Howard Quinn has been printing in the same location since 1961. When I began shooting photographs and video at Howard Quinn in January, it was like stepping into a time capsule of printing technology and San Francisco history. The building which houses the printing company was built in 1920’s and tinplate tiles from the era adorn ceilings on the lower level. The smell of printers ink and oil saturate the air, and around every turn is evidence of a half century of hard work, deadlines met, and the pride of customer satisfaction. They know every idiosyncrasy of their presses and every nuance of pre-press. Howard Quinn’s output has shaped the community and stands as a tribute to the power of the printed word.
My work on this project is often focused on the societal effects of newspaper presses, but for printing companies that is rarely a concern. Printing is after all a business, and that business is focused around meeting deadlines and customer satisfaction. In my conversations with the management at Howard Quinn, one thing was abundantly clear: the thing they were most proud of was treating their employees with fairness and respect and allowing them to earn a good living. Many of the employees have spent their entire working lives at this company and never once were they subject to the pay cuts which have plagued the rest of the newspaper industry. There is an overwhelming feeling of family and loyalty, which every employee recognizes is a rarity in today’s work environment. Howard Quinn was one of the remnants of the robust print industry that once thrived in San Francisco.
By Sean Dana