Kottayam studio prints your face on masks, brings back smiles

Now, people can recognise you even with a face mask on. A digital print shop in Kottayam, Kerala can print your face on those boring face masks at a very affordable price, and it's trending.

01 Jun 2020 | By Aultrin Vijay

The customised masks can be printed within 15 minutes and costs Rs 60 per mask

Amid all the restrictions, deaths and virus-affected cases during the Covid-19 pandemic, Kottayam-based Beena Lasertech, a digital print shop run by photographer Binesh Paul, has been trending in Kerala for all good reasons. Quirky, yet innovative, Paul came up with the idea of printing one's face on a mask, which usually covers half of the face, so that everyone can recognise you.

"Many times, I had to tell my name in order for the people to recognise me. So, I thought that if we can print on a T-shirt, why not print a face on a face mask. However, that has been beneficial, too. People are able to recognise me easily even with the mask on," said Paul.

Customers can get a face mask printed with their own face within 15 minutes in Paul's studio. It costs just Rs 60 for a mask.

A high-resolution photograph of the customer is taken either in a phone or a digital camera and the portion that the mask covers is cropped out. The cropped portion is printed on an A4-size paper. Using sublimation and heat transfer technology, the image is superimposed on a cloth mask. The entire process takes around 15-20 minutes, according to Paul. The same process can be used on substrates such as card, paper, fabric or plastic.

"Several people have started visiting the shop to get their faces printed, once it started trending," he added.

Paul said that it initially took a while to take off, but in less than a week of introducing the customised masks, he has already sold over 3,000 masks and has another 5,000 orders in his kitty.

The masks sold at Beena Lasertech studio are dual-layered with faces imprinted on them. Paul said that he is planning to introduce triple layer and N95 masks in his portfolio soon.

The shop prints T-shirts and mugs and other stationeries apart from face masks. Paul said that his shop also prints cartoon characters on masks to attract the kids. His shop also makes designs for helmets and sarees.  

According to Paul, his family has been in the photography business for almost 55 years. Earlier, it was Pual's compact wedding albums, which were a rage and now his face masks are also a hit in God's own country.

Paul said that soon after his innovative mask went viral on social media, he got orders from Kuwait and USA as well.

During the start of the lockdown, like other printers in India, Paul didn't have any business and his studio remained shut for almost a month. However, with the growing demand for unique face masks, he hopes to revive his business soon. "We have to convert each crisis into an opportunity," Paul suggested.

After leaving the shop with a face mask on, customers are happy, that, too, with a "visible smile" on their face.

A printer from the city of letters
Beena Lasertech is situated at a quaint town of Ettumanoor in Kottayam, a district also called as “Akshara Nagari” which means the “city of letters” considering its contribution to print media and literature. Maiden printed Malayalam-English and English-Malayalam dictionaries were published from Kottayam in 1846 and 1847 respectively. The first cooperative society of writers, authors and publishers, for publishing books and periodicals was set up here in 1945. Kottayam is the hometown of a vast number of books and periodicals and is the centre of publishing business, including Malayala Manorama, Mathrubhumi, and DC Books, in the state.

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