In Conversation With Jeff From Pumphouse Print

This month we sat down with Jeff Sun. Owner and operator of Pumphouse Print in Auckland to discuss the often overlooked creative practice of print and what goes into running a printshop. We touch on daily habits, motivation and his day to day listening along with some of the more technical practices within print.

Tell us a bit about yourself and what you do.

Hey, I'm Jeff, owner and operator of Pumphouse Print. A small print shop situated in New Lynn, West Auckland, New Zealand. I would describe myself as an entrepreneurial opportunist. The flame sparked at the age of 21 when i decided to start photographing people’s 21st birthdays which then spread across to a broad range of events — a growing side hustle that kept me busy throughout my years of study in graphic design and personal training. After a number of failed attempts at starting my own business, I had an opportunity to take on the print shop that I was currently employed under. Although currently cemented in a much-perceived dying sector of business — the struggle of maintaining a relevant presence is what I love to endeavour in and constantly find ways to provide in services and product output.

The art of printing can often be overlooked in the creative fields, it’s so much more than what most understand. What led you to a career in print?

Working in a small print shop under the previous owner, I ultimately learnt the entire process from design to print output. The two skills complimented each other so perfectly — providing me with enough know-how to want to further delve into improving the business efficiently and in innovating ways.

A lot of people consider print to be a dying medium in the digital age, do you see print having a resurgence in the future or are we already seeing it happening?

To be honest, you are right. Print is slowly dying. However, there are niches within the sector that do have their spotlight. For example, something tactile and high quality like an art print onto a cotton rag or a 600gsm thick duplexed business card accompanied with a metallic gold foil stamp on one side and a blind debossed logo on the reverse. Or a personalised, custom-branded limited edition run of postcards. It is these niches and trends that I try to entertain in order to stay relevant. Just truly riding the wave of print and enjoying the journey of discovery and innovation till time does its part.

What are your daily habits or rituals?

Sustaining clean nourishment, awareness of breath and body posture keeps me calm and collected throughout the day. I have a lacrosse ball handy that I use to roll out on to offset all the sitting down that comes with the design and admin work involved in running the print shop.

There are so many variations in print, do you have a favourite to work with?

I'd have to say foil stamping, embossing and debossing. Although the process is quite manual work in terms of setup, the result is often very satisfying and rewarding. For example, being able to produce bespoke items such as wedding invitation stationary and high quality business cards.

What keeps you motivated?

Constantly searching for innovation in a fragile sector.

You can often be found with your headphones in - what does your day to day listening look like?

Jazz Hip Hop infused lo-fi beats, in the likes of Kiefer, Dela, Yusef Dayes, Nujabes and Nathan Haines to name a few — I feel, creates a clean studio-like atmosphere.

Do you have any advice for someone who may be interested in entering this field?

Being involved in print is a great way to broaden your knowledge about the process, from file setup to print production and finishing — also learning about all the different types of applications and possibilities that are available with print to enhance a product or promote a business. It is amazing what you can achieve to create a unique and memorable experience with a tactile object that is just literally paper. It's all just a bit of arts n crafts haha, well in my shop anyway!

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