84-86 Herald Street, Cheltenham VIC 3192 03 9585 7788

It’s international print day on 20th October – yes, even printing has an international day! So we’ve started celebrations with a deep dive into what makes the Complete team tick!

October 20th might be International Print Day, but every day is print day for us at Complete – and no day is more important than the present day, when we print with trust and deliver the very best quality, service and value possible.

We’re also proud to be a truly international business every day, with clients in New Zealand, the UK and Canada, and staff from all over the world.

And while we try to celebrate those brilliant staff every day, the International Print Day milestone does provide us with an opportunity to pause and take stock of the fact that our business is nothing without the people who make it tick every day. It also provides us with another opportunity to look at the amazing world of print and how it actually works.

Ever wondered how printing actually works?

Right through the spectrum, from the simplest household inkjet printer, to the most complex industry-leading machine, printing is a quite remarkable feat of engineering; across a range of different printing processes. It’s certainly moved a long way since first being documented almost 2,000 years ago in China.

Offset Printing

In Offset Lithography printing, digital images are transferred to plates using laser technology (chemical free); Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black, plus any bespoke colour. Rollers then transfer vegetable based ink to the ‘image areas’ of each plate, while a water-based film is applied to ‘non image areas’ before the inked plates hit paper. 

Offset was first invented in 1875 by Robert Barclay; an Englishman who originally used this method to print on tin, but we don’t just continue with this traditional printing method for nostalgic reasons. 

Because Offset presses run so efficiently once they are set up, this process is the best choice for larger quantities (generally 500 or more copies), and provides accurate color reproduction, and crisp, clean professional looking printing. 

It’s also more economical for the client – the larger the print run, the more economical the cost of each print. The Lithographic principle was first introduced in 1796 by German author and actor Alois Senefelder as a method to publish theatrical works cheaply, but today it works in unison with Offset as the preeminent print process.

The October 2021 image in our 16-month calendar is a great example to showcase the versatility of offset printing. The page is produced using a Drip-Off Coating technique where we applied a special-effect Matt Varnish to selected areas (the ocean), before flooding the stock with a high-gloss water-based coating. The coating repels from the areas printed with the matt varnish, maintaining the matt effect in the ocean, and giving the remaining surface (the rocks) a premium high-gloss finish. It brings the rocks to life with great definition and contrast to the texture of the ocean.

Digital Printing

First introduced in 1991, digital printing uses alternatives to plates, such as toner (similar to laser printers) or liquid ink, which is perfect for variable data capability. If the client needs a unique code, name or address on each print, digital is the only option, as Offset would require different plates to be set up for each print. 

For one client, Complete prints 45,000 brochures with 30 variants within a 24-hour window (from receiving file to delivering brochures) every week. Digital Printing is also great for smaller runs on invitations, greeting cards, business cards or flyers.

“Our systems drive performance,” says Director Geoff Lawyer.

“And our clients have evolved with us over the years. Almost 30 years since the business was founded, we still work with some of the same clients. They, like us, have morphed into other areas, or moved to other industries, but they keep coming back to what they know and trust.”

“Our clients are the lifeblood of our print community. They are the passion, drive and knowledge behind how we operate. We are externally certified to ISO Standards to operate sustainably and responsibly, and to ensure our systems avoid errors.”

We were an early adopter in the digital print space, moving across with our first digital press from Fuji-Xerox in 2006, but Complete’s principles around service, quality, value and trust have never changed. And we’ve now added a top of the class model with the new Xerox iGen 5 Digital Printing Press.

This press together with our iGen150 Digital printing press provides us with the ability to deliver higher volume digital print runs to customers, which enables more economic pricing. It also presents greater security in assurity of supply. We know we can deliver large volumes in very competitive turnaround times.

Just as important as the press processes is pre-press and post-press 

Our process through prepress and postpress are just as rigorous as the print itself, from selection of stock to colour control.

We now have a new online web to print portal*, which enables a seamless user experience for existing clients to upload digital content and track their job.

We recently upgraded our Heidelberg Image Control from Series 1 to Series 2, with a lot more features and functionality. This goes hand-in-glove with our new prepress software, *Prinect Production Manager. It provides us with online and interactive proofing functionally, and a production module.

We’ve also upgraded our proofing technology to include the latest state-of-the-art Spectrophotometer, which enables us to continuously monitor our proofing devices so they do not go out of Colour Management Specifications.

Whether we’re printing magazines, brochures, packaging or menus, Complete always uses full process across whichever method of print is more appropriate.

External Audits in ISO 9001 (Quality), ISO 14001 (Environment), FSC (mark of responsible forestry) and PEFC (promoting responsible forest management) – certify us as a trusted manufacturer.

