With the new premises move has come the opportunity to re think my office, production space and work area. I am setting up a totally new print shop and it seemed a great opportunity to plan what I need to include, what I can do without and the best layout to assist with great workflow to reduce production and installation time. 


This was a great chance to talk about setting up from scratch and talk through the things that in my opinion and experience are important to consider when you are taking on your first work space. 


One of the most important things I would say is to get the biggest space you can comfortably afford. When I took on my first office space, I thought that it was too big and I would never grow into it. Around 3 months later I found myself taking on more storage space because I had filled the new office. Having said that, keep in mind that printers, inks and materials are effected easily by the cold and so make sure that you build in appropriate storage areas and heating. This is also the case for vehicle installations, you need to retain the ability to get your workspace to ‘room’ temperature for correct installations. Not just for the material to work effectively but also for your own comfort. 


My new unit is just over 1300 sq feet and is an open industrial style unit with a large full height electric roller shutter door. The only separate little room was the toilet and so I had to think about where I wanted the office, where the vehicles for wrapping would be brought in, where I would finish large prints and signage, and how my workflow would work. 


I wanted to keep it looking professional, keep my desk, computer equipment and personal effects safe and out of view as well as having the printer and laminator in a warm smaller space and material storage similarly stored and not too far from the printer. 


I decided to use the far side of the unit to build a 7metre x 6 metre office space. This would be sub divided by a 3 metre wall half way along. The plan was that the roller shutter would open, customer vehicles could be driven straight in, making the most of the installation space. The office building would be to the right, accessed by a lockable office door, through which there would be the printer and laminator and then through the divide, you would come to another office space where my desk, computers and customer meeting space would be. I would class these as the ‘print room’ and the ‘office’. I wanted them to have a modern look, be clean and fresh looking and be able to use the space to showcase some work too.

I decided to build the entire structure in a modular form using structural timbers so that in the future if I wanted to we could build workspace above the offices. For the modern look and also to keep the cost down slightly I was going to use OBS (Oriented strand board) to clad the main structure with the dividing walls being plastered.

I had specified daylight LED lights with motion sensors for both rooms and some additional ones for the wall of the installation area and I planned to wrap the plastered walls with a printable wallpaper to give each room a feature wall as well as demonstrate the possibilities of the custom wallpaper. 


I had built my own cutting table when I moved into my first office space. It was a little rough around the edges being made with sawn timber legs and frame, an OSB top and clad on top with a thin plastic sheet. I kept it more for sentimental reasons but it is 8’ x 4’ so is a useable size. 

I need something slightly lower though, and twice the size in addition to the original and so this is something to be built, probably using the structural timber so it will take the 40kg weight of my new 500 x 400mm t-shirt heat press. 


I had 4 weeks to turn the place from an empty industrial unit to a customer friendly, quirky, inspiring, well lit, professional looking and useable printing, finishing and installation space. The result was not much sleep for a month but the space looks amazing. It’s interesting and functional and is everything I imagined it would be. The comments and messages Ive had through social media have been really motivating and I am grateful for all the people who took the time to have a look and give me their opinions. 


Having been using the space now for a few weeks, I have moved a few things around and started to get into more of a flow with work. In my next article I’m going to be writing about the equipment I have, how I use it, where I bought it from and the type of products I make with each piece I have. 



In the meantime, for those of you who might be new to the print industry, or are looking to get into it, or perhaps are working with a vinyl cutter and outsourcing the print, or just looking for advice and new ideas, I am running a one day print business workshop on Saturday 22nd September 2018.


It will be a day of discussion, tips, tricks as well as hands on printing and installations. I will be giving some real life examples of the ups and downs of business and case studies of jobs from the last few years to help print business owners, or aspiring owners, to start and grow effectively, get inspired with new materials and products and avoid some of the pit falls.


Get in touch to book your place. @Signmaster_UK @rolanddguk @Metamarkuk


I’ve started and grown my business from a 600mm cutter in the spare room to the busy commercial print operation it is today and I want to help others do the same.