The location you choose to set up shop has a big influence on the printing jobs you’ll churn out. Your prints can be a reflection of your city’s long-standing history and culture, or the direct product of the events and business that are haute in your hood. Adam of Luckyprints, who lives and works in Chicago, can thank its humble and old-school culture for bringing him unique printing jobs. Today, he talks to us about how he prints for the city he knows best and how you can also benefit from embracing your local community.
How are the prints you do unique to working in Chicago?
In terms of what is unique to Chicago, I would say a lot of the culture here in Chicago has a more wholesome side. Everyone likes to be comfortable, but in a cultural sense. The midwestern roots are deeply embedded in the Chicago culture. A lot of things around the history and culture play a role in what we do. A lot of the things that we've seen here with our brewery and restaurant clients is that everybody wants to have this connection to the midwest farmer roots. It's a weird thing to see in a big city like this. Especially when people are spinning that into a more modern streetwear apparel aesthetic. It's one thing we see, especially with the craft food and beverage industry. They're finding ways to adapt their roots as a traditional industry, in a way that connects them with their geographic location.
You talk about the agricultural roots that make printing in Chicago unique. Could you give an example of how you managed to honor these roots in your printing?
We worked with a company called Stock Manufacturing, which is a bespoke menswear company. They were working with a large oil and gas company that was reintroducing a brand that had been out of the market for a few decades. The brand had been gone for a while but still has a household name and a certain generation will remember it from their childhood. We worked with Stock Manufacturing to take an in-house developed printing method and match it to the garment that they were making. The garment itself had a very old-school aesthetic. Their goal was to make something that looked like what a service station attendant would have been wearing in the 50s/60s. We actually used a few different products and printing techniques to make the printing aesthetic match that.
Do you have a common client in your city, and how do you approach each one to make them different?
A lot of beer brewing goes on here. Depending on where the brewery is, it can attract very different markets. We’ll often go and meet them to try to understand their demographics. We have breweries in suburban areas that attract an age range that tends to fall about 7-10 years older than a lot of breweries that are more in the urban areas of Chicago. We really try to work with the breweries to understand the trends that they’re seeing, what people are buying off of their shelves, and also really to understand the people coming in and out of their door. That way, we can really understand who their customer is and help them make decisions based on that kind of information - instead of basing it on what they think looks good on their shelves.
How would you advise other screen printers to start benefiting from opportunities that are unique to their city?
Be present, be visible. Don’t rely on being an online company. Getting ground level when you can is going to open you up to a lot more casual conversation with your community. You may talk to people and get ideas, but never end up doing business with them - but they might tip you to others, who you can partner up with. Put yourself out there and be open to conversation with your community.
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