What Austyn Thorp, a print consultant for JPS Limited, doesn’t know about the print industry simply isn’t worth knowing. A technical and colour specialist and self-confessed perfectionist, Austyn travels the length of breadth of the UK and abroad to ensure each and every print project for JPS Limited’s clients is carried out with precision, expertise and care. Learn in our latest interview for Profile how Austyn achieves this, why his cat would be one of the items he’d take to a desert island and why he thinks a print factory sit-com is long overdue…
Q: Briefly describe your role with JPS Limited, and how it supports the team, delivers to the customers etc?
Primarily I perform a quality control role for JPS. I attend a variety of sites both in the UK and abroad, usually when a job is being produced, and carry out a series of quality checks.
My main focus is colour reproduction – accuracy and consistency.
Using a set of proofs approved by the client as a standard, I’ll make any necessary adjustments while the job prints to get the best results possible. This ensures the finished product meets expectations in terms of the processes involved before actual ink on paper – photography, retouch, repro and make-up.
I also offer technical assistance pre and post production in a bid for continuous improvement, as well as meeting with customers and helping them gain a better understanding of the various processes involved.
Q: How did you end up in printing/print production?
A: I didn’t really end up in printing, I kind of started out in it!
After finishing university, and finding myself more than a little directionless, a family friend invited me to see his artwork/plate making business, which was attached to a small offset printer in South Manchester.
I visited on the Sunday, started work there on the Monday. I’d found a home.
This was more than 30 years ago, and I very quickly realised that the various pre-press and print procedures involved suited my nature perfectly.
Q: What’s the strangest print job you’ve been involved with?
A: Well, over the years I’ve worked on fairly much everything print related you could imagine, and nothing ceases to amaze or surprise me.
Wallpaper, furniture, fashion, pharmaceuticals, financials, beer, food – you name it, I’ve worked on it.
Who knows, the strangest could be the next phone call?
Q: What’s the best kind of print?
A: I look at printed material in a very technical way. It can be very easy to overlook why the product has been created in the first place.
It may be a reference or information source, created to sell product(s) or simply produced to increase awareness or profile.
So, ultimately the best kind of print is one that achieves its’ objective and gets results.
Q: What can make an “ordinary” print project become “extra-ordinary” and why?
A: Good design and choice of materials can have a significant influence on the effectiveness of a printed product.
Sometimes a simple page size or format change can easily alter how everything comes together and ultimately how the brand is perceived.
I’m a big fan of the use of uncoated stock for both Covers and Text, although this can be a tricky one to get right.
I also like the addition of texture, varnish and coating applications to add to the tactile appeal.
Techniques that make you think hold great interest for me. I’ve recently seen some Cover samples printed on metallic board, amazing.
Q: What do you do in your spare time, hobbies etc?
A: I’m a huge fan of music, especially live events, and have an extensive collection covering most genres.
I love good food, good wine and beer – possibly a little too much.
I follow a variety of sports, including F1, motorcycle road racing (I’ve owned motorbikes since I was 18), cycling and snooker and last year set about regaining some of my younger fitness levels, so exercise, cycling and watching the diet.
Q: If you were on a desert island, what three things would you take with you?
A: A copy of Ray Mears “Outdoor Survival Handbook”. A really great quality handmade knife. My cat Holly, she is an Olympic standard hunter!
Q: What’s the most rewarding part of your job?
A: I’m a perfectionist, so seeing good products photographed well, stylish design, good quality repro, print and finishing carried out by people who care about what they’re doing, all pulled together by efficient organisation and executed with professionalism makes me very happy.
I love to see all the processes come together to deliver a high-quality product on time, and knowing the customer is pleased with results is reward indeed.
Q: What was your first record or CD?
A: Gosh, please don’t get me started on music. This has had a significant presence through my life, and I have a vast collection of vinyl, cd’s, even cassettes!
First ever purchase was “Mr Blue Sky” by ELO on 7’’ vinyl, 1977.
Unfortunately, my pocket money didn’t stretch to the blue vinyl version at the time, I probably need to address that.
Q: What has been your career highlight so far?
A: It’s not uncommon within our industry to find individuals who’ve been at the same company all their working life.
I’ve worked for terrific companies, each offering new challenges and different processes to learn and perfect, and I’m a firm believer that there is no such thing as a bad move.
A change from shopfloor production to management positions in both pre-press and pressroom departments as well as my current self-employed freelance role are all significant landmarks, though most memorable continues to be the people I meet along the way.
I’ve often thought how wonderful a Print Factory based sit-com could be, based on the some of the characters I’ve met!