*Rolled out to clients progressively commencing September 2021


Leadership is a word that is regularly bandied about. After almost 30 years in business, here’s what it means to Complete Colour, across the three things that really matter to us:

  • People
  • Printing
  • Planet

Why Our People Are The No.1 Focus

When we talk about ‘our people’, internally or externally, we don’t just mean the Complete Colour team, or our clients, or our supply, logistics or charity partners. We consider all of the people that our work impacts. But when it comes to leadership, we direct our focus where we think we can have the biggest and most immediate impact:

  • Happiness
  • Health
  • Safety

The happiness of the people we work with; staff, clients and partners, is paramount. There is no doubt that the global pandemic, and other recent world events, have presented challenges to happiness – and mental and physical health – as we strive to acclimatise to a different way of living. 

But we can still easily check in on a colleague, on a supply or logistics partner, a client, a neighbouring business or the wider business community (which also helps us to stay connected to knowledge and networking outside of our own business bubble). A simple text message, phone call – or even a ‘like’ or comment on social media can go a long way.

Director Geoff Lawyer and Client Services Coordinator Adam Keating support National Red Nose Day with red and white polkadot socks

Complete Director Geoff Lawyer prioritises fresh air and conversation on a daily basis: “We’ve done plenty of walking client meetings,” he says.

“And I go on a socially distanced walk with one staff member every day I am at the office. It has been most valuable to me to find out how our staff are. Most are grateful to come to work and have an outlet to be a touch more social than in the confines of their home.”

The nature of an Australian print business is that most of the staff cannot work from home, so walking meetings have become part of the daily routine. We still conduct socially distanced face-to-face meetings, and communicate via in-person toolbox meetings or COVID Update meetings, which have become regular calendar appointments. 

Cutting Edge Print

Our Cheltenham print floor is a large, light space, with high ceilings and great airflow. And in July 2020 we installed thermal imaging and facial recognition cameras to monitor physical health, and to keep employees and guests safe. 

The thermal imaging camera is just one example of how we use technology to keep our staff safe. Cutting edge technology on the print floor not only means that we can ensure the very best output, it also keeps our staff as safe as possible. 

We prioritise new technology and machinery – and the rigorous training that goes with it. In 2020, we invested in the top of class Xerox iGen 5 Digital Printing Press. The machine provides us with the ability to deliver higher volume digital print runs to customers, so that we can pass on savings from economies of scale to the customer. It also presents greater security in assurity of supply in these uncertain times. And it enables us to deliver high quality, large volume output in very competitive turnaround times whether we’re printing books, manuals, magazines or menus.

More recently, we have upgraded our proofing devices to include the latest state-of-the-art Spectrophotometer, which enables us to continuously monitor our proofing devices so they do not go out of Colour Management Specifications.

We have also upgraded our Heidelberg Image Control from Series 1 to Series 2, with a lot more features and functionality. This goes hand-in-glove with our new prepress software, Prinect Production Manager. It provides us with online and interactive proofing functionally, and a production module.

Heidelberg Image Control Series 2

We passed another audit with flying colours late last year – in ISO 9001 (Quality) and ISO 14001 (Environment) – certifying us as a trusted print manufacturer. 

Environmentally responsible printing

We’re proud to be a leading sustainable Victorian print company, with environmentally responsible policies and procedures that mean we always choose the path of lowest impact to outstanding quality. It also means that our offices and print floor are 100% powered by renewable energy sources – either from our own 200Kw LGC* (728-panel) rooftop solar farm, or from GreenPower on days when we can’t generate enough electricity. We run an eco-recycling solvent tank recovery system, we use vegetable-based ink and we only purchase paper that is sourced from well-managed forests certified to a credible standard.

As Complete Colour approaches 30 years in business, we are extremely proud to be positioned as a leader in those things that really matter to us; people, printing and the planet. Our systems and processes are all geared towards these considerations across everything we do – with quality, value, service and trust. 

This is what Complete leadership means to us.

Complete is part of the STK Business Club and we are a proud supporter of St Kilda Football Club.


The Milky Way Galaxy, which includes our solar system, is a series of relationships built on complex matter. Humans are complex matter – and we move in complex systems too. But ultimately, the most important thing to us is relationships; relationships with our planet and with other humans, built on trust. That is all we have when we are born – and all we need through life.

Relationships play a major role in printing; not only between the rosette palette of colours and our high-end machines, but also between people. When a print project is green-lighted, we take multiple steps to ensure the truest and highest-quality reproduction is achieved, with each of our specialists.

