A glimpse of signage scenes in Manipur
Manipur never fails to impress tourists as this North-East India’s picturesque state boasts of rich heritage, captivating culture and stunning landscapes. The state is also known for its society where women are noted for their collective empowerment in active economic participation. The travelling bandwagon of Sign & Graphics recently drove down the roads and by-lanes of Imphal and other towns to meet a select group of graphic arts companies, recognising their outstanding works and commitment to quality. The select group consists of some businesswomen at forefront. Jyaneswar Laishram reports.
A choice for corporates
Saikhom Enterprises on RIMS Road in Imphal is not merely a print service provider (PSP) but an ad agency too Blue Diamond is the company’s sister concern on this creative front. Suchmulti-tasking nature of the company helps its customers find the finest choices of ideas and innovations in signage and display graphic solutions. In this respect, Saikhom Ratanjit, Proprietor, Saikhom Enterprises, says, “Our main ambition is to push creativity to another level, redefining effectiveness of signage campaigns in a modern way. We don’t do just print and paste job which conventional PSPs do.”
Incepted in the year 2013, Saikhom Enterprises upgraded its production facility in a big way with the adoption of a line of machines including two Edgeprint printers and an Edgeprint CNC router. The company has a team of around 16 sign making professionals which consist of graphic designers, fabrication and installation experts. “In addition to our in-house team, we hire sub-contracts when we take up large scale projects in any part of Manipur,” informs Ratanjit, adding that most of their major projects are of state-wide campaigns for corporate biggies.
Some of the major corporate companies in the present client list of Saikhom Enterprises include Dalmia Cements, VIVO, among others. In addition, many regional brands like Iron Ball Production, a movie production house in Imphal, are in the company’s clientele. On his remark on the growing signage market of Manipur, Ratanjit says there are still a lot of scopes they have to explore in the signage and graphic arts landscape in the state. He further mentions that Saikhom Enterprises is fully geared up to embrace new machines and ultramodern technologies.
A women-on-top venture
Historically women played vital roles in all spheres of life and society in Manipur. This pride of women’s collective empowerment in active economic participation is no exception in the state’s graphic arts industry. RKS Enterprise is the proof here. This popular signage company is led by two woman proprietors—RK Gomika and Irom Sangeeta. When asked about their maiden entry into the industry, which considerably is a man-dominated sector, RK Gomika says they never felt that the sector is not for them. She adds, “We were quite naïve about this sector. However, it was our friends and well-wishers who inspired us to know much about this sector, future prospects and possibilities. Then immediately it clicked both of us—me and my partner Sangeeta.”
In the year 2014 RKS Enterprise officially announced their inauguration with little engagement in the digital large-format printing. Main activities of the company in the beginning involved more into DTP and reprographic jobs. Sooner than later they upgraded their production setup with a ColorJet NEPTUNE printer, which marked the beginning of a new era for RKS Enterprise as they switched to signage printing, fabrication and installation around Imphal and its surrounding areas.
“As of now we are working for local customers who are pre-dominantly departmental stores, public utility departments, cultural and sporting associations, etc.” says Sangeeta, adding that they are gearing up to accelerate their business to another level with an aim to penetrate into the corporate sector. On the technology front, she emphasizes that RKS Enterprise must adopt latest and eco-friendly machines and materials. Next step plan for the company is to install a UV machine in their facility.
A.D. Printing House
A complete solution corner
A brain child of Anand Sorokhaibam, A.D. Printing House is a complete printing solution corner. It has become ‘complete’ after rigorous upgrade of machines and manpower over the last four years. “Since our inception in the year 2007 we never stop upgrading our facility as per the demands surging in the market,” says Anand, adding that a big turning point in the company took place in the year 2018 when they invested in an advanced digital large-format printer—ColorJet NEPTUNE.
“It was my ambition to open a print corner where everything can be done under a roof. Today I fulfill my dream. Our customers no longer run from one pillar to another for getting prints that cannot be done at A.D. Printing House,” tells Anand. In addition to ColorJet NETUNE, the machine portfolio of the company has another line of versatile and advanced machines such as Konica Minolta bizhub 206. The production house of the A.D. Printing House has a team of well-trained and experienced printing and sign-making professionals led by Laingam Singh.
A.D. Printing House is one of the most popular printing corners with its all-time jammed reception counter. Walk-in customers from all walks of life from hills and valley are predominantly in the company’s client list. Talking about their big customers and big projects they have accomplished till date, Anand says they are vendor of Eastern Sports Union and many other regional sporting and cultural associations and events. A.D. Printing House also goes hand-in-hand with Manhunt Manipur, an annual male model hunt event.
A call for personalisation
As the name suggests Alex Sublimation at Paona Bazar in Imphal is a corner where dye-sublimation is done at its best level. Main activities of the company revolve around T-shirt printing, customised mobile and laptop printing. “We are quite new in the market. We are just two years old and aiming at magnifying the business to cover more areas of the graphic arts market of Manipur, which is still growing and opening new job opportunities for start-ups and new ventures,” says Alex Chandan of Alex Sublimation.
