IS DECORATOR PROFILE 36 images AUGUST 2020 M ikee Parker expresses himself, and his work ethic, through his tattoos. ‘Work Hard’ is inked across his knuckles – it’s an ethos that has driven him to set up and grow his own print shop, VinoSangre Screen Printing, over the past 10 years. With its key market of live music devastated by the coronavirus, Mikee’s determination has helped VinoSangre survive and thrive during this difficult time. “’Work hard’ is my life motto,” he says. “We just go out and do it.” His approach to life and business has also grown out of his passion for music, punk rock in particular. As a drummer and bass player, he has performed in bands for 24 years and started out by running his own music label, Boslevan Records. Based above a tattoo studio in Walsham near Norwich, he began printing T-shirts for his bands and other musicians. “I started with a home-made rig: just a couple of clamps that you put a frame into on a desk,” he recalls. “Very DIY.” He enjoyed it so much that he gave up plans to become a tattooist and went into printing full-time. After [L-R] Sam Currie, Mikee Parker and Max Oughton Ink outside the box VinoSangre Screen Printing’s founder Mikee Parker talks to Mark Ludmon about tattoos, hard work, and building a print shop with punk rock attitude relocating to his bedroom at his home in Norwich, he then crossed England to set up in a shed at his parents’ house close to Penzance in Cornwall. He picked up some “bits and pieces” of second-hand equipment and created a print shop in a barn near Land’s End, translating the name of his events business, Wine Blood Productions, into Spanish to create VinoSangre. “It was just a stupid and dumb name that I couldn’t find on the internet,” he admits. The business grew as word spread of Mikee’s skills through the world of punk and three years ago, he moved into his first commercial unit, back in Norwich. Having previously remained exclusively loyal to manual screen printing, as more work came in he invested in his first automatic, an M&R Sportsman, with eight stations and four colours. “It meant production became a lot faster.” VinoSangre continues to use this machine alongside a six-station/six- colour Printex manual carousel. “There are certain things you can’t do as well on an automatic, such as split fountains and the more arty stuff,” Mike explains. “It [the manual] gives you more versatility.” Team players About a year and a half ago, he was joined by Sam Currie, who previously ran DTG and automatic screen print operations. He is also a former pro inline skater, which has opened up the skating world for VinoSangre. “We instantly became best friends and business partners,” Mikee says. “That was great for alleviating the stress of trying to do everything by myself. I’d had friends come to help me but never had a full-time person working with me.” The duo became a trio in January this year when Max Oughton came on board, also from a more commercial printing background. “I’ve been a manual printer for years so, having Max and Sam come in, I’ve learned stuff about printing from them,” Mikee adds. “I had never done CMYK process prints before so I learned how to do that, and I’m showing them how to do stuff. Together we have been streamlining the shop, making it faster. It’s been progressing slowly for seven or eight years and then in the last few years it’s suddenly kicked off and gone up a level.” In March, VinoSangre relocated to an industrial estate on the outskirts of Norwich, nearly doubling its space from 750 to 1,400 square feet, with a mezzanine for the company’s first separate office. It has added an M&R (Top) Stickers and screens; (above) VinoSangre’s washout booth and CCI EnviroLine DST-1 dip tank