The process is complicated to the untrained eye, but years of human experience – combined with artificial intelligence and a structured process – ensures quality control. Clear communication is paramount in reaching the desired result, because no two jobs are the same.

Reproduction to actual ink on paper is all in the planning. It could be coated material (gloss, matt or satin), or uncoated offset – with different printing, lamination, embellishments and binding (PUR, Lock Binding, Perfect Binding or Saddle stitching). The entire job hinges on the print production relationship, and ultimately, TRUSTED skill sets and process designs.

All of the hard work mentioned above can be undone if the fulfilment, labelling, (item code, product number, barcode and logo) are not applied and delivered in line with our exacting standards. This is where relationships and trust really come into play; further enhanced by modern tracking technology so that we know the exact whereabouts of the end product.

The final piece in the Complete cycle is to check in on any feedback from the client (face-to-face where possible). ‘No news is good news’ might be enough for some businesses, but not us. We’re hungry to continue improving.

From vegetable-based inks to paper stocks, relationships with our supply partners are crucial.  We use cutting-edge multi-million dollar litho and digital presses and have 24/7 preventative service agreements in place with key supply partners such as Heidelberg (Litho Press and Fujifilm digital presses). Our immediate and extended office community (physical and virtual IT support, and third party specialists including our fleet of expert technicians) are all essential branches in the relationship tree.

The 724 rooftop solar panels that power up to 100% of the required energy consumed at the office (depending on time of year) – and the GreenEnergy we draw down from the grid to top up are testament to the weight Complete Colour places on our relationship with the planet.

Through our recycling and waste processes, and careful sourcing of environmentally responsible materials, we try to lighten our footprint on this planet in every way possible.

Like any service business, our former, current and future client relationships are key, and we definitely miss the valued face-to-face interactions during this covid-impacted period. It’s not just the businesses we work with that we love, but the people we speak to and meet along the way every day. And because we truly value those relationships, we have done more COVIDSafe outdoor walking meetings over the last two months than we have had in-office meetings.

Close to home, our charity partners and neighbouring businesses need our relationships more than ever in these challenging times, and we’ve been sure to keep an open dialogue with our communities, offering support where we can.

The touchpoints we have with people on our databases, and those we communicate with over email, telephone, Zoom, Teams or social media, are created through relationships we have built, nurtured and evolved over many years – some over almost 30 years.

Through those three decades this business has been running, the relationship between directors Tim Michaelides and Geoff Lawyer, their team members and all the families and friends behind those team members, have played integral roles.

And it’s during lockdown periods, our relationships with team members, clients and partners are all tested and stretched further than ever, but by ensuring our personal relationships (including the relationship with ourselves as individuals) are prioritised, we have the best chance of continuing to create the best outcomes and impacts.

Our relationship with you, dear reader, is infinitely valued. Through each of our business pillars (quality, value, service and trust) we harness relationships to achieve the best possible outcome for your business and for our business.

If you know of a business who needs a trusted relationship with a print company, please contact us directly or share this blog.


If your FY21 was reproduced on a page, what would it look like? And more importantly, what would FY22 look like?

When the concept of an organisation (for profit or non-profit) is first conceived, the person (or people) that breathe life into it also construct a DNA. 

This DNA is the foundation to everything that is core to the organisation; methodologies, values, benefactors, stakeholders – and personality. 

An organisation’s personality – the way it behaves, talks and presents itself – is its brand, underpinned by the business’ true north.

A brand can change and evolve – even multiply – over time, but everything an organisation does signposts and impacts the following:

  • How recognisable the brand is
  • What the brand’s reputation is
  • How relevant the brand is
  • How the brand resonates with people

As an organisation grows, its DNA informs identity, purpose, values and other more concrete traits that are harder to change, such as reputation.

Colour, font, design, paper stock, finish effects and delivery can say as much about a brand as its content, or even its financial performance. Print also affords a touchpoint that digital material never will.

For the audience that accesses an organisation’s printed material, the whole interactive experience is about so much more than words or pictures. The experience impacts how the audience recognises the brand, what they think of the brand, how relevant the brand is to them at that particular moment, and how the brand resonates with them. Ultimately, it heavily influences their decisions to engage – or not engage – with the brand.

And that is why deciding firstly what will be on your page, and then what will stand out on your page, is so important.

Take Brand Australia for example. Unlike the red earth, pristine beaches and tropical territories, the country’s brand can be shaped to forge identity. People recognise the road sign pictured above to insite caution for crossing kangaroos. The world knows that the kangaroo is unmistakably Australian, because the nation uses it to brand some of its proudest exports – look no further than the Australian Cricket Team, the front of an Australian passport, Qantas Airways and Mem Fox’s illustrations. In each of the physical arenas these exports operate, the kangaroo is proudly printed – be it on a cricket jersey, a Boeing 747, a passport or a kid’s book.

