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Gavin's Underground

Spilt Ink

by Gavin Sheehan
- Posted // 2012-11-09 - In recent years, Kilby Court -- the street, that is -- has been picking up a lot of traffic from changes and new additions. Most of them are temporary, like the Salty Streets Flea Market that ran for a few years over the summer with vendors and traders, or more recently, when Crucial Fest set up shop for the all-ages shows on the street. But the latest addition that's gotten some great buzz has been Spilt Ink, a printing shop run by Jeremy Conder and Andrew Milne out of the venue's old green room in the building to the south.
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The shop produces custom prints for both posters and wearable items, as well as adorning your logo to whatever object you can find -- all at reasonable prices by people who know what local promoters, both professional and DYI-centric, are looking for. Today, I chat with Conder about the business and the work they've been doing along with his thoughts on the local art scene. (Photos courtesy of Spilt Ink.)

Jeremy Conder (left, with Andrew Milne, right)
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Gavin: Hey, Jeremy First thing, tell us a little bit about yourself.

Jeremy: I love Salt Lake City. I love music and play a lot of it, in multiple bands. I like awesome restaurants and whiskey. I tend to generally have the most fun and almost always can pick the best thing off of a menu. My partner Andrew Milne is a Libra, a gentleman and street scholar.
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Gavin: What got you interested in art and design, and what were some early influences on you?

Jeremy: Being in bands and wanting/needing sellable merchandise. Paying close attention to local bands who did well off merchandise, as well and regional and national friends to see what worked and what didn't. From there, I think I started developing a good understanding of concepts like branding or not at all, as well as the difference between quality art and quality design. They're not the same thing nor mutually exclusive.

Gavin: Did you take any college for art, or were you mainly self-taught?

Jeremy: No college, just the school of hard knocks for both Andrew and me.
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Gavin: What drew your interest specifically to graphic design, and what was it like for you learning the craft?

Jeremy: Everything I know about graphic design came out of necessity. While we do some design work at Spilt Ink, it definitely isn't our forte, whereas getting our clients' designs ready to screen print and producing a quality final product is. Andrew and I both make designs for our own purposes, which are way rad, but generally our clients either have artwork already or a solid idea that we then have conceptualized by one of our awesome graphic designers who we work with. They're much better/efficient at it.

Gavin: How did you come across Spilt Ink, and how did you come to be involved with it?

Jeremy: The business was actually started by our good friend Tony D'Amico and his family a bit more than seven years ago, I believe. The name was his. Andrew, having worked in screen-printing shops since he was 15, helped Tony to learn the trade and worked for the shop several times throughout his ownership and the short ownership by one other after Tony. I also worked for Tony here and there and that's how I began learning. I bought the business and we took over in August of 2010 after the second owner found that screen printing wasn't his thing.
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Gavin: What was it like taking over the business and what were your first few months like?

Jeremy: While we were a bit nervous to start, we were way confident we could make the business work, and having a history as well as a solid customer base helped our success immensely. We very fortunate and thankful to have had the success we've had since, basically, the start and for our continued growth.

Gavin: What made you decide to stick mostly to traditional screen printing rather than go digital?

Jeremy: There's a definite difference in not only the quality of screen printing but also the culture and hands-on approach compared to digital. We can get digital done for customers but it's not a very regular thing for us. Most of our customers are looking for a quality product and our handson approach, though the whole process is reflected in that final product.
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Gavin: What's the process like for you in making a new shirt or poster, from concept to final product?

Jeremy: Generally, we are approached by our customers with an idea they want printed, a type of media -- specific apparel, flat media, or some other thing -- they want it printed on, a quantity and a deadline. Once we've helped the customer decide specifically the media they want and the quantity/color/sizing details, we work with their art to get it into a screen-print-ready format. This means that each color to be printed is separated to be turned into its own film and then exposed onto each screen. It's a cool process that can be somewhat compared to the creation of black and white film, negatives and then photos. Come down to the shop and hang out and we'll show you how it all works.

Gavin: Considering you work with clients a lot of the time, how much leeway do you have to play with their designs or ideas and help bring them to life?

Jeremy: This definitely depends on the customer. Some customers know exactly what they want and that's exactly it. It's our job to produce a product that is to their exact specifications. Other customers have a general idea and we help them through the process, all the while giving our suggestions as to what will make their product, in our opinion, the coolest/most cost effective/sellable etc., whatever their goal is, while some customers will give us a ton of free rein to make their idea as cool as we can. Those are the most fun!
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Gavin: When did you decide to relocate to Salt Lake City, and what made you decide to move into Kilby Court?

Jeremy: During the process of purchasing the business, we knew that we wanted to relocate from Bountiful to Salt Lake City. Both Andrew and I live downtown, and the majority of our customers were already from SLC. We looked all over the Salt Lake valley for a location for the shop and had a different location initially chosen. About a week before we were to move, the space at Kilby came available and we knew we wanted it. It was smaller than what we were looking for, but being at the heart of our city in a location with so much culture was too much for us to pass up. We got hold of Lance and told him that we wanted the space and would do whatever it took to get it. There was already another business looking to move in, but Lance knew we were the coolest.

Gavin: Locally, you've worked with Kilby, Raunch Records and several local bands. How has it been for you contributing to the entertainment scene?

Jeremy: It's super-cool to see our work all over the place. About a month ago, I was at Lagoon for about five hours and I saw five different Raunch designs we'd printed, a Get Scared hoodie, a Jackalope shirt and a Tee we did for Discrete Headwear. Our local community is sooo rad with so many different niches, businesses, bands, artists, etc., and it's awesome to have the opportunity to work with so many of them.
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Gavin: Are there any plans to expand the business at this point, or are you comfortable where things are?

Jeremy: We're constantly growing and looking to. As we grow, we're always looking for the most efficient way to keep up. The natural growth of the business has led us to add screen-printing services such as poster printing, discharge and water-based screen printing; we've just barely started offering stickers and button making. As we have the opportunity to offer more services, we plan to. As we have the opportunity to service more customers, we love that, too.

Gavin: Going local, what are your thoughts on the local art scene and the work coming from it?

Jeremy: Like I said previously, we've got so many cool things happening all the time in Salt Lake pertaining the the art scene. The growth is cool with new and better events every year, new businesses, new ideas, new everything! It's exciting, and we can honestly say that from what we've seen there's a solid commitment to quality and culture at almost every level. We're proud to be part it.
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Gavin: Is there anything you believe could be done to make things more prominent?

Jeremy: I think we're on a great path as a community, and as long as we can keep the pride in our city/area that we're seeing now, things will continue to grow in a good way. Just remember where we're from and why it's the awesomest!

Gavin: Who are some other people doing screen printing and graphic work in SLC who you've enjoyed checking out?

Jeremy: Travis Bone does way-cool oversized poster prints! Copper Pallet Press does some rad artist prints, as well as some really cool shows and events. For all-around screen printing, we're the coolest on the earth!
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Gavin: What can we expect from you and Spilt Ink over the rest of the year and going into next?

Jeremy: We'll keep on making the coolest stuff and expanding our services! We have the most awesome, most exclusive "Christmanas" Party. Check yer mailboxes.


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