Interview: Meet our Printers: Ex Why Zed

Ex Why Zed have been printing So Young since the very first issue and are key in the development of the magazine and how it looks.

We were fairly clueless when it came to getting the work ready for print when we first started ten years ago but the team at EWZ patiently walked us through the process and more or less gave us a free Indesign tutorial along the way. By issue three we were getting it right first time which they appreciated as there hard work with us had paid off. The print process now consists of a few emails back and forth and before we know it the boxes are on our doorstep ready for launch day. We caught up with the team about their ethos and the future of independent publishing.


You seem to really care about the products you are printing and enjoy being a part of the various creative projects you bring into the world. Could you explain Ex Why Zed’s ethos?

Our ethos at Ex Why Zed is ‘We Help Transform Your Ideas Into Print’ and we follow this in everything we do. A big percentage of people who print with us have never printed anything before so we’re super keen to give them all the help they need to make their journey smooth and enjoyable.

We do enjoy being part of creative projects and it’s a real buzz when a PDF lands in our inbox from a band, artist or creative designer that we’re actually fans of. We’ve been lucky to print for Gallows, Beans on Toast, George Ezra, CRi, Municipal Waste, NO8NOFACE…still waiting for that Liam Gallagher order to arrive! 🙂

You put a lot of care and attention into making sure your clients get their artwork set up to the best standard for print and you aren’t just out to make a quick buck. Does this come from a personal experience of working with printers in the past who just don’t care?

Absolutely, that definitely had an influence. We actively aim to set ourselves apart from the rest of the industry and have the time, patience and knowledge to help people prepare their files, offer advice and show them all the options available. Pre-Lockdown we had just launched our long-form video series and have kept adding to that over the years with loads of Showcase Snippet videos that are around 2 minutes long giving a great insight into what zine printing options are available.

Genuinely, if you’ve never printed anything before then it probably is a challenge to understand all the options but we’ve made it super easy. We’ve just launched our Print Journey which is a step-by-step route that helps people advance their project from an initial idea to a printed publication. There are illustrated guides, engaging videos and packed blog posts at each stage to help make informed choices, then return to the Journey as the reader moves from idea to quote, through file set-up and finally placing an order.

What are some of your favourite projects you’ve printed recently?

Four jobs that jump out and are relevant to the So Young audience are First Three, No Flash by Michael Augustini – a timeless photography book of iconic images taken from down the front at live shows. Bosh Magazine is an illustration and creative writing zine which actively encourages its audience to read in a safe cosy space away from the dark, disconnected, damp quagmire of social media. Lastly, we’ve completed some wire stitched zine printing to accompany the George Ezra album Goldrush Kid and a perfect bound, Limited Edition Zine to accompany the new CRi ‘Miracles’ album. Nice additional items to add in to a boxset for big fans of the artists or to sell as merch on tour.
If your readers want to see more, grab a drink of choice and dive into the Ex Why Zed Portfolio which is packed with almost 500 case studies. Not the CGI, made-up nonsense that the other sites have but actual, real-life jobs we’ve printed 🙂

You must print a lot of Arts University Final Major Projects and End of Year Show Catalogues, what is that experience like and do you get the chance to check out many of the shows in person?

That is one of the most rewarding times of the year because the students are super excited to get their final bit of University work designed, printed and submitted before they embark on the reality of the big, wide, world. Although they only print a handful of copies, the work is creative and cutting edge fresh from the new techniques they’ve learnt over the three years at College. We’re seeing a lot more hardback book printing as Final Major Projects and recently did one called Northumbria from a Photographer called Tom Quibell which photographically followed the path of the River Tyne. Each page had a song lyric opposite the image and the book ends on the beach with the opening verse from Sam Fender’s Seventeen Going Under.

It is great when people we printed for as students, re-appear years later in a new role at an agency or larger company.

How do you feel the rise of online publishing and apps like Instagram over the last few years has affected independent publishing and people wanting to print their work as a way of distribution when they can reach more people online?

This is an interesting question because the last time we spoke, Instagram was in its infancy and tik tok was still just a noise your clock made. We weren’t first to the party but soon realised that with both being visual channels they were good vehicles to engage with an audience and showcase what can be achieved in print.

Printing books as a distraction to online matter is definitely a growing theme with publications including editorial and content that specifically address this. It is a big achievement if you can get someone to focus on your new publication for half an hour and enjoy that moment of turning the page to reveal what’s coming next…as opposed to manically scrolling until their retinas go on permanent holiday.

That said, a lot of our clients have built an online presence which has then given them the confidence and following to be able to launch an offline publication. There is a distinct crossover into the music industry too with vinyl having a resurgence.

Got a project in the pipeline? We look forward to hearing from you!

So Young is a new music magazine and the new issue is out now. Buy your print copy here or read the digital edition below.