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At InoPrints, the Artist Takes Center Stage
by Erinn Morrison // Medill

Maintenance Crew 2006. InoPrints Sponsored Artist

At InoPrints, the Artist Takes Center Stage
by Erinn Morrison // Medill
Oct 29, 2010


In 2006, Jovim Ventura, was working as a marketing and sales analyst at a firm in Glenview. He had a cubicle, a respectable job and a generous paycheck, but realized that something was missing. "My capacity to learn new things capped off," he says. " I was making pretty decent money but was losing passion."

Before his corporate stint, Ventura was a DJ, spinning at popular venues like the House of Blues and the Metro. DJing gave Ventura access to the Chicago music scene and put him in constant contact with local artists and musicians. When a record label he and a few friends tried to start failed to take off, Ventura turned to a more traditional career path.

When he realized his heart wasn't in his corporate job, Ventura started thinking about what the Chicago music scene was missing. " I thought, musicians do not have an outlet to get their CDs produced in a timely manner in Chicago," he says. " We had to use Florida, California or Texas manufacturers... I just actually saw the need and then ran with it."

Ventura noticed that only about a small fraction of the success of an album or a project occurred in the studio. " The rest comes afterward, like the printing, the marketing... and our whole philosophy was for our customers to just focus on the music, and we' ll try to help promote it as well as print out the package to make you look professional." According to Ventura, lots of Chicago musicians were doing this work themselves and burning out as a result.

With the help of a credit card and his entire 401K, Ventura laid the groundwork for his print shop. Having placed 50 percent of his salary into a 401K (" pretty crazy" Ventura says, with a laugh) the seed money for the business was already in place.

In 2007 Ventura set up shop on Foster Avenue, blocks away from North Park University and at the edge of the Albany Park neighborhood where he grew up. "I had to move the office out of my parent's house. Neighbors were getting suspicious with some of the rappers entering our neighborhood to pick up their CDs. Haha." InoPrints makes everything from business cards to CD inserts, posters and t-shirts.

It's easy to wonder why Ventura chose quiet North Park over the hustle and bustle of downtown or a more arts-oriented neighborhood like Rogers Park. " I think it was a good idea... We know everyone and we saw that North Park was actually kind of booming, it's vibrant, you have a college over here, so we felt that this was a growing neighborhood. It's starting to become more vibrant, everyone' s moving out of Wicker Park because it's getting too expensive, so everyone' s shifting north and a little west."

Through word of mouth and Internet marketing, InoPrints has managed to expand its client base from rappers, artists and musicians to large corporations. At first they just served the artists, but once Ventura started marketing on Google, people wondered if they could do business cards as well. "So we started catering to the musicians and then they started talking to their work places, where they have a day job, and then the corporate people started knocking on our door."

Freddy Fabris, a local photographer and loyal InoPrints customer, says he found InoPrints through an Internet search for print shops in Chicago. Fabris appreciates the friendly service and quality of work. "What I have to print is pretty sensitive, color-wise. I go to the office and Jovim is super nice and takes care of everything, gets everything very well done."

Quality is the name of the game at InoPrints, which Ventura says has taken many customers from chain stores like Kinko's. The young, hip vibe of the store seems to appeal to its clientele. "We feel that a lot of business owners are starting to get younger and Kinko's... they' re good because they sell convenience but sometimes people complain about the quality. A lot of business owners are starting to become more relaxed and younger so we're trying to cater to that as well. Just have fun with it. Printing should be fun" 

Chris Visto, 25, a Print Manager at InoPrints, is quick to sing Ventura' s praises, noting that Ventura' s leap of faith into the printing business inspired him to change career paths. "Just like him, I just kind of got fed up. I just want to be my own boss and by seeing him do that, he was a mentor when I started out. And I followed that."

"He's very modest, by the way." Visto says of Ventura. "His network was very huge before he started InoPrints. A lot of artists knew about him and they were excited before Inoprints even opened up." 

As for business, Ventura says it's been consistent. Since InoPrints started when the economy was already on the decline, they never suffered the losses that many small businesses have. "Once the economy picks up, you'll be looking at a millionaire!" Ventura jokes.

With plans to open another location downtown and to expand its services to music placement and marketing for musicians, InoPrints is making good on its promise to help out local artists.

"That's the whole grand scheme of things," he says. "Whatever happens to musicians, we're always going be there."