Mark Samworth, 49th FTA Hall of Fame Inductee, and the Ever-Present Pursuit of Quality

Mark Samworth FTA Hall of FameTo some, Mark Samworth is a color guru or scientist. Others refer to him as a scan man. Friends from college recall him as a trail blazer, who in the late 1970s stepped out of the traditional printing curriculum and customized his personal course of study to link print and computer science.

At the time, few recognized that such insight would prove paramount to the advancement of an industry. Color management was yet to become a principle, but in the ensuing 30 years, Samworth became widely hailed as one of its founding fathers and its leading proponent in the world of flexography. As his colleague, DuPont’s Mark Mazur, says, “Color and curves have made Mark’s career.”

A perfectionist by nature, Mark Samworth focuses on teaching people to do better flexo printing. He has traveled the country and the world calibrating scanners for flexo, presenting seminars on print reproduction, digital plate optimization, color management and expanded color gamut printing. He’s even stopped shoppers in supermarket parking lots to press them on their knowledge of flexography and how it compares to offset and gravure. Those moments, complete with expressions of puzzlement, were captured on video for posterity and broadcast at FFTA’s 2001 Annual Forum.

Mark Samworth FTA Hall of Fame pilsnerSamworth’s processes and procedures have been patented many times over. The names and techniques are familiar to many FTA members and include Flexo Cal, Plate Cell Patterning and Flexo Sync. It is because of this innovation and success that Samworth, vice president of technology at EskoArtwork, inventor, and flexography’s own patent king is the 49th—and youngest—inductee into the FTA Hall of Fame.

His wife Katherine—or “Talley,” as he calls her—says, “With Mark’s work ethic, energy and enthusiasm for his work, to me, it’s both a huge surprise and not such a huge surprise that he is receiving this award. Being recognized by peers and inducted into FTA’s Hall of Fame will be a great, great honor.

“Mark is always reading and learning something and he is always the teacher,” she adds. “Whether he is explaining something to me or one of our daughters, or anyone that will listen, he is a born teacher.” (For more about Samworth as seen through his wife’s eyes, see “Talley’s Tally” on the last page.)

Samworth’s education attests to his passion for education. A graduate of Rochester Institute of Technology’s printing science program, he also holds an MBA from University of Delaware. At RIT, he was mentored by both Professor Miles Southworth and flexo faculty member Charles Weigand.

Entertainer at Heart

A rock n’ roll aficionado since boyhood, Samworth is an entertainer as well as an educator. He plays bass in Runnin’ Late, a Delaware-based “feel good” classic rock band that draws influences from both jazz and blues. His influences include Bruce Springsteen, John Cougar Mellencamp, Joe Cocker, Steely Dan, The Rolling Stones, Chicago, The Eagles, Supertramp and Lynyrd Skynyrd.

Mark Samworth FTA Hall of Fame speakingSamworth’s love of music took hold in third grade, when he took up the trumpet. He continued with it through junior high school and added baritone horn, but when his band teacher refused to consider playing Led Zeppelin at the spring concert, Samworth decided to leave “organized music.” In high school, he took up bass guitar and co-founded the band Paragon, which played at school dances and other events. He rocked on through college, and co-founded Green Eggs and Sam in the 1990s. Today, he writes original music that is incorporated into Runnin’ Late’s repertoire.

Fellow flexographer and college buddy Herb Schwartje, general manager at Bizerba Label Solutions, Inc., in Forest Hill, MD, remains close to Mark personally and professionally. He notes how Samworth’s songs reflect their author’s mind. “One of them, which his band plays during their gigs, is pretty darn good. It’s called ‘The Outliers,’ and finds its roots deep in Mark’s analytical, statistical, mathematical mind,” he says.

“Mark is a big Bruce Springsteen fan, and of course [he likes] many of the other 1970s rockers. But he’s also a jazz enthusiast, with Miles Davis, Dave Brubeck and Chet Baker being some of his favorites,” he adds.

Samworth’s visual and tactile affinities come through in his success with flexography, and his love of sound rings clear in his music, but his sense of taste is evident in his choice of beer. “Mark is a beer enthusiast, as a result of his many trips to Germany and Belgium, both for business and pleasure,” says Schwartje. “He’ll gladly tell you, ‘There’s nothing like a hoppy IPA or a nice German Pilsner!’”