Norman J Field has retired from printing, following a career spanning some 62-years with multiple innovations.
From buying a small Rotaprint machine in 1960, Field went on to achieve a list of Australian and worldwide firsts, culminating in the Media Super Industry Legend Award at this year’s National Print Awards.
In 1960, Norman decided to start his own print business, aptly named Norman J Field & Company, with a staff of just two people.
This number would grow rapidly over the coming years, while he and a German printer he’d hired became the first people in Australia to print 200-line screen, while everyone else was printing 85.
In an interview with award sponsor Media Super, Field says, “This gained us enormous credibility in a short period of time.
‘We were printing quality brochures for GMH, Ford, Chrysler and Kodak, and for most of Melbourne’s advertising agencies.”
One industry member recalls him saying, “Let the world print to a standard, and I will just better it.”
Field also won a prestigious worldwide Kodak competition for lithographic printing in 1970, after which Field was flown to New York to teach Kodak his process.
When the business was eventually sold, 20 years after its inception, there were 165 people on the payroll, spread across two factories.
Over the years these employees have included many specialist printers Norman had brought in from the UK, Germany, Belgium and the Philippines, as well as equipment from Japan, America, Germany and the UK.
Field says, “We were the first privately owned Australian company to produce stamps. We got the job because the government printers were unable to print silver ink. It was for stamps to commemorate the Queen’s Silver Jubilee and her visit to Australia.”
One of Norman’s prints is hanging in Buckingham Palace because Prince Phillip liked it so much when he saw it hanging in Parliament House.
His company was also the first in the world to print 500-line screen, choosing a Kenneth Jack painting because, in Field’s words, “It had very light tones.” Field has a copy in his office still, and the Heidelberg head office in German also has a copy.
Field says, “The industry has been great to me. I have been a very lucky fella.”
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