Interview with Matt Hornby, Sales Director at Foilco

Matt Hornby is the Sales Director at Foilco, a hot stamping foil business based near Manchester in the North of England. What does hot stamping foil have to do with graphic design you may ask? In short, a lot. Foilco works with designers, agencies and studios to make sure they can produce the best possible product for their client. They also run Workshop, an offshoot of Foilco, that teaches designers and design students alike about this vital part of the production industry—they recently visited Shillington’s Manchester campus for a workshop that thrilled the students, and the teachers, there.

We caught up with Matt after their recent Workshop at Clerkenwell Design Week to learn more about what hot stamping foils are, their different applications for designers and the importance of designers working directly with producers.

How, when and why did Foilco start?

31 years ago, my dad, who had a background in plastics, starting selling plain stamping foils to businesses in the UK. Over those years, we’ve emerged into a global supplier of hot stamping foils-with the biggest range in the industry. We sometimes work with the luxury sector, like Hotel Chocolat, who used our crimson holographic glitter foil on their Valentines Day range, and Condé Nast Traveller—who used our burnt orange foil on their cover last summer.

Can you explain to us what Foilco does?

Foilco work with customers, designers and agencies to manufacture patterned foils and foils to match and complement their product or design—we can match to Pantone or create a bespoke metallic colour for any project. We also hold the customers hand during the process, working closely with them throughout, to show them the process and make sure their product is exactly what how they want it. We do smaller runs so that we can guarantee the highest duty of care. We’re also the only foil company on the world that is zero foil to landfill—any waste product in the factory is removed to be recycled and create energy, even from our customers.

Can you explain what hot stamping foils are?

Hot stamping foils are 12 micron polyester transferred using heat and pressure! It is vacuum metallised—which is the only way of achieving the brightness level that you get from it, there is no match for it in anything else! It’s really great for attracting someone’s eye in a retail environment, it creates an interaction which makes it much more likely to be bought.

What is Workshop all about?

Workshop is an offshoot of FoilCo HQ. It is branded especially for graphic designers and was created to educate designers in how stamping foils work—we felt there was a gap to be filled and we filled it! We go into studios/colleges/etc for a few hours and deliver a craft workshop is hand blocking and toner foils, as well as taking the time to explain the principles, process and functionality to designers.
We believe starting the line of communication early on is a vital thing for the industry—it makes the process smoother and means that the final product can be exactly what the designer and client wanted.

Workshop’s five key principles are Play, Learn, Create, Think and Foil—can you explain these to us?

Play—We are playful people. We enjoy our jobs and like getting hands on. We’re a family business, and want participants to share our enthusiasm for stamping foils.

Learn—Learning the process is a super important part of the business and is a massive help to designers when in employment working on packaging projects needing foil.

Create—People get to design something that becomes a bespoke metallic art print—there’s a wonderment to watching people peel the foil off and reveal their designs!

Think—There’s a lot of thinking involved. People have to think about their designs, think about the process, think about how to foil creatively.

Foil—This one’s pretty self-explanatory! It’s all about getting hands on with stamping foil.

How important do you think it is for designers to step away from the computer and get hands on?

SO important! The best studios are ones that go out and visit their producers—and go and discover how to make printers lives simpler and more effective in working with the design concept.

A lot of designers are active in finding out about the paper the use, but less so in some of the other processes. With the practical knowledge of how things actually work, designers can be miles ahead in the process—the industry words aren’t wasted on them. It’s definitely best to get hands on and know what’s going on through the chain!

Are you open for designers to get in contact with you?

Yes! We love for all designers, and definitely for students, to ask us any question they might have! We’re on the end of the phone if anyone needs anything—even though we’re a business we’re still very approachable and open to any questions and help we can be. My dad is 75 and still at it—if you ever visit the factory, you’ll more than likely bump into him.

Foilco have just gone through a major rebrand, which was art directed and designer by Manchester’s Studio DBD, which will be rolled out over the next few months. In the meantime, check out their brand reveal video! As Matt said, they’re always open to questions so get in touch if you have any, or if you want to create something amazing with stamping foil. Make sure to keep your eyes out for future Workshop events—as well as their creative event Multiplicity (the last one had some amazing speakers including former Shillington London guest lecturer Verònica Fuerte).

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