A Chat with Jamie McLennan
This week’s Printer Profile has bragging rights to the #1 spot on Klout for printers, has been involved in print since high school, and currently works for The Seibel Group. If you don’t know who we’re talking about, let us introduce you to Jamie McLennan. Jamie is known for enhancing online communities and making people feel welcome. Recently Tarragon and Chelsea had a chance to do a Twinterview with him and get a different perspective on the print industry. Here is what he had to say.
So how did you get started in print?
I started in high school print shop. I had a great teacher who told us this is not woodshop, so leave if you think this will be an easy A. I learned everything from layout, gallies, darkroom, stripping, to running AB dick presses.
That’s awesome. So did you work for the HS newspaper or something like that?
No, but as a senior I was in print class four classes a day. We printed everything for the school that we could. We had lunch in print class, and every free period my teacher had my schedule changed to his class.
What interested you in the class in the first place?
I was told we would do silk screening and other cool stuff so I took the class. I liked to draw, so I signed up. The class was much more then I thought it would be and I loved learning all about print.
(T) I remember silk screening in high school art class.
(C) I never took art but I don’t remember the students who did getting to do silk screening.
(T) So I would assume the love of print started in high school?
We had a class where we learned silk screening, block printing, and more. We also got to draw a lot. So the next year, I took print.
Are these classes still offered or has budget cuts destroyed print in schools?
The print class is still there but not the same teacher, they’ve since retired. I’d have to see if the class is still the same or not.
So moving from there, what was your major in college if you knew you loved print?
College? I went right into print. I walked into a print shop over the summer and asked if they needed a pressman. They said they would call me that night. I waited until nine pm but they didn’t call. So I went back next day to ask why and they hired me on the spot.
(C) That’s amazing. Good for you for being so proactive.
(T) Do you think high school is too late to introduce print as a career?
High school is a good time to introduce print. My brother was three years younger and took the same class, then went to RIT and on into pre-press. I had about five friends all take this class and all ended up in print as well.
Sandy Hubbard said something similar, that you have to recruit people young.
I think you do. Most kids today don’t think about it, it’s not cool enough for them.
Don’t you think if kids where made aware of all the awesome things about print today, it would be cool enough? What do you love about print? I am amazed and blown away and I have only scratched the surface.
I do think they need to know that print is more then ink on paper. What do I love about print? It is something new everyday. I love showing clients what they can do to create new ideas.
There certainly are many innovative things in the print industry today. I had no idea, you and Sandy and Cam have been enlightening for sure! How have you seen print change over the years?
Since I got into print, there have been many many changes. We used to have mechanicals, darkrooms, stripping film, and burning plates. We had zip drives and disks, now files are sent via FTP sites, and presses are now direct to plate. No more bluelines or matchprints, just color proofs and PDFs. From offset to digital, the turn around times are much shorter now. It keeps you moving now with digital and variable and integrating QR codes and augmented reality. There are many cool ideas still coming down the road. Digital presses are getting larger, too.
It sounds like that would allow you to complete jobs much faster than before.
Yes, turnaround times are much shorter. Jobs are completed in days, sometimes in a matter of hours, instead of eight to ten days. It depends on the project size and binding options but overall is much faster.
What do you miss about the old ways of print? What do you love about the new?
As for the old ways, I think typesetting was more of an art and the type was cleaner. I was a pressman first, so I loved offset. In the early days of digital print, offset looked much better. Now, digital has come a long way. A good “digital” design looks great on the new presses and is much quicker as well.
Tell me about the company you are working for now.
The Seibel Group is a great offset and digital shop. People come in early and stay late. We provide excellent quality, service, and turn times. We put the clients first and look out for the details. Everyone is very hands on. It’s a great feeling to know you have good people taking care of your projects.
What is your role there?
My role is now sales. I got into sales in the early 90’s while also running presses. I help with bindery and collating on rush jobs when needed. But I am out on the road about half the day visiting people.
I imagine your passion for print helps your sales.
It does. In early days clients came to press checks and I was a pressman. They loved it. I still have some of the same clients today. Being able to talk about the paper and ink and knowing how it will look is a big benefit.
That seems to be a theme in print, needing to learn the tangible to accurately do digital.
That is true.
So what do you see as the future of print?
I think you need a print futurist for this. 🙂
Haha, you might be right. I did discuss this a lot with Sandy Hubbard.
From what I see, more print will go digital. Our digital business grows each year with more VDP.
I have also seen some interest in nice papers again, not just coated stocks. I’m not sure if this trend will continue to grow.
I’m going to show my ignorance and ask what is VDP?
Anytime you have questions, just ask. VDP stands for variable data print, or personalized printing. A few clients slow to use this but there is still plenty of room to grow. Sometimes I like to use examples to encourage clients to personalize their materials, though some still like to just print and mail to a general audience.
Thanks! I’m in the marketing side over here so print is a relatively new field for me. So far I’ve had great teachers! Have you noticed any changes or shifts in the industry related to the recession?
Yes, for the most part I’ve seen smaller print runs and more digital. People are also doing more targeted mailings with less expansive paper choices.
That makes sense, streamlining the process to be more efficient. Have you seen an increase in environmental initiatives or a push for local businesses?
Recycled paper is still big but not as big as it was. Local is starting to get more traction here in New Jersey. We’ve been printing a few things for local restaurants farm fresh. Seems print is not as big to go local yet. I am big on local and love shopping small family-owned stores and local restaurants. I help where I can.
I’m big on local as well. That’s partly why I like this company, we started as a small family-owned company.
I have only worked for family-owned print companies; I like the atmosphere.
Awesome. Well I think I am about out of questions… and time. Anything you would like to add?
Thanks for thinking of me for this Twinterview. Keep on printing to #HelpPrintThrive.