University Printing Services designs and distributes the UA Brand

Chase Bodiford

Ruffle through the stack of handouts, fliers, business cards and pamphlets that have gradually built up since you arrived at the University. This could take anywhere from a few minutes to half a day, depending on how generous you are about accepting free stuff.

Next, walk around the interior of any building on campus and count the number of room numbers, wall posters, or printed tiles that casually hang about the scene. If the effort seems Herculean then assume a reasonable estimate.

Finally, take a leisurely drive through the roads routing through the University and keep both eyes open for any signs or banners that fly about promoting one cause or the other.

Most of the material you would come across during this endeavor comes from a single building. It seems baffling to believe that the relatively quiet setting of Barnwell Hall, nestled directly off Bryant Drive between sorority houses, is in fact one of the busiest sectors in all of Tuscaloosa. The headquarters for the University of Alabama Printing Services consistently churns out several hundred volumes of pages in a given weeks’ time, with specific order amounts varying from twenty to two thousand.  

“I’ve worked here 30 years, and the thing that has surprised me about this job is the variety and volume of printed materials we produce,” said Patricia Dotson, a senior Graphic Designer at Printing Services. “We print everything from student recruitment magazines to posters of national championship athletic teams.” 

Generally speaking, the University employs Printing on a number of projects. This both guarantees a steady stream of business and ensures a close working relationship with the people in charge of producing a huge portion of UA’s promotional material. 

“It allows the University to establish graphic standards,” Bill May, director of Printing Services, said, ”so that our brand is presented in a consistent way.” 

This brand runs all the way from the exact shade of crimson that Alabama fans casually educate people on who call it ‘red’ to the specific ‘A’ emblazoned on any flag flying proud over Bryant-Denny.

Indeed, the more taxing challenge would be to locate University materials not run out of the printing shop. From student cards numbering in the hundreds to campus promotional packets constituting ten times that number, the actual printing machines are never given a lack of fodder. 

“Monday through Friday, every hour we are open these guys [the machines] are running,” May said.

From graphic studios and offset printing all the way to folding and cutting, the actual process in creating a flier goes much deeper than your average onlooker would ever expect. What has to be noted is that each link in this chain has to perform exceptionally at all times, as any single mistake that is not immediately picked up on could hold up production. Each area is just as important as the last, and if ever there was a “team job,” this fits the definition wonderfully.