Hey guys today is National Ohio Day and the best way to celebrate that is to spotlight one of our customers that just so happens to be from there. Let's get to it and talk to Malcolm.
Screen Print Direct: Hey what’s up Malcolm, so straight to it, why did you start printing?
Malcolm: I've always wanted to get paid to be creative. I’ve been drawing and doing creative things since I was a kid and loved anything that allowed me to be creative. That’s where it really starts. Later, I started doing graphic design. After that, I started screen printing. And eventually, I combined the two worlds.
I attended an interactive multimedia class in high school (2006) which was my introduction to graphic design. I flunked the class due to my rebellious nature, failing to see the long-term benefits of capitalizing from commercial art and creativity.
I graduated high school in 2007, partied a bunch (too much actually) and worked dead end jobs at factories, restaurants, etc. Life was not fun. At this time I was using Speedball screens to print patches and shirts for personal use and for friends bands out of the attic.
Eventually, I went back to school in 2016 majoring in graphic design. While taking classes, I was doing freelance design (logos, page layout, illustrations, etc.) My clients were more and more frequently asking if I knew anyone that did t-shirts & apparel. I became the middleman between the client and the shirt printer (usually a friend.) An instructor ended up gifting me his 4-color one station press, and I started offering screen printing as a service as well as design. I was working part-time at a restaurant while all of this was going on and at a print shop after that.
The period of time I was working dead-end part time jobs proved to be largely motivational in my pursuit of education and freelance. I quit working at the print shop in September of 2019 and focused solely on design and screen printing. I was finally getting paid to be creative.
It was difficult at first to be modest and still is at times. But I stayed focused, and even today, I always remember how working in those dead-end jobs made me feel. Since I’ve been operating and developing my business, there have been ups and there have been downs. It’s always a learning process and staying active, aware, and willing to try new things has allowed me to keep growing slowly but surely.
Recently, I’ve upgraded to a 6-color 6-station press which has dramatically reduced turn-around times and increased productivity. This has allowed me to balance design and printing more evenly and efficiently, I’m constantly looking forward towards new horizons.
Screen Print Direct: Dude that’s really cool. I feel like a lot of printers have been where you were at some point in time with working dead end jobs and finally digging deep enough to get their own thing started. Might be small but it's your own. Now getting a free 4 color press, that’s a big-time score. Good for you man.
Screen Print Direct: So when it comes to running your own little operation, what really matters to you? Quality, quantity, consistency, or costumer service?
Malcolm: Finding balance between quality and quantity is what matters most to me concerning my operation. Ultimately, things need to move and time is highly valuable. But moving garbage just for the sake of moving something is not admirable or practical either. In ANY situation, if the client is paying for a product/service, and said product/service is not desirable and has no value to it... then it’s all irrelevant and does not warrant growth or success. I don’t want to spend 4 hours on 20 prints, but also don’t want to rush through orders so they look like trash.
How quickly I can move high quality deliverables is what matters right now. Looking forward, I plan on completely maximizing the Eco-friendly aspect of printing.
Screen Print Direct: Makes sense and I know that small quantity isn’t always what printers want but it is a starting point.
Screen Print Direct: So do you have anyone that you look up to for inspiration?
Malcolm: Cam Earven of Monument Limited, out of Phoenix, Arizona is super dope. I definitely nerded out and watched like every YouTube vid he’s posted. Lol. Especially when I was starting out.
His branding is consistent and on point, his vids are straight to the point and edited in a super digestible way, and he’s open and transparent about what he does... there’s a lot to be said about him and his business. The Print Life community he’s developed on Facebook is super helpful as well.
Screen Print Direct: That’s cool man we haven’t had anyone bring him up before. We know about him and his shop but that’s cool he is someone you look up to for help and advice.
Screen Print Direct: Do you have anything that’s made a job go sideways or customers that weren’t satisfied with their job?
Malcolm: Haha, so far, I’ve been in a few pinches regarding either printing or orders in general. And I’m positive there will be more to follow. Life happens. I’ll list a few so far though:
- Over/under exposing on the last screen available, while on a deadline
- Having exact amounts of apparel and printing the back on the front & vice versa
- Difficult customers ordering the minimum amount of apparel (big time waster)
- Wrong prints on wrong apparel order
- Not enough spray tack on pallets/ image shifting
- Ink not cured
- Low-balling myself
In any case, again, the customer is the most important thing. The remedy is to correct my wrongs and make them happy. However, not every person is worth the headache. Everything is a learning experience. I just have to take note and make the adjustments.
Screen Print Direct: Those are pretty good ones. It’s that one topic no one really likes to talk about since no one wants to admit mistakes or look like they are worse at printing than another shop. All in all it’s a normal human thing to make mistakes and I think a lot and I mean a lot of printers have had that one last screen left that they messed up by accident. I print myself, I’ve been there and it’s scary haha
Screen Print Direct: How about goal wise in the next couple of years coming up? What are you looking forward to seeing out of your business?
Malcolm: Over the next couple/several years, I plan on taking the necessary steps to having a dedicated building that I work out of, among other things:
- Building space split for marketing/graphic design and screen printing
- Possibly expanding to embroidery
- A crew of artists, printers, web coders + designers, videographers + photographers, audio engineers for recording artists
- An automatic press
- Clothing line established
- Streamline everything business and operations-wise
There’s definitely plenty of work to do.
Screen Print Direct: Those are some good and ambitious goals you set out for yourself. Keep in touch man we would love to see that plan put into motion.
Screen Print Direct: Alright man we are about to wrap things up any last words for the newbies out there?
- Expect to make mistakes, it’s ok. Keep it moving!
- Use what’s available, test the waters. Don’t go all in until you get a feel for it. Gradually upgrade.
- ”Failures” are a good thing. Learn from mistakes. and move on.
- Ask questions, get informed.
- The only way to get better is to physically print something.
- We’re all newcomers on different levels.
- Know your worth once you get rolling. Don’t settle for less when you know you’re worth more.
- It’s ok to say “No” sometimes.
- Watch videos, read something, and try something new.
- Keep Printing!
To Check out Malcolm and his work find him @malcolmbellew on the gram!