Mission Print started way back in 1995 in the spare bedroom of a shared house in Balsall Heath. Screens were washed out in the shower, artwork was penned by hand, tshirts dried with a heat gun and deliveries made by bike. After a few months of waking up to the smell of solvents my house mates encouraged me to move into a low rent unit in Digbeth (now Eastside). Over four years we grew in size, taking on more space, staff and clients. Our clients came mainly from the action sports and music business and we built a reputation on quality TShirts and stickers at a fair price. We go out of our way to look after our clients; working late in the night and on weekends, in return they have come back again and again.
In 2000 we moved round the corner to our current location, 7000 sqft of Digbeth’s finest factory units complete with the painted building you can see opposite. Until 1936 it was a pub called the Royal Oak and dates back to 1825. Many of its period features still remain intact and as you can see opposite the Brazilian decorators we hired have only enhanced its Georgian glory.
We grew into the space over the years and gathered together a dedicated and loyal team. Our client base grew rapidly, mainly in street fashion, graphic design, marketing, events and PR, street art, action sports and music. Its unusual for a print company to excel in so many different products, our depth of experience, collection of equipment and willingness to experiment have allowed us to do just that.
Contrary to popular belief we’re not a Christian charity movement nor are we anything to do with Mission in the sense of Mission Impossible. We’re in fact named after an 18th Century pirate, Captain Misson (Mission). There is some debate as to the authenticity of his tale but either way it makes for a great story and when I was struggling for a name and had given up on Frontier Screenprint and Prairie Press it rang true. Our anchor symbol reflects the seafaring reference aswell as being Birmingham’s ironic hallmark and of course a symbol of our strength and trustworthiness. You can read more of Captain Mission on the next page.
Captain Mission was one of the forebears of the French Revolution having codified its liberal principles one hundred years earlier. It is related how Captain Mission, having led his ship to victory against an English man-of-war, called a meeting of the crew. Those who wished to follow him he would welcome and treat as brothers; those who did not would be safely set ashore. One and all embraced the New Freedom. Some were for hoisting the Black Flag at once but Mission demurred, saying that they were not pirates but liberty lovers, fighting for equal rights against all nations under the tyranny of government. The ship’s money was put in a chest to be used as common property. Clothes were now distributed to all in need and the republic of the sea was in full operation. Mission bespoke them to live in strict harmony among themselves; that a misplaced society would adjudge them still as pirates. Self-preservation, therefore, and not a cruel disposition, compelled them to declare war on all nations who should close their ports to them. The Nieustadt of Amsterdam was made prize, giving up two thousand pounds and gold dust and seventeen slaves. The slaves were added to the crew and clothed in the Dutchmen’s spare garments; Mission made an address denouncing slavery, holding that men who sold others like beasts proved their religion to be no more than a grimace as no man had power of liberty over another.
“Under the Black Flag” by Don C.Seitz 1925
Mission explored the Madagascar coast and found a bay ten leagues north of Diego-Saurez. It was resolved to establish here the shore quarters of the Republic- erect a town, build docks, and have a place they might call their own. The colony was called Libertatia and was placed under Articles drawn up by Captain Mission. The Articles state, among other things: all decisions with regard to the colony to be submitted to vote by the colonists; the abolition of slavery for any reason including debt; the abolition of the death penalty; and freedom to follow any religious beliefs or practices without sanction or molestation.
“Cities of the Red Night” by William Burroughs 1981