Saturday Feb 04, 2023

The Wallcoverings Industry Is Set for Disruption and John Mark Ltd Is Leading the Field – WhatTheyThink


One of the trends that emerged from the pandemic was an increased focus on décor — home, office and otherwise. And that included a resurgence in interest in wallpaper. New technologies, including high quality production inkjet printing and equipment designed specifically to output short runs of customized wallpaper, have made it easier than ever before to produce bespoke wallpaper. And designers and producers alike are taking advantage of this trend. In this article, compliments of textiles expert and WhatTheyThink contributor Debbie McKeegan, we highlight the work of John Mark Watson of John Mark LTD as an inspiration to others.

The wallcoverings industry is set for disruption. As a sector, creativity is instrumental in its ongoing success, and the balance between the design element and the materials used is of paramount importance.

When digital inkjet technologies first emerged some 20 years ago, the graphics industry was the first to be disrupted and to digitize production, closely followed by the wallcoverings industry. Early adopters specialized in photographic reproductions and off-the-shelf customized wallpaper. Thus, the wallpaper mural was born.

The next chapter in this evolution is attributed to the knowledge and skill of the digital pioneers with a deep understanding of traditional wallcoverings, the marketplace, its community, and the creative edge that needs to be deployed for commercial success.

This is the story of a new era of digital production for roll-to-roll wallpapers, where creativity flourishes at any volume, to carve a new industry, freed from mass production and where technology is developed in partnership with the print pioneer. 

In today’s interview we talk with John-Mark Watson of John Mark Ltd, who has utilized HP technology to build an impressive production facility, and a company that nurtures the creative community and the advancement of digital technology. We sat down with John-Mark to learn more about his lifelong passion and love for the wallcoverings industry, manufacturing and its nuances.

Debbie McKeegan: When was John Mark Ltd founded and what machine output did you have back then?

John-Mark Watson: We started in May 2012. We had one HP LX 600, the second generation of the Latex technology from HP. Soon after that, we then bought a small L26500, as a sampling machine. AVA CAD CAM provided us with our RIP and our color management system. But back then in the early days, we couldn’t we get color samples from large machine to print on a small sampling machine and vice versa. It was never close enough—in wallcoverings a close match isn’t a color match. Finally, and I attribute this progress to the help we received from Jane Rixon at HP, AVA were allowed access into the HP software, and the issues with color matching and color continuity were finally resolved.

The following year, May 2013, we bought an LX 820 and then a second LX 820 in November 2013. So, in total, we had three large wide-width printers and one small sample printer. And I must say, in those days, they were very temperamental. They were nothing like what they are today. We were pushing those machines to the limits, as they were really only designed for doing small signage and graphics, and we were actually producing hundreds and hundreds of rolls of wallpaper through them right from the very start. I was there in production running 24/7 all on my own. I had one guy doing prepress and sending the work from the iMacs to the HP printers. I was doing all the delivery notes. I …….


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