Screen printing, 'Fun' colors and ‘Pop Art’ graphics

How does a young Swiss woman use her creative building blocks to open up her own studio?

If you are in Frankfurt and are looking for a creative workshop? You want to design & print a T-shirt with professional support? Then contact Nina Egli who has just set up her screen printing studio in Frankfurt. There you find a mix of 'Fun' colors and 'Pop art' graphics in combination with her quirky mind set. Above all, they are also the creative building blocks that Nina uses to set up her own business, her studio 'Jakob&Tatze'.

Screen printing passion meets 'creative mind’

Nina takes her first screen print­ing course during her graph­ic design stud­ies in Switzer­land. After that it is clear to her: this is my medium to present my graph­ics to other people. Even 10 years later, she talks about the pro­cess with spark­ling eyes:

"The abso­lute best thing about screen print­ing is that I can design a pre­cise graph­ic on the com­puter. Using the screen print­ing pro­cess, I can than create a super pro­fes­sion­al print on a tex­tile. Look­ing 1:1 as I designed it on my com­puter screen. Fine lines, accur­ate out­lines and full color print­ing are the big plus for this medium. With wood print­ing or other print­ing tech­niques, there are always vari­ations if you don’t master it super pro­fes­sion­al.  When I print a Tshirt with 'my' colors and my own grafics and then someone wears it with joy - that's already mega cool!"

From hobby to self-employment - Step 1

Already during her stud­ies Nina prints tex­tiles with her own graph­ics. She sells them at design mar­kets in Switzer­land and later in Frank­furt. So early on she has her first cus­tom­er con­tacts and notices what takes off. Even as an employed graph­ic design­er in a com­pany in Frank­furt, she makes time to con­tin­ue with her print­ing pas­sion. In her small 2-room apart­ment she con­verts the stor­age room into a dark­room to expose her print screens. Her desk is the print­ing table and the bathtub is used to wash out the screens. Too many things are hap­pen­ing in her small appart­ment. Next step: Nina rents a work­place in a big studio with other cre­at­ives. There she notices that she gen­er­ates interest with her hobby. Often friends ask her if they can also do a screen print with her. Her Ins­tagram account also grows during this time while she doc­u­ments her work, struggles and joy.

First screen printing workshops - Step 2

And as with many import­ant things - Nina listens to her gut feel­ing and con­siders offi­cially offer­ing screen print­ing classes. But the feel­ing goes hand in hand with cau­tious plan­ning. As a trial she first invites a group of friends for a work­shop in her apart­ment. The enthu­si­asm and feed­back are great at the end of the day and Nina is now cer­tain about the idea and her abil­ity.

"I found it very inspir­ing and ful­filling to teach others. Giving them feed­back on their ideas as well as pro­fes­sion­al advice on colors and graph­ics – mega cool. Most import­antly I noticed that I am really good at it."

Workshop start ... Corona ... and now? - Step 3

Besides her work as a graph­ic design­er in an agency, she offers her first courses on week­ends. But after only 6 months, it's already over again - the Corona Lock­down is here!

"During this time, I also real­ized that it is not my dream to work as a salar­ied graph­ic design­er. Luck­ily, the lock­down gave me time to get even more involved with Ins­tagram. I've always posted stuff. But my way of arran­ging the Stor­ies with my unique per­son­al touch, that came across well. My graph­ic ele­ments, my colors, my ideas, it stood out. Well, I noticed that the num­bers of my fol­low­ers were grow­ing quickly. More and more people were inter­ested in: Who am I! What keeps me busy and excited, what are my ideas!"

Getting serious! - Step 4

At the end of August 2021 Nina quits her job. She finds vari­ous coun­selling offers at the German job center. Also, she attends a coach­ing ses­sions which is installed to guide people through the first steps of self-employ­ment work. In addi­tion it also includes the require­ment to write a busi­ness plan of how to achieve eco­nom­ic goals. This pro­cerss gives Nina the oppor­tun­ity to take advant­age of a start-up grant from the gov­ern­ment.

"Now I real­ize that I should have writ­ten 3 busi­ness plans, since my com­pany con­sists of 3 build­ing blocks. Firstly, I pro­cess print orders for other com­pan­ies, secondly I print my own small 'slow fash­ion' col­lec­tions and thirdly I offer my work­shop classes."

Instagram = Business Tool  - Step 5 

In this phase, Nina also uses Ins­tagram as a 'tool' to exchange ideas with her fol­low­ers. Like Nina, many in the com­munity are self-employed and cre­at­ive people.

"Ques­tions like: Where can I get suit­able pack­aging mater­i­al, or who knows the best place to buy paint? Minor issues are often solved very quickly through the com­munity. I also put my inquiry of 10.000 euros on the crowd fund­ing plat­form 'Start­next’. I still can’t believe how many people sup­por­ted me within 3 weeks. I had posted the cam­paign on Ins­tagram, but I was totally blown away by how fast everything went. I was able than to refin­ance my six-sta­tion rotary press, among other things. At that time, I was still search­ing for a suit­able studio. That really gave me a big head­ache. After a 1-year search, I was almost ready to move to the coun­tryside."

