Interview: People of Print’s Marcroy Smith

People of Print provide a daily dose of inspiration for creatives all around the world.

Marcroy Smith launched People of Print whilst still at university in 2008. Since then the company has worked with a host of big names in design as well as championing fresh talent with schemes such as their graduate awards.

Earlier this year, they released the first issue of their own magazine Print Isn’t Dead and just last week they launched a brand new Kickstarter campaign to fund the second issue. The magazine brings together and expands upon what can be found on their blog with a mix of interview, lists, articles and examples of print-based design.

With excitement building for the second issue, and the release of their first book next year, we couldn’t wait to talk to the company’s founder Marcroy Smith and find out more about the intricacies of running this global platform.

Hi Marcroy! Can you tell us a bit about People of Print and how it began.

People of Print is a global consortium of different print-orientated ideas and entities with a central hub based in East London. It started as a very simple website in 2008, my final year of University at Brighton, which acted as a gridded list of bookmarks for all of my favourite designers, illustrators and printmakers.

I worked in Brooklyn for a while and upon my return,I had a mailbox full of prints, books and other goodies from people wanting to be added to the website.

This inspired me to curate a series of exhibitions and workshops in London, New York, Paris, Berlin and Bristol, and also gave me a reason to develop the website into something more than a list of links. In 2011, we turned the homepage of the website into a blog, which we update on a daily basis, this has seen a huge rise in our web traffic. Our original homepage is now known as the directory, I personally select who goes onto there. We are multifaceted in the sense that we select our team according to the brief so that we get it done right – we have a team of trusted printers, covering litho, screen print, digital, letterpress and riso. We have different teams for design, marketing, development and production.

Your team is based in an office in London. What is a typical day like for you?

Our office is very fun, we have a great bunch of people who are all super talented in many different ways. We basically hit the office and do what needs to be done. The current things-to-do list doesn’t quite fit on the whiteboard, we are so busy but we like it that way. We break the day up with stupid youtube videos and I always get told off for playing Slayer.

We recently read the first issue of your new magazine – Print Isn’t Dead – and loved it! How did you choose the content for the issue?

Element 001 happened quite naturally because we had so much unpublished content ready to go, alongside extra ideas that we wanted to include. It was all about maximising the amount of content that we could fit into an issue with 80 pages. There was no underlying theme and the biggest article only spanned 6 pages. Element 002 is going to be slightly different, we are looking at printing 128 pages and having more a theme run throughout the issue.

How long had the magazine been in the works before it was made? And how exciting was it to finally have your first ever printed publication produced?

We have been looking at publishing a book or magazine for a very long time. The printing quotes for producing a small run of hardback books were in the region of £16000+ which is why we approached a publisher to produce our upcoming book.

All I can say is that creating a self-published magazine is a lot more rewarding and you have so much freedom – there are absolutely no restrictions when you do it yourself so long as you have the funding and backing of your audience.

We are so thankful that our audience admire what we do. It will be very interesting to see the future of established publishing houses in the next 5-10 years, I get a feeling that things will change drastically and they will become redundant because people can do it themselves now, cutting out the middle man.

You recently launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise money for issue two of the magazine. What can we expect from the second helping?

Expect some counter-culture stuff like OZ Magazine and Suicide Girls, beautiful prints and patterns by Vans and Liberty, alongside lots more inspirational and insightful content into the lesser known creative and industrious print world.

You mentioned your upcoming book, due to be released next year. Can you tell us a bit more about that?

The book is titled ‘People of Print’ and is published by Thames & Hudson. It’s a 336 page hardback coffee table type book which features 50 incredible print-based designers alongside some thought provoking mini-essays about the future of print, our directory and a bunch of interviews for good measure.

Which creatives have impressed you recently? Any projects in particular?

I always love the work of Heretic, their Spectral Nation stuff is mind-blowing. To list a few others, Dan Mather is the bees knees, I always keep track of what Eye Magazine are doing, Ben Rider from Print Club London is showing people how it’s done, Risotto have really impressed me, Wrap Magazine are top notch, Build always create the most beautiful and precise work and finally Jim O’Raw is doing lots of fresh things with Bridge Unltd clothing.

You have collaborated with a number of creatives in the past few years. Who would you like to work with in future?

We will work with anyone, so long as we like the brief.

People of Print started in 2008. How has the industry changes since then?

Screen printing became popular again, then Riso took over because it was cheaper for all of the young broke students to create something that looks similar in terms of overlaying individual colours. Now I feel that people are really taking an interest in quality, independent mags are on the rise. Styles and trend obviously fluctuate and change but its very hard to comment on it as a whole.

What’s next for People of Print?

We have some very exciting things lined up. A project called ‘World’ is in the pipeline, watch this space. Our Department Store is growing as we speak and we will be looking at doing live shops with workshops etc.

And finally, what is it you love so much about print? In a nutshell, why must we strive to keep print alive?

I think print and digital will continue to have a long and happy coexistence. They are like brother and sister.



Posted on Nov 4th, 14 by

Greg McIndoe - also known as Headless Greg - is an illustrator and design writer based in Glasgow, Scotland. He regularly writes for design magazines and online platforms, interviewing fellow illustrators and leading creatives.

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