We love involved custom production projects with other design firms – especially identity systems. The refined work of designer Laurie DeMartino exemplifies the level of production we strive for in our letterpress shop. A keen eye for detailed type and color makes her design work striking. In fact, we believe she has a sixth sense related to finessing details. We worked with her to produce this identity system by matching her attention to detail on press.
Some noteworthy things about this system:
We partnered with another vendor to produce the offset floods of color on the letterhead and envelopes. Those big fields of color are next to impossible to hold consistent on letterpress. We can do larger areas of color (we did it on the note card and business card) but there is more variation in letterpress printing than in offset. When that variation is desirable we will print a flood of color on certain stocks. When it is not desirable, we recommend combining letterpress with offset. (Yes, that adds cost.) It is worth noting that we can print a large press sheet and often work in tandem with commercial offset printing.
Business Cards are 5 PMS /1 PMS. We matched the ink printed offset with our letterpress ink.
All the type and small graphics are letterpress printed. Light colored type is a heavy impression with custom mixed varnish. You can see in the letterhead detail and business card detail the show through on the reverse of the sheet.
The envelope is custom converted and has a perforation line across the flap.
This is a poster designed and letterpressed at Studio On Fire. It was for a gallery show called the Poster Offensive put on by our good friends at Spunk Design at the Frank Stone gallery in Minneapolis.
A couple years ago when this poster was designed, our countries leaders were talking about “exporting democracy”. I thought this quote by Albert Einstein was a counterpoint that summed up my feelings nicely. If the USA instead decided to export compassion I believe we’d find a more beautiful world.
It is printed on cotton paper in 2 color letterpress, size is 18 x 26. Designed by Benjamin Levitz at Studio On Fire. You can get one in the store on our website.
Another poster design we letterpress printed for Poster Offensive this last year is here.
When we work with designers on projects we have conversations about “production strategy.” Sometimes letterpress is a good fit for the design intent, sometimes not. And often times we combine other production methods to achieve the effect being sought after. Black business cards present a range of production challenges. Flooding a white paper with black ink doesn’t produce fine detail in small type sizes. Here are two projects featuring different ways to print on black paper by combining letterpress with other processes.
Jamie Wickard Card – Designed by our friends at Westwerk Design
This card was produced on black paper stock: Tonal Black letterpress ink and a gloss black FOIL (side 1) and Silver Letterpress (side 2)
Antitdote X Card – Designed by our friends at Antidote X
This card was produced on cream paper stock custom duplexed to black paper stock. (Black letterpress on the cream side and white ENGRAVING on the black side) Then it was finished with custom die cutting.
To achieve fine white type on a black background Engraving is the most premium (and most costly) printing method. By duplexing a black stock rather than printing black ink and reversing out the white we’ve achieved something letterpress and offset printing would not have done well – notice the fine 3 point serif type! White foil and screen printing can print on black, but not with detail like that. Letterpress printing does not do well printing opaque white on dark colored paper and achieving bright opacity either. Like offset printing, opaque white can be laid down with several passes and achieve a mottled looking white – not a bright white. As a rule for general production: only metallic inks have good opacity on dark stocks.
Of course this all combining of production methods comes at a cost. Which comes to a final point – KNOW YOUR CLIENT BUDGET. Our best production advice is to know what your client wants to spend before finalizing your design. If you have an extravagant design with multiple production steps and your client has only a $300 dollar budget, you’ve just wasted design time on something they can not afford to produce. But if you plan production along side design, you can present your client an option that doesn’t need rounds of compromise. That is what “production strategy” is all about.
Vintage machines live or die depending on our care of their lubrication needs. Certain areas on the Heidelberg Windmill presses have lots small oil points – like the gripper head and the paper feed. It is all to easy to over oil and end up with drips oozing everywhere, not cool when you are trying to keep your paper clean. One of our best friends to assist in this task is the Precision Pen Oiler. It is perfect for getting a small amount of oil right where you need it. And at under ten bucks, a lube job never cost less.
When Becky Rosenthal was launching her wedding photography business she asked us to both design and letterpress print her identity system. So many wedding invites are letterpressed, why not appeal to brides with the same tactility?
Here’s a couple design considerations for letterpress:
One of the things we like about letterpress is what happens to the white areas within a design. You can see in the logo below how the interior white spaces have a raised effect because the area around them is being pressed down. Creating those white spaces within a solid area is one of the things we try to include in our design work to show some dimension.
Another thing that works well in letterpress design is the inclusion of pattern. Rather than using large solid areas of color (which definitely are not well suited for letterpress) a flood of pattern adds both color and a texture that can be felt.
A wedding in Puerto Rico requires an invite worthy of the occasion. Bride and groom Ashley Geoffroy and Russell Austin co-designed these for their wedding. We printed the long folding letterpress card which perforates apart for the RSVP return. They gocco printed the fabric with the invite text. Then Ashley and her mom had a field day stitching everything together. An amazing amount of work with a beautiful outcome. It’s such a light and airy piece that stays modern with the accent stitching. Truly the one-of-a-kind invitation we love to be a part of producing.
Ok, this is not letterpress. But it is another one of those crazy little production services we can do that adds some vintage style texture. This is called pinhole perforation. We’ve also heard it referred to as rathole perforation. It is different from standard perforation in that it not only cuts the sheet, it actually removes a paper dot like an old school sheet of postage stamps. It works best on thinner stocks, but can work on card stock as well. This card is digitally printed on a dry gum stock. (lick and stick paper with re-moist adhesive on the back)
Jeff at Holmberg Design is great at using layers of texture in his projects and really working the production details. He designed these for their new arrival. We wish them the very best.
Our design friends over at Westwerk have some tremendous attention to detail. Be careful, these images are NSFW. With dense black and custom silver inks printed on heavy 160lb chocolate colored stock, these cards are pretty sexy. That black ink on the dark stock impresses a subtle layer of texture. The silver was toned back with a bit of black mixed in. And the offset printed label wrap with a nice accent color is inset with a die cut and provides the information. Perfect.
The economy being in the tank doesn’t mean people stop getting married. Letterpress wedding invitation sets can be affordable with a little planning. One of the things that we do to make printing them affordable is run all of the pieces on the same press sheet. Our presses are big enough to run several different cards on the same press sheet, then trim them down to size. This represents a huge cost savings over printing individual cards, setting up the press for each form on each card. Good god – that takes some time! Having a big press has it’s advantages.
We do not have a library of wedding invitations to choose from like many letterpress shops. Our approach to weddings is strictly custom. All the wedding work we print is either supplied by other designers or created in our studio.
Michael Carpenter at Switch Creative created these for his own wedding. We admire the simplicity and the typographic restraint. Three cheers to couples who can design their own invites and live to tell the tale.
You can see how he got all four of these cards printed together by comparing the final cards to the press sheet. The Invite, Reply, Save the Date and Thank You all pressed together makes the cost much more attractive than pricing them all individually. So think about the various pieces you need we’ll get them together on a sheet for you. It’ll save you money and create marital bliss.
Old travel destination postcards always offer typographic treats. Barrett Haroldson over at Colle McVoy designed some type on these postcards every bit as tasty. We love the mix of haltone texture and overprinting. They are 3/3 letterpress printed on the same press sheet using our big 13 x 18 Heidelberg Windmill running up a stack of 60 point blotter board. That mother turns it out.
I’m no sportsman, but these almost make me want to go fishing. Fishington is great resource to do just that, is spring here yet? And certainly check out Barretts blog.