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How I Got the Job: James Swanson

(May 2017) posted on Wed Jun 21, 2017

Screaming Images’ principal on printing his passions, working in Sin City, and how his punk rock lifestyle taught him how to stand out in the business world.

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By Adrienne Palmer

Q. Tell us about your day job.

A: My day job is pretty cool. I own a printing company that has grown over the years to one of the biggest and best shops in Las Vegas. The folks we work for are all awesome, and the niches we work in are some of my favorite things: sports, bands, festivals, casinos, beer. What more could a guy ask for?

My day usually starts at 3 a.m. I work in my home office for an hour setting up my day, and then hit the gym. I’m at the shop by 6 a.m. We work two shifts, so I have a full crew in early to get the printers fired up. I spend the day making sure everything is sent out at its highest quality, and that all of the customers are super taken care of. My day never ends, really, and I’m fielding calls and messages up until bedtime around 8:30.

Q. What were you doing before Screaming Images? How did you become involved in the wide-format world?

A: I’ve been in this industry 30 years now. I started working for a litho/separation company in downtown LA back in 1987. I started in the shipping department and worked my way up to the proofing and print departments before finally landing my apprenticeship as a 4/C table stripper. I was there as the first modern computers, made by Scitex, started being used to create the graphics. I operated a Scitex Assembler, then a Scitex Star, up until they started bringing in the Mac with Photoshop, Illustrator, and QuarkXPress.

At that point, I had finished my four-year apprenticeship and was a journeyman. They were bringing in Mac operators at lower rates. I saw our union breaking, and decided it was a good time for me to go into sales, which all of my bosses had been suggesting to me for a couple of years. Large-format printing was still in its infancy, and was actually called “Photo” back then. I saw this as the next big thing, took a leap of faith, and decided that’s what I would start selling. Three years into that I felt like I had enough knowledge and experience, and started Screaming Images. That was 2002.

Q. What’s it like working in, and for, Sin City?