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.
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: 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.
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: 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? Haha
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.
What local companies do you work with?
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.
You also do a ‘Featured Artists’ series, can you tell me more about that?
S: That’s the advantage of being around loads of artists, and in the tattoo studio!
8: Where do we find your stuff online?