"I would rather be ahead of the curve."
By Jake Widman
Lynn Krinsky, president of Seattle-based Stella Color, started out with what seems like primitive technology by today's standards. "I did rubdown transfers," she recalls. "My customers – graphic designers – would go buy Pantone paper, we would mix the ink, take the sheets of Rubylith that they had cut, and we would make, say, a three-color comp."
But when Krinsky saw her first digital printer, there was no looking back. "One day in 1990," she says, "an Iris printer salesman darkened my door. He said, 'You don't have to mix all those inks. We have a way you can do it through your computer.' I went to New Bedford, Massachusetts, to see and I was hooked."
Stella has grown a lot since then. The shop now has an HP Designjet L65500 latex printer, two HP Designjet 5000s, and a 6100; an EFI Vutek QS3220 126-inch printer; a Leggett & Platt (now Polytype America) 98-inch flatbed printer; three Mimaki dye-sublimation printers as well as a Mimaki JV-3 62-inch 4-color solvent printer; and a Xerox Docucolor.
Krinsky was interested in sustainable printing from the beginning, but she also cites the business benefits of seeking SGP certification.
"I've been on the path for a while, and getting certified looked like a really good thing to do," she says. "It's hard, but it makes you get more organized in your business. You have to keep track of things. We keep logs on our equipment, so I'm no longer guessing when we last cleaned the heads or changed the filters – it's all written down. And because all the equipment is monitored and maintained, it's going to last longer and print well. And if you're printing better, you don't have as many redos. It's the whole gestalt."
Nevertheless, sometimes the best intentions have led Krinsky to go too far in an effort to be environmentally sound. "I had an electrician come in and put in automatic light switches in the lunchroom and the men's and ladies' rooms, because nobody was turning off the lights. And then the city of Seattle had a program to promote energy-efficient lighting, so I ponied up and got all the new lights. They were supposed to last longer, but they kept going out in the lunchroom and in the two bathrooms. Finally, I did some research and found out that those kinds of energy-efficient bulbs shouldn't be on a timer, because the constant on and off makes them wear out. So I had the electrician come back and put the regular light switches back in – in the long run, it's greener to leave the lights on."
As far as her customers go, Krinsky says their attitudes are "all over the map."
"There are plenty of people who completely understand what I'm saying," she says, "and other people who understand what I'm saying and reject it. A lot of the sustainable materials might have a rough edge. You can show it to some people and they say, 'Oh my, that looks fabulous.' And another 50 percent will go, 'Will you look at that edge? I can't have that in my store.'
"Other people are stubborn because a directive comes from above. Maybe they were told to use Sintra. We show them something that's stiff like Sintra, prints beautifully, and is completely recyclable, but because someone else specified it, they can't make the move."
Still, Krinsky has no doubts that she's on the right path. She even sees a political upside to print shops' embrace of sustainable printing: "I am of the mind that if we all don't do it and have organizations that are third-party certifiers, then the government is going to start telling us what to do. The farther we get down this road ourselves, though, the government will probably follow along. I would rather be ahead of the curve."