Corey Lewis, 29
Senior Print Producer
How he got his start: There was never a time when my life wasn’t affected by the transformative power of print and design. My grandfather, a first-generation immigrant from Germany, was able to start and provide for his family by working at a paper mill. My grandmother broke down barriers as an art director in the 1960s. Throughout my childhood, my father worked as a production manager at many of the best printers in the country. I remember job-shadowing my dad for a day and thinking his work was the coolest—being able to take that creative vision and make it come to life in print.
Looking back on my career development, I see how print has always been calling out to me. I went to college to study Latin. I’m incredibly grateful for my academic background and feel like it made me a more well-rounded and interesting individual. But after college with a background in a dead language, I was wondering “now what?”
My dad asked the owners of Color Image, a printer in Chicago’s West Loop neighborhood, to take a chance on me and give me a full-time job. After working at printers for four years, learning everything I could, I made the switch to the agency side.
His current role: I’m a senior print producer at AbelsonTaylor, an independently owned health- and wellness-focused advertising agency based in Chicago. Whenever our clients need something printed, I work with our talented creative team to ensure the job is designed for the appropriate production method. Then, I work with external suppliers to ensure the job is produced on time and exceeding expectations.
What he likes best about his job: I love the variety. ... One day I can be working on large-format trade show panels for an upcoming exhibit, the next day I could be working with an offset printer for a run of brochures, another day I could be working on custom-printed phone chargers with a promotional company.
Age roadblocks and advantages: People can be taken aback by youth, especially when you’re a leader providing vendors direction and trying to get projects done.
My time working for a printer kept me humble, and print people are some of the best and most down-to-earth individuals to work with. In my experience, if you come to the table with helpful suggestions and good knowledge, people are more apt to let their guard down. Once people realize you know what you’re talking about, age isn’t so much of an issue.
I do view my age as an advantage, however, in being able to pivot and stay nimble. I always want to stay relevant, so I will jump feet first into a new piece of technology and try to learn whatever I can.
His biggest career influence: My father, Charles Lewis, who’s now the vice president of business development and sales at Palmer Digital Group, for helping me get my start in the industry. The owners of Color Image, Gil Semmen and Tom O’Donnell, for taking a chance on a young kid with no experience. ... Vince Campofiore, the owner of Centermark Graphics, for being my constant mentor and friend, and certainly Mitch Apley, the vice president of print production and broadcast at AbelsonTaylor, for overseeing our group of producers and providing an awesome culture where we can execute world-class creative.
His most meaningful business accomplishment: I’ve worked on more than seven new product launches within my last five years of working at AbelsonTaylor, bringing new products and medications to the world. This includes everything from rare diseases, oncology and migraine prevention. Launches are hectic. We’re trying to print all the promotional materials for the brand within a short period of time as soon as the FDA says “go.” That means a lot of late nights and crazy deadlines. But it’s worth it, because when everything is said and done, we’re helping to promote a new treatment for patients who really need it. The chance to impact lives so positively while doing what I love is certainly my most meaningful accomplishment.
His differentiating factor: Being adaptable is key to surviving a changing print world. On my end, a lot of the more traditional offset work and large web runs are going away, but digital solutions are rapidly rising to meet the demand for low-quantity print runs. With new print equipment like the Scodix and the HP Indigo, it’s even possible to print with high-quality, specialty print techniques on small runs. I’ve embraced the digital revolution wholeheartedly.
I also see other areas of print continue to grow more sophisticated. I’m busier with exhibit and convention work than I have ever been before. The quality of large-format, direct-to-substrate printing continues to increase with some presses being able to print more than 1200 DPI.
Packaging is a robust area of printing growth, with clients becoming more discerning than ever, seeking out new ways to make packaging more sustainable and eliminate excess parts to make it a better opening experience for the consumer.
Why he believes the future is bright: The level of innovation coming from the print industry continues to be astonishing. New digital presses with greater quality and capability, rivaling offset; lighter-weight fabric tension and SEG graphics in both the exhibit and OOH industries to save on drayage expense; greater and more widespread adherence to color quality and consistency with G7 color standards—the industry is rising to meet significant demands from the market and improving quality along the way.