Talking about the current activities and types of customers they deal, Alex says the festive seasons in the state are the peak business time for them. “Yaosang (Holi) is the time many clubs and sporting organisations in the state require custom-printed flags, T-shirts and others,” tells Alex, adding that sometimes they couldn’t meet the high-volume demands in such festive times, so the next development plan for Alex Sublimation is to upgrade their facility with more UV printers and strengthened manpower.
The production facility of Alex Sublimation is equipped with a couple of desktop Ben UV printers, assisted by a string of trimming and finishing machines. According to Alex, the current dye-sub printing market of Manipur is on the way to best ever innovative printing. “I hope the scope of dye-sublimation is expanding into newer domains. This trend is catching up with the Gen-X who are looking for creative and innovative graphics on gadgets and wardrobes,” says Alex conclusively.
A unique traditional player
Nebula Advertising is a household name in the world of outdoor advertising in Manipur. Ever since its inception in the year 2003 as a painting shop at Khuman Lampak in Imphal the company till date never fails to impress their customers in one way or other. Here is the reason proprietor of the company Joy Laishram shares, “We are artists by profession. We were among the topmost vendors where all the hand-painted display boards and posters were made for various applications like shop-front displays, public utility signs, etc.”
A big turn took place for Nebula Advertising in the year 2008. It was the opening of a new production set-up where installed six Xing Feng plotters. After that the job profile of the company changed from being a traditional player to a modern sign maker using advanced plotter-cut acrylic and vinyl materials. The transformation further took place, that too in a bigger way, when the production facility was upgraded to a next level with the installation of a Jade printer with Konica 512i printhead, followed by a Xenon DX5 eco-solvent printer.
Nebula Advertising is working for a host of clients who are mainly local establishments like clubs, big departmental stores, regional associations and many others. In this respect, Joy informs that they are now planning to get into the corporate sector with an aim to capture some big brands. In a nutshell, Nebula Advertising is one of the signage players in Imphal who are capable to meet the needs of corporate companies.
Yangoi Ningthou Printers
An old bastion in new role
Yangoi Ningthou Printers, also commonly known as YN Printers, is the oldest printing corner in Bishnupur town in Manipur with its tradition of quality work and committed service. Santosh Laikhuram, Director, Yangoi Ningthou Printers, recalls, “It was in the late 1980s, I was quite young, my mother Saroja Devi switched to printing business, leading a team of pre-press, press and post-press professionals. The production facility was equipped with a letterpress.” He adds that they predominantly engaged in printing invitation cards of all kinds and occasions. That’s why YN Printers was known as barton nampham (invitation card printer) to general public. The facility of YN Printers keeps upgrading from time to time. Its letterpress is no longer in operation. The press is now preserved as antic at a corner, wrapped in old memories.Santosh mentions that after years of upgrades in machines and work profile, YN Printers has transformed into a one-stop printing corner in the town, meeting all needs of customers, be it printing of business cards or outdoor posters. “We have tied up with some print service providers (PSPs) for outsourcing large-format printing jobs. This is how we manage our signage graphic printing,” he adds.
Konica Minolta bizhub 206 is another key machine at the production facility of YN Printers for commercial printing of all kinds of documents in both colour and monochrome. When asked about the next-level development at YN Printers, Santosh says the printing industry is so dynamic today, be it in the commercial printing domain or wide-format printing arena. He conclusively mentions that YN Printers will always maintain the value and tradition for which they are acknowledged as a trusted printing corner by their customers.
An ad & painting studio
Established in the year 2008, Art Communication is advertising and painting studio, commonly known for making all kinds of manual, plotter-cut and digitally-printed display and signage systems. “Since our establishment, we have a host of customers who come regularly to us and never ever complained of any work of us they found unsatisfied,” says Keisham Romenkumar, Proprietor, Art Communication. The company has two production facilities, one at New Checkon and another at Top Khongnagkhong, serving their clients from the lengths and breadth of Imphal. When it comes to counting on major clients of Art Communication, Romenkumar says they predominantly work for government departments as well as some private companies and a lot of walk-in customers. Some in the list worth mentionable are Manipur Police, Manipur State Rural Livelihood Mission (MSRLM), among others. “These days, MSRLM is campaigning across the rural belts of the state for several projects and awareness programmes. We are the sole vendor for all MSRLM projects,” mentions Romenkumar. Talking about their future plan, Romenkumar says they had something in pipeline for the expansion of their production facilities a couple of years ago. “Because of the ill-fated COVID-19 pandemic, we put everything on hold and planning to carry out when the market is in full normalcy,” he emphasises. Art Communication has the pride of being a corner where customers turn up repeatedly and never go away. This is the essence of this tiny but highly compacted graphic arts company.