Dschwen: What was your professional trajectory before starting the cactus shop?
Erik Hamline: I went to college in Seattle for graphic design and came back home to Minneapolis to work as a designer at Studio on Fire. During this time I also started my own little oddball print experiment, Hot Snot, with a friend. Shortly afterwards, I took a design job in Philly and headed out east. The traditional agency gig quickly lost its luster, and I essentially got fed up and walked off. I tried to get a print shop off the ground in Philly or NYC, but cost of living and lack of available space led me back to Minneapolis.
I was fortunate to hit the ground running with Steady Co. in Minneapolis. It was roughly 50% design and 50% printing for the first four years, before transitioning to all flatstock printing. When I gave up the design work, I was at a point where I could either expand into a larger space and bring on a few folks or stay as-is and turn down projects. I was extremely fortunate to be in that place in my mid 20’s, but I wanted to stay focused on the ideal of the small shop. After another few years, I hit the same expansion predicament again. I was burning the wick at both ends to keep clients happy, and stress kept piling up. I saw my late 20’s pass way too quickly, and I decided to change my life as a whole and shut the shop down completely.
Dschwen: What would you say was your bread & butter as a screen printer?
Erik Hamline: It was nearly all music-related. Concert posters were the mainstay, with LP covers and music packaging of all sorts thrown in the mix. I wish I could count all the bands that I’d worked for. It was definitely several hundred. Probably something like 2,000-3,000 different posters in total. It sort of gets to a point of barely even looking at the artwork and just hyper-focusing on the technical side.
I prided myself on the dedicated attention and service I could provide as a one-person shop. I was the owner, client manager, printer and janitor. Having an eye on everything and allowing clients to deal with me in that capacity was really important to me.