Damn Fine Print
How one of Dublin's best known print studios set up shop, and why.
11th April 2016
In the 4 short years that Damn Fine Print have been around they have have become a stalwart in the Dublin arts community.
They created an outlet for people interested in print making but had no access to facilities. They encouraged people who were interested but afraid to ask to get involved.
We went to visit co-founder Kim Willoughby in their studio in an old wool warehouse right where Smithfield meets Stoneybatter, as she was getting ready for Will St Leger’s show. We asked them how Damn Fine Print came about and what challenges they face in an era where art spaces are getting the squeeze from property developers.
We initially just wanted to do it for ourselves but we got the feeling there was demand
Tell us a bit about yourself and how you ended up with Damn Fine Print.
Kim Willoughby, 35 from Waterford. I hold a Post Graduate Diploma in Creative Advertising from DIT and an Honours degree in Multi Media.
I developed passion and curiosity for engaging creative arts and all things print working in a number of organisations, from graphic design studios, street theatre to hardcore daily tabloids before I co-founded Damn Fine Print.
How did Damn Fine Print come about?
I met Eric Greene and Alex Pacheco on an advanced screenprinting course back in 2012.
We shared a passion for printing and decided we would find a space were we could print together. We initially just wanted to do it for ourselves but we got the feeling there was demand for a non committal access to print workspace, so we looked at the idea of starting a pay as you go membership pass facility.
Our generation are stuck on computers all day
Thats a bit of a jump from wanting your own space to setting up a business essentially! After the initial startup, was there a point where you thought “yeah this could work”?
We tentativley organised a fundraiser in our first year where we asked our network of illustrators and designers to contribute a piece of art with a Dublin theme which we then screen printed and sold.
We we’re amazed at the level of support we received, both with contributions from artists and importantly, sales!
I believe one of the effects of the recession was an emergence of a real DIY attitude and awareness of this format of art. Our generation are stuck on computers all day which has fostered a real fascination, appetite and appreciation for physical, hands-on arts and crafts.
This awareness is becoming more mainstream too with the likes of Guinness, Jameson, Absolut, commissioning us to bring our live screenprinting service to their events.
it can be hard for people to fully comprehend what's involved
What challenges do you face running a print studio?
'If only there were more hours in the day' is something I say regularly. When you run your own business resourses and time are always limited.
Another challenge we face is pricing our work and communicating how labour intensive it is. We live in a world where digital printing is so accessible and cheap that it can be hard for people to fully comprehend what's involved with screen printing. Our pricing reflects that our work is done entirely by hand. We even mix colours by eye and spend time with each artist or client to achieve achieve the best results for the artwork in process.
The cost of materials, compared to how much they cost on mainland Europe, especially for paper and inks, is also crazy!
How can people get involved with Damn Fine Print?
They can try their hand at printing with one of of courses. We run 4 week beginner courses monthly that takes you through the fundamentals of screenprint process.
We also run 1 day tshirt and tote bag coures. Or you wish to try out the studio you can buy a studio pass, we offer 1 day/ weekly/ montly and annual membership
How does your location influence what you do?
It’s really important for us to be located near like minded creatives and Smithfield/Stoneybatter is a hive of creativity which definitely influences our spirit.
There’s always someone to bouce ideas off. Plus our yoga neighbours in The Elbow Room keep us nourished and calm!