Story and video by Rommel Ojeda
Jazz & Print, an eclectic shop in East Williamsburg, Brooklyn, puts a creative spin on what are usually mundane services. Decorated with vibrant yellow polka dots and ceiling-high windows, the spacious store adds the aesthetics of art and music to its core business: printing.
The hum of digital printing machines mingles with the sounds of jazz legends such as Miles Davis and Louis Armstrong. The meows of a friendly Siamese cat, who happens to be named “Jazz,” chime in occasionally.
Jazz & Print, which opened in 2016, offers all the services needed for marketing, providing digital and offset printing along with DTG printing for fabrics and shirts. In reviews on Google and Facebook, customers praise the business for its high-quality products and customer service.
But its identity is built around devoting half of its space to art work and musical instruments, including a piano, a guitar and an African banjo.
At the end of each month, the shop also hosts performances by local artists and musicians. The shows are promoted on its social media accounts and through flyers printed at the shop.
“I have always had a lot of respect for musicians, and there are so many musicians that happen to be my neighbors and express interest in coming [in] and playing,” said Karl Azizi, the shop’s director of operations.
“I didn’t want to have like a shiny little place,” he said. “I just want it to be a little ragged and reflect a little bit on the history of jazz.”
According to Bernadeta Majauskaite, a sculpture and make-up artist working as a junior graphic designer at Jazz & Print, a large number of their returning customers are up-and-coming artists who rely on fast, last-minute printing of their work.
“The renaissance of Williamsburg is built on artists, especially punk rockers in the 70s and the 60s when everybody abandoned Brooklyn and New York City,” Azizi said. “It was the punk rockers that really brought about the Williamsburg resurgence.”
The proliferation of new artists moving into East Williamsburg could also be the result of hyper-gentrification occurring in other parts of the neighborhood. According to the real estate blog PropertyShark, the value of real estate in Williamsburg has increased by 30 percent in the past decade, ranking it second behind Manhattan, which has attracted larger franchises to the neighborhood.
While bigger companies have started overpowering small mom-and-pop shops, Jazz & Print is doing its part to maintain the individuality of Brooklyn by providing a creative space for local artists.
A1959 Steinway piano sits in front of Azizi’s embroidery machine. “It’s basically an open piano,” Azizi said. “I have a lot of absolutely amazing musicians that come and play, some of them come and practice and it’s just, you know, a nice thing to have.”
The printing business was originally opened in 2006 in Long Island City, under the name NekoPrint, but after feeling the pressure of high prices that overtook that neighborhood, Azizi decided to take his business to Brooklyn. The name change came along with the new beginning.
Aside from the open piano, Jazz & Print also offers its space to artists who wish to perform or use the space to exhibit their work. “I think just merging music with any type of anything is very connecting. I think this place really knows how to do that— to connect people,” Majauskaite said.