‘Positive change’ – Printed by usPosted by: Ashley Birch
From l - r: Amy Rotherham, James Creed and his wife Jo (and a third of their triplets!)
The Sheffield printing project, Printed by us, is helping vulnerable people in Sheffield learn new skills and create positive change
Pete McKee’s latest exhibition, This Class Works, opened at the weekend, and as part of the exhibition a local printer and social enterprise, Printed by us, was given the opportunity to contribute nine pieces.
Printed by us collaborated with the Sheffield Print Club, creating the ‘Department of Wealth and Privilege’, which included images from artists, including Kid Acne and Nick Deakin, and has been printed by people in Sheffield who may have experienced homelessness and other complex issues.
Amy at the McKee exhibition
The project has been going for about two-years and operates as part of Just Works that ‘aim to support people overcoming obstacles in their lives using a variety of techniques, tailored around individual needs’, and is part of the wider Archer Project that supports homeless and vulnerable people in Sheffield.
James Creed, operations manager for Printed by us, said: “It came about a couple of years ago now. We realised that people who were coming through the project, who had got some stability, who had got benefits sorted and were off the street, didn’t have anywhere to go afterwards.”
Amy Rotherham, who also works in operations, added: “There is no support for them either. I’ve heard projects just expect people to go back into normal work, and normal schemes, and they’re expected to have no time off, and not be late. Their circumstances aren’t really taken into consideration.”
Amy Rotherham (left) and Andrea, who works on Kust Works cleaning contracts in collaboration with Sheffield BID
Printed by us works as a micro business for people to gain experience in a field they may never have tried before. James said: “We work with local artists running screen printing workshops. Sometimes we are able to buy the rights to screen print a local artist, then we do the printing and take it to market, either online or at pop-up events.
“We’ve also branched out into printing onto mugs and tote bags, and six months ago we started offering customised t shirt printing.
“As long as it’s viable for us we can print it,” says Amy: “It tends to be larger orders. We’ll never be the cheapest because we source everything ethically, and we pay staff the real living wage, not just minimum wage.
Any profits, or ‘surpluses’ that is made is reinvested back into the business, and helps them to put on more workshops.
'Strong and Northern' t shirt
The McKee exhibition marks the first time Printed by us has attempted a show on this scale and they had just three and a half weeks to turn the work round. “We had people who worked on the McKee exhibition who had never done anything like it before,” says Amy: “and they have been part of a really great thing – It’s a benefit for the community.
“The main message is about positive change. Our hashtag is #printingpositivechange.”
They also have an exhibition that has been up in Ink and Water for eight months and the works is now stocked in Union Street, as well as the Cathedral’s shop.
Kid Acne's print as part of the Department of Wealth and Privilege at the Mckee exhibition
James told us: “We want to be the go-to place for custom t shirt printing. It’s just about telling people what we do.”
So with that in mind, here’s some of the things they’re doing: Tomorrow they are the Well Being Festival in Barkers Pool tomorrow, and on Saturday and Sunday you can find them at the Folk Forest.
The McKee exhibition runs until 29 July and Printed by us special edition prints are available from the exhibit’s shop. For more info check their website out here.