We love the opportunity to get to know our DA friends better, so we’re happy to get the chance to speak with Dow Goodfolk‘s Studio & Production Manager Ben Dean. We spoke to Ben about his career trajectory, the Dow Groups production set up, the print finishes and technologies he is excited about, the work he takes pride in, a continual improvement mindset to pick up new tips and tricks, and his competitive home brew hobby!
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Kia Ora Ben, can you describe the creative path you took to get where you’re at now?
I discovered Photoshop while studying Art & Design at college (year 12/13 in New Zealand’s education system – I’m from the UK). My tutor suggested I should go on to study Graphic Design at university so I did. The design side was fun and led to me working at a magazine publishing company as both a designer and retoucher, however, after moving on from there I focused on the retouching side and started to learn more about print and production. Fast forward to 2007, I imported myself to New Zealand and worked as a freelance artworker and retoucher for lots of different design, advertising and marketing agencies around Auckland, I did this for 9 years before settling into a permanent role at Dow Group as their production manager.
What do you enjoy most about your job as Head of Production at Dow Goodfolk?
I love a print challenge. Putting my head together with printers and pre-press departments to navigate difficult jobs and get the best possible results for our clients from the print process. That and the retouching.
What does your typical day at Dow Goodfolk involve?
Our production department is small and works across a wide variety of clients so there is not really a typical day, once I’ve cleared my emails it could be anything. Today I have been setting up artwork files for some cartons as part of a rebrand for one of our clients, meeting with a sales rep to demo some new laser printers (for the studio), and planning workflow for next week with our account service team.
What insight can you give us to your cutting room and production setup at DG?
The cutting room is simple but well equipped for our needs and enables us to create some nice mockups for clients and internal use. Our production setup is pretty standard, iMacs running with a second screen, Wacom tablets, Adobe CC, and I have Cinema 4D on my machine for creating 3D product renders, we also have an Epson large format proofing printer hooked up to a GMG rip for running out final proofs. The physical environment is open plan so all departments at Dow Group can interact easily with one another, it makes for quite a social space.
What project, personal or professional, are you most proud of and why?
Professionally it’s difficult to choose, I’ve worked across so many great projects alongside highly skilled individuals. One that does come to mind is the Tortoise & the Hare wine label I worked on for Dow Group’s 25th birthday celebration. It wasn’t a particularly complex job, but as it was a small print run we had the budget to source a really nice label stock and really go to town with the foiling. Rapid Labels who printed the job entered it into the Pride In Print Awards and it came first in the label category which is also nice. Personally, I would have to say my first music release on Vinyl back in 2003, listening back to it now it isn’t that great, but I was young(ish), worked my arse off, and it was quite an achievement for me at the time.
Is there a project you have undertaken in the last 12 months that is memorable because it challenged you? If so what did you learn from it?
No individual project comes to mind. Every job has its challenges, we are often working with print processes that have limitations on what can be reproduced, so I’m always learning new tricks to help get a finished product that meets client and designer expectations.
What are your favorite production tools or processes?
I don’t really have anything that takes preference, I have been enjoying Cinema 4D a lot lately though, I’ve been using it a few years now but it’s such a deep program that very time I’m using it is a learning experience.
Which technologies or innovations in design / print production are you excited about?
I’m probably most excited about the more environmentally friendly inks and materials that are coming onto the market, and that printers/suppliers are actively promoting the use of them.
Where do you draw inspiration from?
At work my inspiration comes from the projects themselves. I’m working to a brief, using my technical skills and knowledge to make sure we deliver on the client and designers vision. The methods and processes I use to get the result are determined by the challenges I’m faced with throughout the job. In my personal life I get my inspiration from my wife & daughter, friends, music, spending time outdoors.
Outside of work hours what projects and/or hobbies are you involved with?
Outside of work I enjoy spending time in my studio at home making music. I’m also a keen home brewer, a bunch of us have a fun competition every 3 months where we all throw in $10 per beer we enter and the winner takes home all the money.
Finally, where can people connect with you and or see more of your work?
Since being in a permanent position my website has gone to rack and ruin, so the best place currently to see my work would be at dowgoodfolk.co.nz. If people want to connect with me I can be contacted at email@example.com for anything Dow Goodfolk related and firstname.lastname@example.org for anything else. I also have a LinkedIn profile, I’m not very active on there but do respond to messages.