I was born/grew up in: I grew up in Sherwood Park, Alberta.
I now live in: I live in Regina, Saskatchewan.
I completed my training/education at: I went to SIAST (now Sask Polytechnic), Regina Campus. I complete a Graphics Communications Diploma.
What I do at work
I work in Bindery. Anything that happens to paper after it has been printed, and before it goes to the customer, is my job. This includes cutting, laminating, mounting onto foam core, gluing, and folding. It is all that hands-on stuff!
In my role, I work with lots of machinery. The biggest machine I run is an inserter. It takes flat pieces of paper (think, your utility bill), folds and stuffs it into an envelope that is then sealed and ready to be mailed out! Other media, such as a return envelope or an insert with key information about rates, can also be inserted into the envelope at the same time. I also run a laminator, an industrial cutter (which can take a stack of paper of up to 3 inches tall and cut it all at once!), a pressure sealer and a coil binder.
I look after the large black and white, and colour printers to make sure they are running all the jobs correctly. I also have a plotter, which can print on a very large scale. Imagine 30 inches wide by 100 inches in height if needed! I look at colour and registration marks to double check the printer is reading the pdf files and outputting the right colours. My problem solving techniques come in handy when removing paper jams from any of my machines. If I can’t find the jam myself, I check with the manual that came in the box under the jam sections. If I still can’t fix it, then I call in a technician to work on the machine that’s broken.
I work as part of team. The designer gives me the files to print. I have to work very closely with this person so that I can tell visually if the printer’s colour is off. If I think something printed incorrectly, I have to check with the designer who made the file and knows what the colours are supposed to be. I use mathematic calculations, mostly in inches, on all of my printed jobs. I do this so that I know what the final size of the paper is going to be.
My career path is
In high school, I expected myself to become a 3D Animator. However, when I started looking into programs, I would have had to go across the country and gotten into a lot of debt. I didn’t want to start out my adult life like that, so I took a look at artistic classes that were available closer to home. I really lucked out that Graphic Communications sounded exactly like what I wanted to do. I liked that it required creativity and was still a media of working with your hands. The course was only two years! I got a diploma. I did a one-month internship near the end of my schooling and was offered the job after. Unfortunately, it was in another city and I wanted to return home. Once home, I had a bit of difficulty finding a job. I don’t regret coming home at all! I found a job in a little after two months of being home. I’m currently at that same job!
I am motivated by
I love going to work because it means I get to work with my hands. I am unable to sit at a desk all day and feel content. I like seeing things I’ve made out in the real world. For example, seeing a poster with information about an upcoming community event – I printed, laminated, and cut that out! I get excited when I see new ways of doing things. For example, a new printer might have better toner usage and be less wasteful. Or perhaps the printer has more drawers to load paper into, so I don’t have to swap out the paper as often.
I’m motivated to go to work because I get the opportunity to work independently which allows me to focus on my tasks at hand. I was and am the kind of person who prefers electronic correspondence over in person meetings. This allows me to review requests and work with my team to figure out the best, and most cost effective, way to complete an idea someone would like turned into a printed item. I have found a good balance for what works for me!
How I affect peoples’ lives
My career matters because without me, nobody would get a paper bill in the mail! In the digital age, that seems silly to say but there are many people still want a hardcopy sent to them. I also print signs and mail important information out. Some things I print are one way arrows, posters, parking tickets, or the carbon copy papers so that when you get a bylaw infraction notice, you have the exact same copy as what would be kept on file when you call the office to deal with your next steps.
Outside of work I
I enjoy many different activities. I have a border collie, so I’m constantly walking around the block with him. I read a ton of books (each year my reading goal goes up to see if I can beat my previous record!), and play video games. I’m currently playing Animal Crossing: New Horizons, Paper Mario: Origami King, and Kingdom Hearts 3. I volunteer with Skills Canada, and a post-card exchanging subreddit.
My advice to others
My advice to anyone interested in a graphic career is to get familiar with what the output would be. Watch some tutorials on the different design programs and pick up some books about designing. If you fall in love, then perfect! It’s time to look for some course descriptions that match what you’re seeing. If you know you want to be creative then pick up the course descriptions and go through them until you find the art-centered ones.