From an accidental commission to an international company, the story behind the Finepaper blog.
Welcome to Finepaper’s latest endeavor. This is the first post of our first blog and we are glad you are here. It’s a big responsibility, starting a blog. We are asking readers to trust us, trust our ability to communicate, trust our knowledge and trust our network. Inviting you in, we are saying that we will respect your time, needs, interests and intellect.
These commitments are not new. I am co-founder of a company based in, and thriving because of, commitment to our customers and to quality in all aspects of our process, including communication. Still, it’s a big responsibility and, as we launch, I can’t help but think about all we have learned over the years and how we will apply it in this new space. Also, because, in publishing this post, we take the first step in an important Finepaper project, I thought it would be interesting to share here some other important moments in my journey and our team’s journey.
“In this profession, firsts are the only constant.”
My first commission doing something that looked like print management was totally unexpected. I was just helping out a friend. At the time I worked doing desktop publishing for a magazine and a friend who lived in a very small town called me to explain that he was responsible for a trade show catalog and, because he was behind his deadline to deliver the files, his printer couldn’t get the job done in time for the show opening. Since I was in a bigger city, he thought I probably knew someone who could help. I made some calls and got the contact info for a printer with a reputation for reliability. I sent this printer the catalog specs; he sent me a quote; I forwarded it along to my friend. It turned out that not only could this printing company meet the deadline, they would do it on a smaller budget than my friend expected. Great news. I connected my friend and the printer. The job went well and my friend was grateful.
The real surprise came a few days later when I opened my mailbox to find a thank you note and a commission check from the printer. It felt strange at first, but, after thinking about it, I realized that, besides helping a friend print a catalogue under a nearly impossible time frame and way below his budget, I had helped the printer get a job. It was a good feeling to make the connection and it was eye opening to realize I could earn money doing this work. That was more than 20 years ago.
I spent the next eight years working with print houses and design companies and publishers, learning as much as I could about the entire print process. I was becoming a print producer. When I was ready to start Finepaper I had come to understand perhaps the most important lesson in the field: there is always something new to learn and every job will teach you new things. In this profession, firsts are the only constant. When I was comfortable with that idea and I knew I wanted to build a team based on versatility and human connections, I was ready to start a business.
“I knew I wanted to build a team based on versatility and human connections.”
We’ve considered having a Finepaper blog since the company launched in 2008. The idea of a blog came before I even registered the company. I knew it was a good idea. And a lot of work. We were a scrappy company, made up of just myself and Paula Cardoso and I was busy building our network, meeting clients, analyzing projects, quoting, doing DTP, managing suppliers, organizing production, invoicing, scheduling payments—and sometimes sleeping. While it was not the right time to do a blog justice, I closely followed several industry blogs, including that of my friends Paulo Ferreira and Nuno Seabra Lopes. They founded Booktailors (now “The Book Company”) and I saw their blog skyrocket to become the number-one information source for the book and publishing industries in Portugal. After more than 3,000,000 visits they decided to evolve blogtailors to a newsletter. This project is an inspiration for the dedication and professionalism we want to offer.
While Paulo and Nuno offer a model for this project, I draw on many other people and experiences to help guide our intent and standards. I must, then, begin with my mother who inspires me with her calm and thoughtful way of always finding a solution to the problems that come up in her life. She spent her career as a designer in a large company that had internal printing. This offered me endless firsts in the field even before I began to work and created a connection to the world of print from the very beginning. As I type this blog, I remember that I even got to spend a summer internship in her office tapping away on her department’s first computer, teaching myself and then teaching her CorelDRAW, cutting edge software at the time.
Inspiration also comes from so many printers, teachers, bosses, colleagues and students, too many to mention individually in just one post. Perhaps most influential is Professor César Charrua, still part of my life and the lives of many other alumni, from whom we all have had the opportunity to gain a lifetime of knowledge and to witness profound dedication to this trade. From him I had the privilege of hearing someone talk so passionately about the graphic arts that I understood it for the first time as a true art form, something we hope this blog can do for our readers.
My business partner Fernando Costa and I have devoted time and experience to carefully building the Finepaper team. We are excited for this new space where the team can share their knowledge with you. As a group, the Finepaper team has a deep and diverse skill set and, also, we will invite our larger printing community to share. This blog is an opportunity to translate what we do to a wider audience. This new method of sharing the knowledge and experience we have developed really excites us. We want to explain problems and how to solve them. We want to bring you closer to the Finepaper team.
“This blog is an opportunity to translate what we do to a wider audience.”
News and events in the printing industry are very well represented by dozens of projects on the Web and, so, for that reason, we don’t intend to focus on that content. These include Printing Impressions, PrintWeek, Two Sides, and, of course, Deborah Corn, the Intergalactic Ambassador to The Printerverse™, to mention just a few of my favorites. Instead, we are creating an informal space to share our individual experiences related to what we do every day. Finepaper’s team, and possibly some friends, colleagues and partners, will be talking about subjects of interest to designers, marketers, publishers, graphic producers, other graphic arts professionals, students in related fields and anyone who wants to know more about this world where printing happens.
I still can’t believe that I am writing this very first blog post from our first international office. After several opportunities to work with international companies on projects in several different countries, we are creating international branches to be closer to clients and to grow our suppliers network even faster. We are working in collaboration with Artipol’s team, headed by Sílvia Antunes, truly great partners in this project. Twenty years after that first, unexpected commission, I am so grateful for the experience that helped me realize a passion could become a profession. I’m grateful for this new outlet for that passion. What an honor to be here, publishing this first post on our first blog. Stick around. It’s going to be an interesting ride. Here we go!