BS '97, Communication Studies
Eugene Lee, who received his BS in communication studies with a concentration in graphic communications management and technology in 1997, is president of his own printing company, Rolling Press. He prefers not to use titles, simply because he and his colleagues "all work together, doing any number of things – from meeting with account executives to sweeping the floor." Lee reasons, "If everyone shares a little bit of everything, what does a title mean?"
How did NYU equip you to start your own printing company?
First of all, NYU provided a tremendous amount of valuable theory that I was able to apply almost immediately. In my sophomore year Professor Arnold Spinner, then head of the Graphic Communications program, secured an internship for me at Applied Graphics Technologies, an industry leader in pre-press technology. A couple years later that internship lead to a full-time position at the company. I continued at NYU while I worked, so I was constantly applying theory to practice. Two years after I received my degree I left Applied Graphics and started Rolling Press, in Park Slope, Brooklyn.
Why did you start your own business when you already had a good job at a prestigious company?
My father was going to retire from the printing company he owned. He is a traditional craftsman, working by hand, and he saw how technology was changing things; the computer was becoming more important to the printing process. So I found myself just out of NYU, finally entering a field that my father was about to leave. When I approached him about the idea of starting a company together – where he could be my guide in the business, and I would deal with the new technology – my father agreed, and the two of us started Rolling Press.
What distinguishes Rolling Press from other printing companies?
The services we provide – pre-press, press, and bindery – are often provided by different companies, or one really big one. Although we’re a small print house, we’re capable of producing a lot of great things – only on a smaller scale. We plan on keeping rolling press small. We’re fewer than ten people and we all enjoy the comforts of being small. We don’t want to be bigger; we only want to be better. More importantly, we want to care about what we're printing. Eventually we want the accounts we take on to be geared towards the arts, education, and cultural institutions – so we’re not as reliant on big commercial accounts like other firms.
And now you're back at NYU for your master's in graphic communication. Don't you have enough on your plate?
Probably! But right after I got my undergraduate degree, and while I was starting Rolling Press, I taught a pilot program for three years at NYU. Professor Spinner organized this, too. We brought seven to ten students from four different high schools in the Bronx to NYU and my assistant and I introduced them to graphic communications. The program worked so well it looks like it may be a model that other schools will use. I returned for my masters so that I can be involved in more innovative teaching like this in the future. I was incredibly flattered I was asked to participate in the first place. Your alma mater approaches you and asks you to teach! Who would pass up such an amazing opportunity?
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