This week we had the wonderful opportunity of interviewing Miguel, founder of Folio Club, based in the dynamic neighbourhood of Poblenou in Barcelona. This forward thinking company produces graphic consulting and bespoke printing for a range of clients in the city, including us. We decided to start working with Folio Club because of their commitment to producing environmentally friendly ways of printing and their attention to detail. The company has been established for 13 years and has produced some incredible work for different clients.
Tell us about yourself and what your role entails at Folio Club?
We have been here for 12 years, we are not a traditional printing house we have become more than that and tried to be a graphic consultancy too.
Our aim is to collaborate in all aspects of the printing process. From the design, layout, printing and binding providing any graphic solution needed. We try to advise our clients in terms of which materials to use, systems and ways to make their project as close to what they had in mind.
The office space is a small meeting place, where we can promote people and projects that we carry out. We have a space for events and book launches that we print, for illustration shows and other types of events. We also participate in a series of events in the neighbourhood and in the city, such as forums, workshops and fairs.
We belong to the Poblenou Urban District, which is a cultural association here in the neighbourhood and has several events during the year.
You opened The Folio Club 12 years ago, have you always been interested in creative work and graphic design?
No, I didn't always belong to the graphic world. I came to Spain to set up this project and from then on the reception was great and people really liked what we were doing. At the beginning I was doing more of an administrative role at the company. Eventually I really enjoyed working with clients and the operations and production part too.
What does a normal day at the office look like for you?
The days are always different. There are days filled with a lot of stress and pushing for deliveries and timing because at the end of the day we are the last link in the chain of production. The designer takes their time, the client takes their time, but we have the pressure of the due date. At the end of the day, we like the challenge and work well under pressure.
Do you have any interesting projects that you are working on right now?
Yes, we are working on a publication which is a fold-out book, that deals with the migrations of 8 countries, despite being the same project it is done in 8 different languages. We had fun with the layout, it is a fold-out format and very well illustrated. We have also done interesting projects with Paul and Lea in the past for Can Pep Rey.
For our readers who are not familiar with Poblenou, can you tell us why you chose to be here and what is interesting about this "barrio"?
When we arrived in Poblenou, it was more of an industrial barrio, but it has drifted towards a more creative neighbourhood. The creative area used to be El Born, but things have moved towards Poblenou because of the vast spaces the barrio has. All the spaces are open, and it is the perfect area for artists workshops. The location is great and we are well connected to the city centre, plus we are close to the beach which is very nice.
How do you do your best to be environmentally friendly while working in the printing business?
Working in printing is working on demand. That means doing our best to not generate too much stock and not to waste paper and not overprint units we do not need.
Traditional printing is very cost driven, the larger the volume, the lower the cost per unit which created overproduction. Meaning thousands of copies landed up in a container.
In the past, if a publisher did not buy your project, your project did not exist or best case it ended up in someone's drawer in a publishing house and never saw the light of day. Today, with the benefits of newer printing systems, you can generate a book in much smaller quantities. On an environmental level, we work with ink and paper that all come from sustainable forests with FCC certification and also with 100% recycled paper, and we even work with paper with recycled components that give it a differentiating point.
For example, we have a paper called Alga Carta where 30% of the paper is composed of algae from the Venice Lagoon. When they dredged the Venice Lagoon, to make the water levels drop, they took tons algae. Dehydrated, the algae and turned it into paper. This gave a second life to what was made to seem like waste.
How have you managed to stay afloat during the pandemic?
It has been difficult, it is still very difficult. It did not effect us directly, but it did effect a large number of our clients. The problem is that this generates a chain reaction. A lot of our clients work has decreased. Most of the artists we work with rely on subsidies and funding, so this was a loss of creative work during the pandemic. We are focusing a lot more on sectors such as architecture and illustration, which are reliable industries which are doing very well.
Do you feel more comfortable handling bigger accounts and companies?
Coincidentally, those who have larger clients are probably suffering more. I guess if a large account falls and leaves you there is a more negative effect on the business. We have had more than 3000 clients in our client history, but of course, we may see a client once in a lifetime. If it is a photographer, for example we may see them annually to print a magazine. This is the type of clients we work with, low print and run on demand clients.
Can Pep Rey is the perfect example. They are our ideal clients, designing campaigns that does not need 500,000 copies, but maximum 200. This is what we mean by environmental awareness, not overproducing.
For more information visit: https://thefolioclub.com/