This time of year February is always the most busy time of the year for us at VIP, this is the time when all the major exhibitions take place at the NEC and this year we have attend 3 in 4 weeks spending a total of 11 days at the NEC plus another 3 days setting up our stands so in total half the month has been spent out of the office at shows.
It may sound contradictory but it really is ‘damn’ hard work exhibiting at shows, apart from spending a day setting up and the rigmarole of just getting in and out of the NEC and past the Gestapo door guards ( as they say ‘were here to help you on their ‘T’ shirts …who are they kidding) there’s everything else in the build up making sure you are ready to show with all your literature, stock, and it seems like almost every conceivable type of comsumerable to have to hand in case someone asks you the most obscure questions and you can answer them with a plausible answer and an example of the product. This year seemed even more difficult as we were launching and renaming our new ribbon printing product onto the market and so everything we had been producing for the last 3 years or so had to be changed to fit with all the new logo’s and print material as well as totally revamping the stand to go to the shows.
The great thing about shows for us is it is a great way for us to meet all our customers old and new and keep them upto date of all our new and existing products. Just as a word of advice, exhibiting in 2012 is not for the faint hearted and now more than ever you need deep pockets as the average price to hire a space at the NEC works out at £350 per sq metre + VAT and then on top of that you need to pay for your lights and power ( to sober you up they charge a mere £65 for a strip light and £200 for a power socket) having just come from 3 shows and another 3 more to go this year it works out to be a serious investment, but through practical demonstrations it seems the best way to get people interested in hot foil printing.
It never ceases to amaze me the new and wonderful uses that people come up with for using hot foil printing as a technique . This year moving with the times we have had two customers both wanted to personalise the front covers of Kindle book holders and Ipad covers, where as ten or twenty years ago it of course would have been diary covers. So techniques never seem to die just move on!
As always personalisation still seems to be king, which surprisingly the ability to type set is still in demand from people who don’t want to spend £1000’s upon £1000’s for a computerised system and all they are left with is the relatively cheaper option of hot foil printing onto items, but in this computer age there’s still a place for type . I can categorically say that in the last 18 months the demand for type has never been higher or more popular, which is such a shame as to my knowledge there is no one last surviving maker of type in the country, (with exception of a couple of companies making the expensive Brass Type).
In columns over the years I have spoken a great deal about type and the pros and cons of using it in a modern context. Sadly there is no one making the alloy or Mazak type nowadays and you only have the choice of the Founders type ( a mixture of Lead, Tin and Antimony) mainly intended for letterpress but of course can be used for hot foiling or taking the next step up to Brass which on average is 5 times more expensive, which often means that people rule it out for the cost implications. Where I am trying to go with this , is that what is even more concerning is the fact that people are buying the type to personalise their items, but now sadly there are so few people left that can actually train people or really know how to set type any more as these skills have been lost or the old fashioned typesetters have all but disappeared and are either retired or passed on and give it another generation the skill will be all but gone in its entirety (that’s the price we pay for modern progress and computerisation).
Of course you will have a small band of enthusiasts who will continue on the traditions, but not on a commercial basis. The value of such organisations as the British Printing Society (BPS) must not be lost and passed down to the next generation. As a young boy of 16 I was able to type set whole stories in type, even I now have really lost the skills required and whilst I’m have to show people how to set up limited lines of type and train them with my knowledge , which I seem to be doing more often than not.
So as a final plea to all of the readers who out there knows how to type set and might be willing to train a new generation of type setters and earn a little ‘pin’ money in the process, i would like to know and may be I can put people in touch with you for some training. It would be lovely to think we could find a couple of people up and down the country willing to assist. As always you can contact me on 01905 776730 and ask for David.
Keep pulling those handles