Repro is alive and well in London. Far from being killed off by the rise of desktop-based colour publishing systems in the 1990s, it’s thriving at Bankside-based dpm, where company founders Richard Deal and Dave Steggle are using a Crosfield drum scanner, together with a couple of more recent flatbed models to provide top quality repro and retouching. Clients for their services include fine art publishers, galleries, museums and the Financial Times, for which the company provides complete production for the prestigious ‘How to Spend It’ magazine.
Founded in 2007 as the in-house repro facility for a Dartford-based printer, dpm has been in London since 2010.
“We’ve always felt there was a call for a repro house that was not connected to a printer, as publishers prefer to handle the two separately,” explains Richard Deal. “The printing is done anywhere from Italy to the Far East, so we moved to London to be closer to our clients.”
The persistence of proofs
The reason for seeking such physical proximity in the age of Internet-based communications is another repro staple that’s still very much in vogue with fine-art publishers – the hard proof.
“The conventional proof is still an integral part of the business; it’s about showing the art as closely as possible, so we go into the galleries with the proofs to compare against the originals, as well as sending them to the printers,” says Deal, who explains that the company works not only with book publishers, museums and public and private galleries, but also directly with artists.
“We like get involved as early as possible,” explains Deal, “as some projects can contain mixed source materials and we’re finding that the requirement for scanning is growing.” One recent job required the scanning of nearly 1000 pieces by British painter William Scott.
With volumes of images like this, it was a natural extension for dpm to implement a digital asset management system to provide online access to its clients. For this they turned to long-time partner LGS_TPI, who recommended Xinet’s Web Native. Following the successful implementation in early 2012 of the online photo library service, one dpm client, Phaidon Press, asked if it would also be possible to provide live production review and management facilities online.
“The client wanted an international solution,” explains Deal. “They have editors and designers in different countries around the world, wanting remote access at any time, on devices ranging from desktop computers to iPads and smartphones.”
Once again dpm turned to LGS_TPI: “We know LGS_TPI are always open to discussion and will help us evolve our business by passing our feedback to the developers; the ongoing nature of the relationship is a key feature in their selection,” says Deal.
Book publishing solved
LGS_TPI suggested that dpm look at DALIM ES, and a demonstration was very quickly arranged. Deal recalls, “ES ticked a lot of boxes. It’s very compatible, it’s so much more than just a flat-planning tool – editors, publishers and designers can use it for every stage of book production, from the initial brief through to hand-off for print. We see it as a complete book publishing solution.”
Installed towards the end of 2012, dpm’s ES system also incorporates DALIM TWIST for pre-flighting and production tasks. By constructing separate workflows, ES and TWIST allow Phaidon’s editors, designers and art directors to review, mark-up and approve different parts of the same live project simultaneously. The artwork is constructed as a five-colour job, in which the text is assigned to the fifth colour. ES and TWIST allow editors to see body text and captions, while designers see images and graphics only, so the different approval processes can be kept separate.
Phaidon has been pleased with the ES-based system. “From the user’s point of view, it’s very easy to get to grips with; TWIST integrates tightly so users can access print folders and job queues directly from the flatplan.” comments Deal, but he and Steggle see the system having applications for their other clients too.
“It’s a tool that will attract business and help us develop,” declares Deal. “The FT’s How to Spend It has four editions, from Asia to the US, printed at three sites around the world, for example. With this system, all of them would be able to log in to check and upload work whenever suits them.”