At Complete, our core job is to print brand communication onto material. It is to capture a moment in time with something tangible – like a stake in the ground.

We like to have fun with clients – and enjoy the process – but we also have a deep understanding of the impact our representations and reproductions can have. We work hard to understand the DNA of every organisation that trusts us to print, and we embrace the importance of capturing a moment for them to create something that will last.


Melbourne-based print and communication specialist Complete Colour is a 29-year-old business built on the strongest foundations.

Managing Director Tim Michaelides started the business in June 1992, servicing clients by day and operating the presses at night. The pillars were set and the foundation built for what we know as Complete today – a sophisticated leader at the forefront of cutting edge print and communication technology.

The business is no longer just about print, but the original pillars and foundations continue to inform every decision and action for Tim and his business partner Geoff Lawyer (Director and Head of Sales and Marketing) – and the other 30 team members at Complete.

The Complete Pillars

  1. Service
  2. Quality
  3. Value
  4. Trust

For the last three years, Complete has been an Associate Member of the Large Format Retail Association (LFRA), and has printed the last two editions on the Large Format Retail Directory (pictured above). This 820-page handbook is relied upon by hundreds of Large Format Retail businesses across Australia.

“Our team loves the [Large Format Retail Directory] project from the very beginning,” said Tim Michaelides.

“From colour matching and stock selection, to hand delivering the final directory, we’re very proud to work on such an essential publication.”

“With the 10 Year Edition (2018/19), we presented an alternative cover to enhance the durability of the Directory, moving across to a hardbound cover and adding some embellishment.

“We always look to improve our client products, offering service, quality and value.”

Complete understands the demands on each business in the LFRA. With a personalised approach, they are agile enough to deliver across digital and offset print – including variable data – and the logistics and storage solutions that come with projects.

During 2020 crisis moments, Complete worked with Beacon Lighting to regularly deliver POS merchandise materials directly to 113 (now 117) Beacon Lighting stores across Australia to combat delays caused by resource shortages or compromised efficiencies. This arrangement has continued into 2021, despite freight service improvements.

“Our door is always open,” said Director and Head of Sales and Marketing, Geoff Lawyer, who – like Tim – prides himself on always being accessible to staff, partners, and clients.

“We understand the Large Format Retail sector and all the logistics involved. We’ve worked closely with Beacon Lighting, Plush, Provincial Home Living, and others, so we know how to deliver on a tight, hard deadline. We also understand how the sector has changed over the last year, and we want to continue to support in every way we can.”

Compete was an early adopter in the digital print space, moving across with its first digital press from Fuji-Xerox Machine in 2006. 

Through every evolution and transition however, the business has held fast to its purpose and focus on service, quality and value.

In October 2020, the business passed another audit with flying colours – in ISO 9001 (Quality) and ISO 14001 (Environment). Certified since 2007, the company has now moved to a top of the class model with the new Xerox iGen 5 Digital Printing Press and Colour re-Certification in January 2021.

Powerful digital equipment provides Complete with the ability to deliver higher-volume customised digital print runs to customers, which enables more economic pricing. It also presents greater security in assurity of supply.

Complete prints 45,000 menus for Fresh Food Service Melbourne (Recipe & Meal Box Delivery) every week. The whole project is completed within a 24-hour window; from receiving the file (with 30 variants) to delivering the menus.

It is a big job, but a consistent process has enabled the team to transition through change over the last 29 years so that they are ready to continue exceeding client expectations.

“One of the biggest outcomes of last year for Complete was the en-masse return of print to Australia,” says Geoff Lawyer.

“Due to our short production and shipping timelines – and pride in service, quality and value – we’re printing a lot of jobs that businesses previously sent offshore.

We build in time and value at every stage of the process.

“We build in value by using environmentally-responsible, quality material to ensure that the product is something everyone can celebrate and rely on.

Across the business, Complete works with zero compromise on quality and environmental accountability. This means the business is able to achieve the greatest outcomes with the lightest footprints.

The Melbourne print communications hub generated 236.71 megawatt hours (Mwh) of solar energy in 2020, thanks to its 200Kw LGC* (728-panel) rooftop solar power plant. This is sufficient power to run 34 average-usage Australian homes for a whole year. Since January 2021, Complete has partnered with GreenPower to ensure any top up energy is also responsibly, sustainably sourced.



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