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The Offbeat Story – Getting Started in Screen Printing

Nov 6, 2018

Offbeat Press was a side project that began between designer Drew Mueske, filmmaker, John Pata and writer Jordan Brown. With shared creativity and a passion for screen printing we 3 young pups started working on Offbeat Press in the Summer of 2008.

It began over Beers

The conversation began when Drew convened a meeting with John and a few beers at Peabody’s Ale House. Soon after John recruited Jordan into the mix and we came to an agreement. At the height of the global financial crisis, we hustled to open the first eco-friendly screen printing shop in the Midwest.

When global businesses were shutting their doors, we were just getting started. We were too small to fail, but we knew if we didn’t grow month over month we could easily be too small to succeed.

John and Jordan were just finishing college at UW-Oshkosh and shared a passion for screen printing. Drew had cut his teeth with art direction in the ad world, was self-employed as a graphic designer and founded a small clothing label. After 3 years of designing and selling shirts at events, Drew had built up a decent little client base of bands, businesses and organizations that came to Drew for shirt designs and more.

Offbeat Press business cards for John Pata and Jordan Brown

Original business cards for John and Jordan

Before Offbeat Press, Drew had been a client with numerous print shops in the Fox Valley. With the Fox Valley triumphing in mediocrity, Drew moved his printing business to the West Coast in search of better quality inks and more sustainable apparel printing options. Working with print shops on the West Coast, Drew fully realized the quality and environmental benefits of eco-friendly, water-based inks. In Spring 2008, a print shop in Berkeley, CA went out of business and Drew lost half a year’s investment in shirt inventory and expected sales. That event combined with his previous customer experience in the Fox Valley, exemplified the need to create a better screen print shop that offered water-based inks and sustainable practices. Months later Offbeat Press was born on December 1, 2018.

Drew's Progress media home office

Drew’s living room design office before Offbeat Press

Screen Printing in Oshkosh and the Fox Valley

Before opening Offbeat Press, Drew hired a dozen different screen printing shops in the Fox Valley. We performed market research for screen printing in Oshkosh as well as other locations across the state. We learned that Oshkosh had more screen printing shops than Madison, but we weren’t phased by the results. We knew our quality, craft, creativity, reliability and sustainability would separate us from the stale blood that dominated the market.

Creating our first print shop

Oshkosh Tram Station at Offbeat Press

Oshkosh Tram Station long before Offbeat Press

We found a mostly vacant building on the east side of Oshkosh and summoned the determination to make it work. The building we moved into (and still work out of) served as the original tram station for Oshkosh and is scenically-located on the intersection of the Fox River and Lake Winnebago. We converted the 350 square foot old loading dock into our print shop, barely large enough for pre-press, printing, receiving and shipping duties. The floors slope +18” end to end and the gaps in the concrete walls provide the only windows to the river from within the concrete cave. The adjacent office had vintage floors and no heat. We knew this was the perfect spot to begin our story.

After some modest improvements and a quick paint job with friends, we quietly opened the doors a month earlier than expected and with a bunch of orders on the books.

Starting this small, meant nobody was getting a regular paycheck. We agreed to only pay ourselves a portion of monthly profits. Within months we were putting dozens of dollars in our pockets and eating again. Those first few months were largely funded by no-interest credit cards, a financial tactic Drew had successfully used to launch Progress Label.

Working with water-based inks proved very challenging and costly. Research and development happened on the fly and many frustrating lessons were learned.

We continue to learn and evolve, creating our own path by connecting with community organizations, bands, and awesome businesses. We vow to never let our blood turn stale. Check out the About Us page for more info on who we are now or let’s get your order started.