Crafting a Generation: Kim Blanchette

In an age where printing companies are going digital and competing on price, Blanchette Press continues to craft masterpieces with their offset presses and the passion for quality. The family-run company values the freedom to produce the best product and the ability to cultivate great execution.

Kim Blanchette in his office.

Kim Blanchette in his office.

“I learned from designers,” owner Kim Blanchette admits. “Creative minds taught me.” That’s how he describes how he learned how to print so well. Today, young designers learn from directly from the craftsman himself, who guides them with his innate sense of color and ink on every job they do on press.

Kim started in the business by selling color in the 1970s and became inspired by working with creative people. He began to see the possibilities while working with visionary artists, photographers and designers. Ever since then, the self-taught printer has been striving to look for client collaborators who challenge them to jump through hoops and achieve the unachievable.

Kim and Adam Blanchette check proofs on press.

Kim and Adam Blanchette check proofs on press.

Over four decades, Blanchette Press has evolved from a letterpress shop to an offset printing company that specializes in serving the design community. The company crafts their relationships with creative people just as carefully as they do with their work. Their collaboration list with industry greats reads more like a who’s who in graphic design legends, including Pentagram, Studio Hinrichs, The Hill Group, Carbone Smolan, VSA Partners and more.

Blanchette Press believes that close human relationships create the best possible work. They approach every project from an artistic perspective rather than a technical process. That means the artist is key to the success of the work.

Client: Sandro Miller Photography / Design Firm: SamataMason

Client: The Hill Group / Design Firm: Terry Vine Photography

Client: AIGA / Design Firm: Weymouth Design

Client: AIGA / Design Firm: Weymouth Design

Client: Nichole Sloan Photography / Design Firm: Sasges Inc.

Client: Nichole Sloan Photography / Design Firm: Sasges Inc.

Client: The Hill Group / Design Firm: Terry Vine Photography

Client: Sandro Miller Photography / Design Firm: SamataMason

“That’s the intangible element that goes into a project,” remarks Nick Knowlden, Director of Sales. “To create a great project, it has to be well-designed, have great photography, have great typography and have great execution and production. We meet the execution part by working with people who value that part of the chain.”

The whole team works very closely with their clientele to help interpret what the designer is trying to achieve. Kim and his pressmen check the quality on every job before it ever leaves the plant.

Pentagram Typography Calendar / Design Firm: Pentagram San Francisco

Pentagram Typography Calendar / Design Firm: Pentagram San Francisco

Client: Rodney Smith / Design Firm: David Meredith Design

Client: Rodney Smith / Design Firm: David Meredith Design

Client: American Express / Design Firm: VSA Partners New York

Client: American Express / Design Firm: VSA Partners New York

And the attention to detail pays off. Blanchette Press has been recognized around the world for the brilliance of their talent. Apart from the accolades they collect from the printing community, they’ve also garnered recognition from the design community with multiple Mead Annual Report Show and Graphis gold and platinum awards.

Kim’s family helps to continue the printing tradition. The small but dedicated staff of 35 tries to keep it simple and limit the company’s growth in order to keep the focus on quality. There’s no fancy client lounges or elaborate client amenities at Blanchette Press. The operation is humble because they put all their passion into the craft of printing. And with that core value in mind, the company continues to prove that anything is possible.

Photography by Victor John Penner.

Client: American Express / Design Firm: VSA Partners New York

The long shelf of Mead Annual Report Show awards.

Blanchette Press' beautiful location in Richmond, British Columbia.

Blanchette Press' beautiful location in Richmond, British Columbia.

Rachel Elnar is a partner at Ramp Creative+Design in Los Angeles, a multi-disciplinary design firm that believes that design makes doing business a pleasure. She loves thinking, writing, tweeting about the business of design.

 

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