In the latest instalment of our Profile interview series we speak to one of our print consultants, Bob Stillwell. After a long career in advertising, print and publishing, including working with American Express and BBC Worldwide and a brief appearance on Top Gear alongside Jeremy Clarkson, Bob now works for JPS Limited as a technical and colour specialist for web and gravure print.
Describe your role at JPS Limited in a nutshell?
My role is to press pass printed material, mainly consisting of 4 colour mail order catalogues, to the highest possible standard and ultimately to achieve a result that will satisfy clients.
When did you start working with JPS Limited?
In 2002. I was officially due to retire then from BBC Worldwide when the opportunity with JPS Limited came up, but the BBC then retained me for a further two years so I found myself doing two jobs. I would often fly out to Italy after a day’s work at the Beeb to do a press pass for JPS Limited and fly back to be at my desk in White City the next morning, but because of the time difference often be there before anyone else.
Hectic times, but good fun.
What’s the one thing you love most about your job and why?
Quite simply the people. My employers at JPS Limited must be some of the nicest people you could wish to work for. I have had the privilege of knowing Bridget Petty for a great many years and our paths have crossed continually over that time as we made our separate ways in the industry.
Being able to meet new people in the printing business, as well as maintaining old contacts, is also a great benefit of the job as well.
How did you end up in printing / print production?
My involvement with print first started at an advertising agency (later to become part of Saatchi & Saatchi) and then became more and more important through a long career that took in The Burton Group, The Rank Organisation, American Express and finally production management at the BBC working on their TV spin-off titles including Top Gear.
What did you want to be when you grew up and why?
I always had a yearning to go to sea, but after school ended up joining a leading London advertising agency as a junior which was a wonderful experience as you worked alongside incredibly eccentric characters that you would never normally expect to meet in a month of Sundays.
What is your biggest career challenge to date?
Being hauled in front of a camera by Jeremy Clarkson without notice and told to do a piece to camera for Top Gear without a script. I thought it would end up on the cutting room floor, but amazingly, it was broadcast. I was told later that they were looking for an older man and I was the only one they could find!
What can make a ‘ordinary’ print project become ‘extra-ordinary’ and why?
I don’t know really – I wish I had the answer to that one. I put as much effort as I can into every job I pass. Every job is unique in itself and deserves to be treated as such.
If you were on a desert island, what three things would you take with you?
Not wanting to spend too much time as a castaway, I would take a rescue flare, desalination kit and a live chicken as I do like an egg in the morning.
What’s the most rewarding part of your job?
Walking away tired, but happy from a printing press knowing that you’ve done your utmost to achieve the best possible result.
What was your first record or CD?
Bill Haley’s ‘Rock around the Clock’ on a 78rpm disc.
What has been your career highlight so far?
Probably working for the then Burton Group producing mail order catalogues for their Womenswear division with total responsibility for design, fashion photography, repro and print. Complete fulfilment in one job. Fantastic.
What’s your favourite brand and why?
The John Lewis Partnership because of their commitment to product quality and customer satisfaction.
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