I remember talking to a print boss a few years ago who was retiring and closing down his business, and one of the main reasons, aside from his advancing years, he said, was that he felt the days of the master printer were dead.
He believed that people like him, who viewed printing as a craft rather than an efficiency-driven production process, were from a bygone age and were no longer fit for purpose in the new landscape where print is a commodity and the only way to survive is to ‘stack ’em high and sell ’em cheap’.
This issue’s interviewee, Fenton Smith, has a refreshingly different view.
He thinks there’s definitely a place for craft printers, and it’s not simply in the trendy east end of London or the reserve of manicured beardies with artisan letterpress machines, screen presses and leather aprons. He firmly believes that there’s a market for master printers and ‘craft’ commercial print where the hunt for excellence overrides all other considerations.
Well, almost all – he may be a proud craftsmen, but he also knows he needs to be profitable one. So, it’s fortunate that he’s equally confident that the right clients appreciate and will happily pay for that quality.
And why wouldn’t they.
In every other sphere of manufacturing it’s accepted that you pay for quality, so why should print be any different?