San Francisco, CA
I had never had anything printed before, and so this was a new experience for me. My project was to print 2000 Ex Libris platesbasically owners name plates for books. I had commissioned an artist to do the art and I went to Minute Man to do the printing. I went to them because of the favorable reviews on Yelp and elsewhere.
I dealt with Kevin, Jr. He is the owners son. He was a very pleasant and polite young man. He communicated with consummate professionalism in our multitude of emails and phone conversations. This project went a little sideways once or twice and became unexpectedly challenging, and so I was glad that I was dealing with a really likable person.
The artist had envisioned that our piece would be offset printed. He designed the art with that in mind. I definitely wanted to use a metallic paper. Kevin Jr. had a few samples to show me, but he didnt have the type of gold I wanted. (It is called antique gold.) I emailed Kevin Jr. a sample and then he found a supplier who carried the paper that exactly met my expectations. Kevin Jr. ran a few sample test prints on the digital machine and they looked good. I hoped the black would pop more when we used the offset press, but the test plates looked very promising. This gold paper I liked was considerably more expensive than the initial papers wed been looking at, and so the stakes were being raised.
The first problem we encountered: this paper wouldnt receive the ink from the offset press the way we hoped. I guess the ink wouldnt sink in and it was unknown how long it would take for it to dry. So, both Kevin Jr. and Sr. encouraged me to use the digital printing process. Kevin Jr. experimented with the inks on the digital printer to see if he could get the black darker so that it completely blocked off the metallic gold under the image. He found that if he used all the colors in the ink formula, the black was considerably darker. The only downside was, again, color printing is more expensive, and so my price went up another $180 or so.
And then, apparently, something was happening as they printed themthe red was running, and some of the prints were getting scuffed. It was a tedious task for them because Kevin Jr had to inspect the each of the prints closely as they ran off the machine. This was apparently not a standard printing job for them, as I think Minute Man Press mostly does brochures and fliers and the like, and this was more of a boutique-type specialty job.
Well, Kevin Jr. and his digital printer kept at it, and I finally got the call: they were all done. I went and picked them up: they are AMAZING. Kevin Jr. looked a little tired, and hes probably glad to be finally be free of me, but I think he took pride in knowing that he printed some spectacular specialty plates that will go into hundreds of books and be around for potentially hundreds of years.
I particularly liked working with Kevin Jr., but whomever answers the phone over there is super friendly. The place is extremely professional and the business is a real asset to the Rancho Cucamonga community. Small family businesses like this are the traditional core of America, in my opinion, and it was nice to deal with one which does such good work even when there are unexpected challenges.
I fully recommend Minute Man Press, and Im confident you will as well.
Yes, the atmosphere and cleanliness at Zulu Tattoo is first-rate, and the neighborhood is upscale if not fully swanky. But I would have been happy to go into a dark alley for my dragon tattoo if I knew the artist was sufficiently technically superb. My goal was to get a great tattoo, and to have my personal vision fulfilled, not some pretentious artists vision.
Well, I can assure you that Zulu is an absolute perfectionist. He is both an artistic visionary and a technically superb craftsman. I liked it that he didnt impose the former on the latter in my casehe gladly let me explain what I had in mind, and then, liking where I wanted to go, he fulfilled it for me with great enthusiasm.
My wife told me yesterday, Ive never heard you brag about anything.but you wont stop bragging about your dragon. I was looking at it under the jewelers loupe for the hundredth time as she said this. Even under magnification, I see every line is smooth, every angle exacting, and every surface perfectly filled-in. Ive shown this tribal dragon tattoo to about twenty people now, and even people who hate tattoos say Wow, if I were to get a tattoo, thats the way Id want it! Others who know tattoos say things like Yeah, you can tell that was done by somebody super high-end. Thats serious art you got there. And almost everyone agrees that it is the best tattoo of its kind that theyve ever seen.
Zulu the artist may be towering, but Zulu the man is soft spoken and modest. My concerns about Zulu being too Hollywood or boutique were completely unfounded: he is a down-to-Earth, warm and friendly man who is knowledgeable about almost everything and just a delight to chat with. My tattoo took about three hours, and every minute of that was filled with really interesting conversation. I felt like calling him the next day just to talk, but I figured the next person he was tattooing maybe wouldnt appreciate that!! But in addition to walking out of there with a great tattoo, you will walk out of there feeling like youve made a new friend and reassured that there are still cool people to be discovered in Los Angeles.
Zulu is not just another hip tattoo artist: he is a true scholar of tattooing and the history of tattoo. He has traveled the world studying different methods/meanings of tattooing, and the manner/technique in which tattoos are imposed in different cultures. He also has 25 years experience. If Zulu were to teach tattoo-related subjects at a University, he would be the Ivy-League instructor that everyone wanted.
Zulu was kind enough to go over and re-do an octopus I had previously had done which had faded. I could tell he was a little tired after doing my dragon, but he knew it was a long drive for me to go out there, and so he gladly went over the octopus while I was there. It looks great.
Both the dragon and the octopus look awesome a week later. The healing process was fastmuch faster than my octopus the first time through. And these things are BLACKthe organic ink that Zulu uses makes them just pop off my arms.
Khani, Zulus wife who handles scheduling and logistics, was a pleasure to deal with. The price was a bargain for what I got.
Parking was little tricky. The meter was fine for my consultation, but I used the valet for my actual session, and they close up between 3:00 and 5:00. Well, I came out at 3:15 and I couldnt get my car, so I had to keep busy for a while, which was a little inconvenient. I bet my car could have been retrieved if I knew where to go, but no one I asked was sure how to get it. So, I went and had a Panini at a nearby restaurant and behaved myself.
Bottom-line: this place is the best-of-the-best. My dragon is incredible, and the entire experience of getting it with Zulu was wonderful.