This isn't the first recession Bill Moran's
Founded in 1996, the Lowertown print shop and design studio rode out the "dot bomb" collapse (largely on the back of letterpress printing, fittingly), and Blinc has emerged from the recent economic woes well positioned, if not unscathed.
After a "precipitous drop-off in work from clients, we sort of stumbled through 2009 and 2010," says Blinc proprietor Moran, "and then round about August, September, it just kicked back in again."
Now, the four-person shop is booked through midyear with work for clients like new customer Blue Plate Restaurant Company. Blinc recently helped them launch Scusi at St. Clair and Fairview in St. Paul and is now branding their next endeavor, The Lowry, which Blue Plate plans to open this summer near 22nd and Hennepin in Uptown.
Blue Plate is just one of the large, regular customers Moran is focused on. Blinc also helped long-time customer Minnetronix with the identity branding of a new product in January. Moran also mentions a few not-yet-for-publication projects on the horizon.
That may be a good sign for more than just Blinc, which Moran agrees serves as a bellwether for larger corporate activity. "My business is, in some ways, a reflection of [our clients'] business," he says.
Customers dialed down and halted projects in 2009 and 2010. Now, stalled projects have started moving forward, and Moran finds himself in less of a reactive position in terms of marketing to clients--focusing on fewer, larger customers and bigger projects, and even passing on work he would not (or could not) have two years ago.
The turnaround has allowed him to rehire two longtime employees, and another is sustained as a freelancer.
Meanwhile, buzz is generating around the Hamilton Woodtype Museum
in Wisconsin, of which Moran is artistic director and his brother Jim is museum director. A documentary about it is making the rounds at film festivals, and PBS will soon begin airing the film.
Work from the Hamilton Museum and Moran's studio will also be featured in a retail poster shop, part of an exciting multi-firm and multi-tenant-space entertainment and retail development planned for Downtown St. Paul. (Stay tuned for more on this soon.)
Source: Bill Moran, Blinc Publishing
Writer: Jeremy Stratton