Nina laughs! Surely that wouldn't have happened. She needs the vibe in the city and the exchange with other cre­at­ive people. Then anoth­er stroke of luck. In Octo­ber 2021 she finds her studio close to the city. An upris­ing part of Frank­furt with a fusion of old and new attract­ing other cre­at­ive minds.

Housewarming party + pure coincidence! - Step 6

"In my busi­ness plan I had to also put down the date for the offi­cial open­ing of my studio. But some­times a lot of things just happen to me, and I get lucky. At my open­ing party, a woman came by who has trained as a screen print­er and wants to work with me here. That would be a stroke of luck if I could hire her. There are only a few people nowadays who are going through the pro­fes­sion­al train­ing to be screen print­ers. Now I am cla­rif­ing the form­al­it­ies. I didn’t list the point 'employ­ees' so early in my plan. But since everything is going great. Maybe I make that step sooner."

Instagram - % of daily workload!

Nina sched­ules a few hours a day for Ins­tagram. Her almost 14.000 fol­low­ers not only follow her enthu­si­ast­ic­ally, but everything that goes with her work hap­pens via Ins­tagram. She gen­er­ates her orders via her account. She posts her intern­ship offers and she announces her ‘pop up’ store events on Ins­tagram. Her cli­ents are noti­fied about her absence or vaca­tion time, or a deliv­ery bottle neck.

"I also use Ins­tagram to create trans­par­ency about my busi­ness pro­cess. Many people can't ima­gine why a hand-prin­ted sweat­er should cost so much more money than mass-pro­duced goods in a store. If I show them that each color is prin­ted indi­vidu­ally on a sweat­er by hand. Then the print needs to dry before the next one can be made, then ironed and folded. And of course, I also explain the pre­lim­in­ary work to create the graph­ics and screen-print­ing frames. If people know more about these details, then they are will­ing to pay the appro­pri­ate price for a sweat­er or T-Shirt."


Artistic collaboration 'Let's work together' - Step 7

Anoth­er way to cre­at­ively enrich her col­lec­tions is to col­lab­or­ate with other graph­ic design­ers. Nina is always open to spon­tan­eous cowork­ing.

"At one work­shop, I thought a participant's motif was super cool.  So I asked her to devel­op this fur­ther with me. Now I also search the web for excit­ing people whose graph­ics I like and con­tact them. It gen­er­ates great pro­jects - with people 'known and unknown' in the ‘graph­ic’ scene."

'Handmade & designed' in Frankfurt

For her spe­cial small pro­duc­tion runs on her organ­ic cotton tex­tile, Nina has an extra PLUS to offer. She doc­u­ments the pro­cess pho­to­graph­ic­ally and pre­pares this as an Ins­tagram Story.  Her cus­tom­ers can then use this for their own Ins­tagram stor­ies. What a spe­cial offer when it is executed with such joy and pro­fes­sion­al enthu­si­asm.

'Open ART & Meeting SPACE'!  - Step 8

Nina wouldn't be Nina if she didn't already have more plans and ideas with her mind. Maybe not yet as a busi­ness plan but the vis­ions are already col­or­fully buzz­ing around in her head.

"Even as a child, I wanted to have my own studio! My dream is also to create a place where other cre­at­ives can rent a work­ing desk. A large hall with a window front, so that you can look dir­ectly into the studio when you walk by. I can also ima­gine a small cafe, to be able to relax and to enjoy the cre­at­ive envir­on­ment. I still have some more ideas."

Frankfurt = Creative spot - Step 9

Nina likes living and work­ing in Frank­furt. She is very enthu­si­ast­ic about the city right now and that she has found her suit­able envir­on­ment here.

"There is still a lot of poten­tial - for me and the city. It is Mega Cool that I already have achieved a cer­tain recog­ni­tion factor. This I'd love to use to make the City's cre­at­ive scene more vis­ible. I can also ima­gine my 'Open Space' studio for cre­at­ive events, for net­work­ing meet­ings or as a rent­ing space for a Christ­mas party. Then I can col­lab­or­ate with people in other ways as well."

More about Nina aka 'Jakob&Tatze'.

On her web­site and Ins­tagram account you can get a col­or­ful impres­sion of Nina’s busi­ness and her work life. I'm excited to see what ideas she will announce around her pas­sion for screen print­ing.  And wheth­er she is already offer­ing activ­it­ies with her idea in mind: the 'Open Work & Meet­ing Space'.

Name: Nina Egli

She is:

Screen print­er, graph­ic design­er, founder

To be found:

Frank­furt, Ger­many

Studio JAKOB&TATZE, Leipzi­ger Str. 63-65, 60487 Frank­furt am Main

She likes:

Pan­cakes, pic­ture books and bicycles as well as small spe­cial shops and cafes

She admires:

People who can cook really well

Her WIASOLA tip:

"You don't have to be a pro to start any­thing. Go ahead and learn along the way, step by step."

Her favor­ite pod­casts:

  • Hotel Matze

  • Frisch an die Arbeit

To be found under:

Here you can see Nina in 'action' - print­ing a sweat­er:

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