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Meet Hugo...
Posted by: HoboSylvain | 2013-12-18 19:29:20 | Cuauhtemoc, The Federal District, Mexico
Keywords: Interview, printer
Hugo does a very interesting job along with dozens others like him on the Plaza de Santo Domingo in the historic centre of Mexico. He customizes stationary items to the name of the clients. In the various booths of the plaza, you may find calendars, invitations, forms, etc... any form of stationary that can be customized and imprinted with your name and address. Hugo's booth only does calendars, offered in various formats.

The most popular sizes are the business cards and the half-sheet size cartons. But they also offer wall and desk calendars in various formats. Each format is available in a large selection of designs... ranging from religious icons to totally naked and exposed women... with cars, kids cartoons, touristic sites and nature beautiful pictures. You pick and chose your blank cards from the rack (can mix as many designs as you want) then pick up the font to be used... and write down the text to be printed. You can pay up front or upon reception. Of course price varies depending on the format used and the number of copies you want. My order was placed in queue for processing, I went to pick them up the next day.

It's a very manual job and it often means to stand up for long periods of time... but he takes breaks during the day so he's happy with that. He likes the job because it's nice to help people and propagate the business name of his clients around... so if it's good for their business, it's good for his too (because they'll return). With so many other printers sitting side by side, the competition is fierce... and the quality is the most important thing otherwise the customers will go to the next booth, which is just centimetres away!

So, to achieve maximum quality, Hugo takes many trial shots to make sure the card is positioned well on his printing press. To achieve maximum placement, he used little pins onto which he drops the card... then pulls the lever. After the first test print, he reads the text to see if he spots any errors. If so, he consults with his colleague who assembled the plate to ensure it's in line with the customer's request. Once the positioning is perfect, he checks out the quality of the printing. Sometimes some letters don't put as much pressure as the others so they come out with a weaker print. He then shims out the plate from the back using paper pieces held in place with saliva. After a few test prints he gets the quality he wants... and begins the production.

That's a very old process that has been lost in over-industrialized countries... where that would be done with a computer printer for small batches. But it's another sign of the large creativity deployed by Mexicans to earn a living and helping others while doing something they like. Hugo's press is very low-tech and requires little to no maintenance, almost never breaks, doesn't need electricity and it's very low-cost to operate. Plus with all his lever pulling, Hugo doesn't need to go to the gym :-)

That printing job allows Hugo to earn a good living and he works at his booth with his wife and a colleague who assembles the plate for him to press. He lived in Mexico city all his life. What he enjoys is the music in plazas and bars, accompanied with tequila, and the fact the beaches are not that far away (in Acapulco). What he doesn't like about the city is the traffic (yes, it is infernal!).

Thank you Hugo for the education and for delivering good products to your customers (including myself).

Related posts:
Meet Bartolomé
Meet Don Oviedo
Meet Margret
Meet Don José Luis Partida Garcia
Meet Rosa


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