If you’ve walked through the latest exhibit at the American Visionary Art Museum, admired the floating art at Nepenthe Brewing Company, or read the walls of the Smithsonian museums, you’re already familiar with Alpha Graphics’ work. Over the past 47 years, this Woodberry design and printing company has made a name for itself by creating top-notch custom prints of all shapes and sizes—ranging from business cards to cardboard cutouts of the Will & Grace cast—for local and national clients.
Although Alpha Graphics has been a part of the local maker community since 1972, the small company experienced a renaissance 12 years ago when the current owner and president, Christine Walsh, took over the business. While Walsh didn’t have any prior printing experience (she was working as an IT manager until the day she purchased the company), she identified with the level of personal care and commitment that Alpha brought to each project.
“The history of Alpha has stayed with me, and I try to instill that in every one of my employees,” Walsh says. “We are not just some copy shop—that print has to come from deep within you and it has to be the best, most high-quality piece that it can be.”
After learning the ins and outs of Alpha’s services—from creating product mock-ups for companies like Black & Decker to handmade color transfers—Walsh began elevating the brand by building sincere personal connections with clients, both big and small. “It’s genuine, I know that having a relationship with us makes people feel more comfortable leaving their artwork or passion projects in our hands,” she says.
Since then, the tight-knit team has expanded to seven people, moved into a historic envelope factory under the Jones Falls Expressway, and continued to design, print, package, and ship products to customers across both the neighborhood and the country. And, impressively, Alpha has built and maintained its hefty roster of clients solely on word-of-mouth referrals, as the company does not advertise.
With the company’s 50th anniversary on the horizon, Walsh plans to continue finding ways to expand Alpha’s reach, including a potential extension into the government sector, while remaining rooted in Baltimore’s creative community. After all, since its customers, vendors, and fellow makers have been so loyal to the print shop over the years, Walsh says her company will always be there to support them back. “Our clients have made us what we are,” she says. “We’re here to help and empower them as much as we can.”