Made in the Northwest: Dorian Studio

SPOKANE, Wash. – For more than 100 years, Dorian Studio has been showing off people’s smiling faces with its photography. But because of the pandemic, the Spokane company is now making masks to cover up those faces and keep people safe.

“There’s a great deal about the irony of that situation, but that’s life in a pandemic,” laughed operations manager John Mark. “There’s a lot of irony to be had out there.”

It’s a big transition to go from printing yearbook and sports photos to making masks, but Mark says it’s actually been a fairly smooth one and not just because Dorian Studio already had the right equipment for the job.

“It was having the people, the knowledge, the context, the expertise to make it go as smooth as it did,” said Mark.

Dorian Studio has a network of schools it works with up and down the West Coast, so when it decided to start making masks, Mark says they were able to reach out to customers they had worked with for years.

“Saying ‘Hey, we know this is going to be a potential issue and here’s how we’re going to help.’ Because not only are you going to have to get people in masks, if that’s the way it goes, but you’re also going to have to understand who’s behind the masks.”

And that’s where Dorian Studio’s expertise in printing comes in. They’re able to print school logos and more on the masks to help with branding.

“But also go the extent of personalizing it with the information of the student’s name, teacher’s name, photo, things like that,” added Mark.

He says they’ve made well over 10,000 masks already and they don’t expect to slow down anytime soon, as more schools prepare to return to in-person learning at some point.

“As more clarity emerges, I think we’ll see more mask ordering going on.”

Dorian Studio is even developing floor signs to help schools during the pandemic.

Its shift to mask making has kept it from having to lay off any of its more than 40 employees at its Spokane headquarters. And while the company wants to get back to printing yearbook and sports photos soon, it’s fully committed to helping schools in any way it can.

“If masks are still required and they need us in that capacity, we’ll continue to do it. Absolutely.”