Feature Life

What’s on My Desk: Mike Davidson and Stephanie Butler

Mike Davidson and Stephanie Butler.
Mike Davidson and Stephanie Butler. Image: Cherise Letson/Huddle Today

Saint John-based Printworks Screen Printing, a full-service screen printing and graphic design business, has been experiencing some growth lately thanks to a new automatic screen press. The press is the only one of its kind in New Brunswick and one of only eight in Atlantic Canada.

The new press allows Printworks to increase its capacity up to 30x and makes the overall screenprinting process less manual.

We thought this machine sounded pretty cool, so we decided to pay owners Mike Davidson and Stephanie Butler a visit to check it out, along with the rest of their cool office space.

Where is your office space? 

Mike Davidson: “We’re located on Clyde Street. When we first moved in it was actually 215 City Road and there was no address for this location and we had a bit of mail trouble. So we got our own postal address and now we’re called 27 Clyde Street. The only address on Clyde Street.

We’re on the second floor. We’re above the Estey Group. We share a space with them. They do embroidery, sail, and canvas repair next door. They have some really cool, old-school sewing going on over there.

We’ve been here for a year and we’ve been in business for almost six years. It will be six years in February.

Can you describe the work that you guys do here?

Davidson: We are a full-service screen printing and graphic design shop. Full-service meaning that we do everything from design to ordering the garments to basically providing the finished product. We also provide graphics design services and website design services and other related things like that.

Can you describe the effort you guys put in to make your space the way it is?

Stephanie Butler: When we first came up here, this whole area was mostly just storage for them. So we really focused on making it a comfortable workspace for us. We put in some new flooring, we painted some walls. They actually knocked down a few walls for us as well to try to get the feel that we want up here. We have it separated to have our creative space over here where we have our showroom and our office and then our production space in the other room.

Previous to the new equipment, we actually had it all just grouped together, so we feel much more comfortable in here now.

We’ve done some work outside as well. That road outside has recently been paved. We’ve put the new deck outside and we’ve been working on it for about year now. We’ve been calling it the “beautification of Clyde Street.” We’re in a bit of an industrial corner down here, so we want people to be able to find us easily and see where we are.

What do you surround yourself with to stay productive?

Davidson: To stay productive, we surround ourselves with calendars. We use some team productivity tools, one called Asana, for scheduling jobs and keeping the guys on tasks. We have a graphic designer and a production assistant working with us.

We do most of our work through email, occasional phone calls, but we pretty much nailed the process by now so we kind of generally know what we get into when we start a job. Scheduling is important to us. Our biggest thing here is getting your job done when we say we’re going to get it done. We try to do all our t-shirt design stuff within 10 business days no matter what. We’ve been able to maintain that for about six years now.

Butler: Lots of caffeine during the week. Then maybe a beer on Friday afternoon to help keep us creative and motivated.

Is there anything you can’t have around when you’re working?

Davidson: I don’t know if it’s because I’m a graphic designer or if I became a graphic designer because of it, but I don’t do well with distractions. So I’m kind of a headphones-on concentration kind of guy. So I guess for me, a lot of noise. Stephanie, you seem to do well in that environment.

Butler: Yeah, except when family shows up, then I get distracted and then I go talk to them for a long time.

What’s the most important thing on your desk?

Davidson: From my perspective, it would be my laptop. Other than that, I try to keep a pretty clean space because we’re always shuffling shirts around and doing production, so empty workspaces are important to us.

Butler: For me, it’s my organization tools. I’m a bit girly when it comes to that. I love all my coloured pens and coloured highlighters and notebooks. That’s the stuff that really helps me get through the day with keeping myself organized because I’m planning all the production stuff and ordering all the shirts and doing all that stuff.

Interview has been edited for length and clarity.