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 four 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?

Yes we do and enjoy being the first to see people’s projects, coining the phrase “The Coalface of Creativity” because we get to see creative work from inception, through the crafting process to the point when it’s released into the world. It’s a great feeling picking up Creative Review or reading It’s Nice That and seeing something we’ve printed getting rave reviews.

Our ethos is to be actively different from the rest of the industry. We are always at the end of the phone to answer questions and although we might not be just down the road or in your City our aim is to be accessible and to provide a level of customer service that sets up apart from the zillion off-the-shelf internet printers.

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?

Yes that definitely had an influence. Our website is designed to be equally as much a resource for people wanting to set up artwork for print as it is a vehicle to get business in. We’ve fine-tuned our set up guides over the years and now a good chunk of work arrives ready to print even though a high percentage of our customers have never printed anything before. As for making a quick buck, the process of sending a job to print usually takes around 3 months from that first contact for a quote or sample pack to the point where the finished printing lands on a doorstep. We always quote for a range of options to help people get the best possible price and stretch their budget further. Ultimately we go to great lengths to help people when they’re ordering before they get a nasty surprise when a box turns up and they realise the silk stock they ordered doesn’t match their favourite tie.


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

Three jobs that jump out are a book called The Pram in the Hall by artist Alice Instone which was a really great hard back book full of To-Do lists from a huge selection of A List women around the world…Emilia Fox, Bella Freud and Sadie Frost [clang]…there’s the name drop! http://www.exwhyzed.co.uk/portfolio/the-pram-in-the-hall-by-alice-instone/

We were lucky enough to be chosen to print a 50th Anniversary book to celebrate the achievements of Shelter Housing. http://www.exwhyzed.co.uk/portfolio/shelter-at-50-books/

A third great job from earlier this year was Lobster Tales by Sidewalk Mag. We’ve got a bit of a following in the skate community and this was a photographic zine and postcard set shot at glorious British seaside resorts in not so glorious January. http://www.exwhyzed.co.uk/products/skate-zine-printing/

There are some awesome projects in the pipeline over the next few weeks – keep an eye on our twitter.

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?

We do, especially at this time of year! FMPs are great because they are so varied across the subjects: fashion look books, awesome photography journals and . A favourite one that sticks out was a graphic design FMP a few years ago. It was an info graphic book depicting a guy’s challenge to stay awake for 196 hours without sleep. 196 HOURS! At the start of the book he was full of hope and quite jovial but by the end the poor bloke was a shambles and thought his own shadow was attacking him! Don’t try it at home kids.


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?

When it started gathering pace a few years ago I think the print industry probably thought it was living on borrowed time and it would only be a matter of months before everyone would have an iPad sewn to the front of their heads. We embraced it and have printed a load of work that wouldn’t have been possible without Instagram. 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’s still something brilliant about buying and reading an actual book or magazine – the joy of being able to flick through the pages without burning your retina or carrying around a battery pack. There is a distinct crossover into the music industry too with vinyl having a resurgence. We have a record player in our office and make a point of buying our favourite albums on record or cd to appreciate the sleeve artwork rather than downloading them.

Our one nugget of advice would be don’t walk before you can run. With issue 1 choose a print run that you know wont break the bank and build from there once you know the model works. Years ago we did print a few Zines that had print runs in the thousands from issue 1 but they only ever had that one issue because they’d done their bankroll when only half the copies were sold. Now the trend is to print a few hundred copies and comfortably let the zine evolve with each issue. Got a project in the pipeline? You know where we are!