Il Pleut Screenprinting

What is Il Pleut and what are you all about?

H: Il Pleut is a small independent screen printing company, trying our hardest to be as environmentally conscious as possible, producing high-quality affordable garments for the common man. We support the underdogs and there’s no job too small! We like to protect the innocent from the mass market. 

S: We’ve been doing this for around two years now, as we’re about to file our second tax return. That’s normally how I remember.ilpleut_portraits

Who’s behind Il Pleut and how did you guys get into screen printing?

H: Il Pleut is run by myself, Dan Hamlyn and my pal here, Sam Ratcliffe. I personally started doing it as a hobby when I was a young man, almost 10 years ago now! After that though, I worked in a screen printing factory for a while but I wasn’t really digging the large manufacturing aspect of it. I was more interested in doing screen printing creatively rather than on a bulk business scale. After I stopped working there, I started thinking about running my own business and hit up Sam! ‘Yo Sam, do you wanna help me set up my own business?’ and Sam was all ‘Yeah man! I’ll help you set that up!’. Sam is the brains, as I have a bad case of sieve mind.

S: I don’t personally have a lot of experience with screen printing. I did it once or twice in college, that old chestnut, but that’s about it to be honest. I basically got involved because Dan was enthusiastic about it and I didn’t like my job at the time. I was working at Currys, and not enjoying it one bit. I quit that, so between Il Pluet and working as a sound engineer at local venues, it all just lined up. In the same week that I quit Currys, Dan left his job at the factory, and it basically fell into place.

H: We decided to go ahead with everything and the super nice people at Last Shop Standing Record Store let us use their back room while we got set up. We were there for about 6 months or so.
S: Yeah, I’d say about 6 months, because we were well into the place we are now when we did our first tax return… see, that’s how I remember. When we started, we really didn’t have any money to put into starting this. We both put in like £100 each, as that was about all we had at the time.

H: Every order we got, we would give Last Shop Standing a bit of money from the order towards the rent of the back room. We’d print their merchandise t-shirts for free too. There was a real community vibe there, so it was good to contribute to that when we could.

S: When that place closed down, we moved into the fancy studio that was Dan Hamlyn’s bedroom.

H: Yeah, we were printing in my bedroom, shooting screens in my shower and reclaiming old screens in Sam’s back garden.

S: Yep! We would walk old screens from Baring Street in Greenbank, all the way to Laira for about a month. We eventually got fed up of doing that, as you can imagine, and we had a space lined up with the guys at Dust N Bones Tattoo so as soon as we could get in there, we did. We’ve been there for well over a year now.

H: We’re definitely happy there. It also puts us in the eye of that culture, which is never bad for business. We do get a bit of work from the tattoo world, it’s good to have returning customers from that industry.
S: We also got a lot of help starting up from Mikee, the man behind VinoSangre, another screen printing company based in Cornwall. He took us under his wing in a manner of speaking. He’s our friend anyway, so he helped us at any opportunity. He gave us advice and helped us get equipment for cheaper.
H: He got the same help from a gentleman called Dan, who’s the guy behind Pressure and Ink Screenprinting, based in Cologne, Germany. We got introduced to him by Mikee, so he gives us a helping hand too, which is cool. When I’m in Germany, I’ll go help him out too. ilpleut_hamlyn

So what’s the story behind the name?

H: It’s French for ‘it is raining’. I had it written down in a notebook as something I wanted to use for a band name idea or something. I had a Facebook and a Tumblr set up under that name and it was mainly somewhere for me to post pictures of printing I’d done for friends or their bands etc. At the time, I was only using water based inks so I guess that’s why I thought the name really fit the project. Eventually, we took it on with the business, but now we do printing with all types of inks, as and when necessary. It’s also fitting to our location, here in Plymouth, it always rains here so that’s another reason why.

S: Cut to a shot of the table of us all looking wistfully out of the window at the horrible rainy day we’re experiencing today haha!

What made you guys decide to go freelance?

H: I’m personally in love with the idea of punk rock and anarchism. I want to live on my own terms, and not for someone else. I don’t want to achieve someone else’s goals. I like the idea of community and we do items at cost for charities for example. We also do lots of trades, if we want a design, we’ll swap it for a small line of t-shirts or something. If I want a tattoo, I’ll swap it for some t-shirts. I want to live in that world, so I’m going to make my own small version of it around myself.

S: Being into the kind of things that we are, DIY, playing in bands and punk rock, it’s almost a natural progression to be working for yourself. You can take time off to go and do things like go on tour, rather than get permission from someone else. You realise you’ve been living off practically no money for ages anyway, so you might as well just try it and give it a go.
H: We also have the luxury of having friends doing the same things in different cities, so if we do have orders, we can send the work somewhere else.

S: It’s that community thing again, isn’t it?

H: We just wanna do things for the people, by the people! How many 90’s activist t-shirt slogans can I get into this interview? Hahaimg_0093

What’s your favourite thing to screen print?

S: Most of the time, just stuff that looks nice haha. It sounds really dumb, but that kind of is it! If it’s an attractive design, and you print it and it comes out great, you feel stoked about that.

H: One of the most rewarding feelings is when you set up a job, and you’re worried about an element of the design or something, and then you do the print and lift the screen up and it’s fine. It’s the best feeling ever.

S: Is this gonna look good? YES. Yes it does. Cool, let’s go get some coffee and cake.ilpleut_squidgee

What local companies do you work with?

S: We work with all the artists at Dust N Bones, they’re a good bunch.
H: We also work a lot with Max K Designs, he’s a Cornish dude based in Bristol. We also did some t-shirts recently for local festival Knee Deep Festival on their collaboration with Crawlers. We also work with The Junction and The Underground venues on Mutley Plain, they’ll send work our way if they can. The managers and all the people that work there definitely help facilitate the independent music scene in Plymouth.

S: They are just generally helpful people aren’t they?

H: I don’t wanna name all the bands we’ve worked with since I’ll end up forgetting someone and that’s not fair, but there’s a fair few local ones in there. We also do some work with record labels, such as the Last Shop Standing Records and Black Sail Records, which are both local companies. ilpleut_sam

You also do a ‘Featured Artists’ series, can you tell me more about that?

H: We’ve done a couple so far, with artists such as Lize Meddings, Max Kemp, who we mentioned before and tattoo artist Grace Neutral. We’re currently doing one with a gentleman who goes by the name of Black Cloud Design. He’s based in Germany and he’s designed t-shirts for Touche Amore and Cruel Hand who are big in the hardcore game. We do the series about once a month, and although we may have done a couple in the series with designers who are established, the idea is to help new designers get their artwork out there without financial risk. We pay for the printing costs and sell it through our website for them.
S: It’s basically just some free publicity. It’s good to get our work and theirs out there to a different network of people. It’s fun.
H: We’ve got some more series’ coming up with artists such as Weaselface and Fastplant as well as Jon Daily and Neil Pengilley from Dust N Bones.

S: That’s the advantage of being around loads of artists, and in the tattoo studio!img_0042

8: Where do we find your stuff online?

H: You can find us on Instagram  and Facebook , or you can find our website at ilpleutscreenprinting.com or email us at info@ilpleutscreenprinting.com. If anyone wants to give us money for a job, has any questions, needs advice, fancies a chat or wants to be a featured artist, just drop us a line! Build community, make stuff, stay hydrated, stick it to the man!

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