.

This programme is set to identify eight geographical clusters and help tie universities with creative companies in each cluster. 



Government must protect and nurture UK creativity

kampfnerJohn Kampfner, chief executive, Creative Industries Federation 

The creative industries have been the fastest growing part of the UK economy since the 2008 crash, worth £87.4bn to the economy – more than the automotive industry, oil and gas, aerospace and life sciences combined. This is not down to talent alone. British success has been built on foundations including our education institutions, tax credits and public investment in the arts. Other countries have recognised that this is an expanding sector and are following suit, so the UK government’s recognition for the creative industries matters.

We worked with Sir Peter and welcome his recommendations. The review identifies important factors for continued growth, including the need to nurture and attract talent and the importance of protecting intellectual property (IP) rights. Yet government strategies for growth are not currently joined up with its plans for Brexit. Leaving the EU presents major challenges to the creative industries, the sector is heavily reliant on international workers and the end of freedom of movement will have a huge impact. The UK must develop an immigration system that enables us to access global talent. It also means we will have to work harder to provide our own workforce with the skills the sector needs. The serious decline in the take-up of creative subjects in schools is a threat to the skills pipeline. This is why Sir Peter backed the Federation’s idea for a creative careers campaign to inform the next generation about potential careers. On top of the IP and talent challenges, there are further hurdles in Brexit. For example, the EU is the biggest export market for our creative goods and services. The creative industries have never been included in an industrial strategy before but such a strategy is one way of producing a coherent response to these challenges and the Bazalgette review offers a raft of proposals for action. Together they make sense. The danger is if the government cherrypicks the easy deliverables without tackling core problems. We hope it will not. 


How is print faring in relation to the creative industries?

congreveGraham Congreve, director, Evolution Print 

“We at Evolution have an interest in the creative industries. Although it’s not all the work we do, some of the creatives that we work with really appreciate the way we are passionate about what we do for them. We’ve got to address this UK-wide. There are lots of grey suits and polyester in printing now – you can feel all the static when you walk in – and creatives don’t like man-made fibres, they are looking for something different and broadly speaking, print in the UK is not that.”

mcmornSarah McMorn, managing director, Fantasy Prints

“Personally, from what I see and what I read in magazines it seems to me that there is a real demand for large-format printing in the creative sector. We are also a graphic designer and we prefer to have designers on board that already have customers and business and know exactly how files and artwork can be sent and readied for pre-press. It makes our life so much easier, they understand the products, the print and the substrates and can make a decision early on about what a final product will look like.”

attwaterMark Attwater, director, Direct Colour 

“In order for the print sector to link up more effectively with the creative sector there needs to be more understanding from creatives of what’s involved in print, particularly with youngsters. There is certainly a misconception in the creative industries that you just touch a button and folders appear at the other end, foil blocked or miraculously hand-finished. There’s a disconnect with a lot of creative agencies and the printers they use; what they see on screen is not necessarily what they are going to get tangibly.” 


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