5:01 PST. Printing Processes and Designer Difficulties

photo by John Judy.

David Mayes is proud to be a CMYK guy in an RGB world. He’s in sales – and community outreach – at Typecraft Wood & Jones. This Pasadena, CA company has roots dating back to 1907 and a reputation for handling the most demanding designers.

Clients range from universities and non-profits to museums and fine art institutions. Lately, the Pacific Standard Time program has been keeping TW&J hopping. The  limited edition box for PST’s Speaking in Tongues exhibition at Pasadena’s Armory Center is particularly noteworthy: the package was designed by Lorraine Wild’s Green Dragon Office, and includes 38 custom prints of works by Wallace Berman and Robert Heinecken. You can find my recent interview with the show’s curators here and here.

David trained as a print stripper at L.A.’s Trade Tech, where he learned how to shoot film negatives and make brownline proofs and plates. And he’s just as passionate about art and design as he is about technology: I see him regularly at gallery openings as well as AIGA’s local and national events. He also generously contributes his time and resources to Art Center and other schools in the area. Here’s a conversation we recently had about his employer’s operation.

David Mayes in his office. Photo by Agustín Garza.

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Michael Dooley: Could you walk me through your process with the Speaking in Tongues catalog?
David Mayes: That project was fun to work on because of the great relationship we have with both Green Dragon and the Armory. There were some challenges in getting the scope of the book settled, and it took a few rounds of estimating to find the right paper and page count to accomplish what the client wanted. Haruna Madono from Green Dragon and the curators, Claudia Bohn-Spector and Sam Mellon, came on press to see as we printed, and that went very smoothly. We bound the book, and the rest of the assembly – placing the color plates and book in the box – was done by the Armory.

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What about other recent projects?
We had the opportunity to work with Stefan Bucher and 344 Design on a book for Lynda.com. It was printed on the Indigo digital press in a run of 500 with a coptic stitch binding. This was particularly challenging because a great amount of advance time was spent looking at cloth materials for the cover and the lining as well as the slip case. The binding was originally intended to have exposed edges of paper on the spine, but that proved too loose on the test samples we made so we reinforced the binding before sewing it. This has to be one of the most complex pieces we’ve printed.

Photo by Jason Ware.

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Typecraft has also been known to aid and abet political radicals; what can you tell me about your dealings with Robbie Conal?
Typecraft’s connection to Robbie goes back to 1990 when our president, Harry Montgomery, was happy to work with him printing Artificial Art Official. In the process of working with Robbie, we were able to work with Shepard and Mear One on a triptych they did for the 2004 election. Robbie describes Harry as a printer who wasn’t afraid to print the posters, and we continue doing so to this day. The most recent one was a diptych with Bugger Off and Wealth Care.

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How did Typecraft become the go-to resource for designers?
We’ve had decades of experience with art catalogs for galleries, museums, auction houses, and schools. This expertise in color reproduction has naturally led to a strong connection with the design community.

We developed a partnership with AIGA/LA in 2002 to be the Annual Print Sponsor. This relationship makes it easier for the chapter to handle their print needs by not having to find a new printer each time they needed a print donation.

Typecraft has also worked with the major design education programs in the area for about 35 years. You could say there are generations of Los Angeles designers who’ve learned about printing with Typecraft. I love meeting seasoned designers who tell me they toured the plant or printed with us in the 1970s.

I think that we’ve also been successful with the design community because we’ve been an early adopter of new technologies like computer-to-plate. We’ve been able to be more than just another printer. We’ve been able to truly partner with designers in creating the pieces.

Six color split fountain. Photo by David Mayes.

Photo by Eric Mathias.

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