In the spring of 2010, Lantz Arroyo, a printing apprentice, accidentally started a printing business.
Edited and excerpted from NewYork.com — Lantz Arroyo of Radix Media (radixmedia.org) is the second author and business owner to participate in NewYork.com’s series about homegrown entrepreneurs — people who are trying to make their way in New York City by running their own business. This post is his first in a series of 10.
In the spring of 2010, I accidentally started a printing business. I say accidentally because, well, it really was kind of an accident.
The way it started was a bit of a blur, a bit of one-thing-leads-to-another, but before I knew it, I was running a one-person print shop without having thought about any of the things that one should probably think about when starting a business. I had no guiding documents, no pricing structure, no real plan at all — I decided to just kind of wing it. And, as you can probably imagine, it made my life difficult. But first, let me back up a little bit.
It was the early part of 2010 when I approached Eberhardt Press, a small printer and publisher in Portland, Ore., about an apprenticeship. I had been living in Portland for four and a half years and had a job at a worker-owned café and venue. I was doing the event booking and some of the marketing, and had previously gotten some posters printed by Charles, the printer behind Eberhardt Press. His work was beautiful, but I had no idea how he made it, no clue about the process that put real ink on paper and created something out of nothing. Being fascinated by this, I figured I would just give it a shot and ask him. Truth be told, I was a little surprised when he decided to take me on.
During my one-year stint at Eberhardt Press, I mostly did bindery work — folding and stapling booklets, putting together notepads, collating stacks of sheets. But another huge piece of it was really just hovering over Charles as he ran the press, inadvertently learning a great deal about printing before I ever put my hands on the machine. Halfway through my apprenticeship, I became obsessed with getting my own press and started lurking Craigslist (this would become a theme). I ended up finding my first press, an AB Dick 9810, at some guy’s place in Hillsboro, Ore., and spent all my meager savings to buy it. I borrowed a friend’s purple 1972 pickup truck to get the thing, what then felt like the biggest behemoth to have ever existed, and the drive back to Portland was a little bit of a horror show. I was now completely broke, but the press was mine, and I was on my way to greatness or something like it.