Archive for the 'Design' Category

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Target: Design United

Earlier this year we were asked to participate in Target’s Design United campaign. Target made use of the massive street level windows of their corporate location to showcase their bullseye logo as interpreted by 51 local artists. We were thrilled to be included and submitted a dozen prints for them to choose from. The display was up from April to October in downtown Minneapolis.

Our process started with a hand drawn mehndi inspired pattern that we scanned in and cleaned up to create a photopolymer plate. We also created a plate of the solid Target logo which we used to lay down some background colors, allowing us to utilize the transparent nature of the inks and achieve some great overprinting. Our pressman went to town and applied most of the inks by hand directly to the plates or paper, resulting in dozens of completely unique pieces. Some of our favorites are below, along with some shots of the installation that we took while it was up this summer.

Letterpress at AIGA MN Design Show

We stay active in the AIGA Minneapolis design community and are excited about the many projects printed in our shop that were in this years Design Show. With just over 90 pieces in the show – 11 of those had letterpress production in our shop. We are proud to be a trusted letterpress production partner for so many designers. Also notable – we took the AIGA MN Peoples Choice award for our own design of the Golden Rule poster. You can still buy one here.

But what does this mean for letterpress as a printing method? Why do designers and judges choose it? Why do the people love it? Here are a few thoughts…

Letterpress is a counter point to slick

The more prevalent digital printing and smart phones become, the stronger the counterpoint of a tactile production method like letterpress. The materials, the sculptural impression, the raw yet refined nature of it make a difference in your hand. We love our iphone as much as the next designer, but there is something in letterpress printing that digital media and digital printing can not touch.

 

Online Media Is Squeezing The Middle

A lot of the middle range print marketing is being cut out in favor of online business tools. The print industry overall has seen a pretty big smack down over the last few years. The remaining print budget for companies is going toward pieces that will work hard and stay memorable. Projects like business cards, invitations, and other highly visible print pieces get the budget with online media doing the heavy lifting.

 

Letterpress Simplifies Design

Letterpress makes designers simplify a layout. Pieces usually have just a couple colors, since each color is a separate pass through the press and costs add up quickly.  Things like gradients and drop shadows get kicked to the curb because they don’t plate well for letterpress. Artwork on letterpress gravitates toward type.

We’ll be doing some more in depth posting on some of these soon, but here is a summary of what we produced in this years show:

Capsule cards and covers for Blue Earth Interactive

Colle+McVoy an occasion card gift set for C+M All-Set Card-Set

Colle+McVoy Schwinn Calendar Poster,Studio On Fire design

Eight Hour Day cards and note cards for Eight Hour Day Stationery

FAME Annual party invitation and coasters FAME Fair Open House Invite

Loaf Nest LP record jacket, posted here Douglas Quin “Fathom” LP TAIGA records

Red Organic business cards, disc sleeve, folder for Gina Zeidler Photography

Holmberg Design cards and labels for Station K & Company Agency Branding

Studio On Fire our annual calendar, buy one here 2011 Studio On Fire Letterpress Calendar

Studio On Fire our print for a poster show, buy one here Golden Rule Poster

ZYDECO design business cards and brochure for  ZYDECO design Image System

 

Godspeed Poster with Bicycle Parts Typography

This poster was designed and letterpress printed here at Studio On Fire for the 2011 Artcrank, a poster show for bike people. The construction of this poster is an assemblage of prints we created with actual bicycle parts. Used bike parts were inked up with a brayer and printed by hand. We printed all kinds of parts: cranks, chains, cables, wheels, handlebars and even a seat. It was well worth the trip to One On One Bike to scavenge suitable parts from their basement bike bone yard. After inking each part individually we had a whole table full of prints to chose and build from. It was amazing how much type and texture come out of each part. These prints were then digitally arranged on top of a pencil sketched layout. The word “Godspeed” seems especially appropriate for cyclists, as a wish for someones safe and prosperous journey. It was plated in photo polymer and printed as a large format 20 x 26 letterpress print in 2 color on 100% cotton Crane Lettra. It can be trimmed and framed at 18 x 24 size.

The prints are available on our site for $30.

 

 

 

A Matchbook Made In Heaven

We designed this wedding invitation for the lucky couple that won our giveaway with Martha Stewart. It’s only too fitting that the couple we chose to work with will be jumping fires on their wedding night. Besides complimenting our studio name, their scheduled wedding night activities (get your mind out of the gutter) lends perfectly to the orange and white color palette featured by Martha Stewart.

Juan and Irma will be getting married in Madrid on the 24th of June, the night of “San Juan,” traditionally a night when friends and family gather to build bonfires and leap across them in celebration of the summer solstice. (We did some intense Googling and it appears that in many parts of Spain this is a party night not to be missed). They wanted to keep the invitations informal (reflecting the backyard bbq reception), to the point where it doesn’t even use the word wedding–we had to imply celebration and union strictly through the design.

With fire as a central part of the celebration, a matchbook format for the actual invitation seemed only natural. The whole letterpress printed suite is designed in physical layers, causing the viewer to interact as they unfold the invitation setting the stage for the matchbook sitting in the center of a custom frame. The invitation itself is a two and a half inch by three and a quarter inch matchbook that opens to reveal french folded text weight sheets (spanish on the front, english on the back), an intimate piece meant to directly reflect the fires that will be sparking that night.

The copy inside reads “Celebrating the arrival of the summer solstice (amongst other astronomical events),” so we created custom illustrations based around the sun, the moon and the stars to give the suite a celestial feel.

The wrap features the graphic sun inspired emblem with a smattering of stars making their way to a moon icon on the inside flap.

Several diecut papers and a pop of edge coloring create a custom built A7 size frame surrounding the matchbook invitation for mailing.

2011 Letterpress Calendar

The Studio On Fire Letterpress Calendar is a favorite project in our shop for nearly ten years. It’s been worked on by many contributors from all over the world. Each year Studio On Fire puts together a loose theme, color palette and paper choices, then we invite 5 other designers / illustrators to participate. We design 2 months, and each contributor designs 2 months. Its always nice to have a large cross section of stylistic approaches within a little package that sits on your desktop. And this year is no exception. 2011 participants include Studio On Fire Adam Garcia, Brian Gunderson, Jessica Hische, We Make It So, and Aesthetic Apparatus.

This years calendar is a departure from the usual graphic illustration in our previous versions. Our theme this year was “Letter Form Genus”, with many contributors incorporating type and lettering. We’ve not had a distinctly type related theme before, so this was extra fun. Some favorite details you’ll find are: a moustache wearing a monocle, a spider wearing a thong, a monkey skull on a snake skeleton, a hidden giraffe, and bacterial letter forms spelling “grow kindness.”

The calendar is printed all together on a large 26 x 20 size press sheet. It is trimmed down into 12 months on 3.25 x 5 inch cards. This year, the paper for the months and the outer wrap was a light brown Wausau Winter Wheat 100lb Cover. We design the tri fold outer wrap using bits and pieces of each months design, all mashed together and printed in a long strip.

The stand was a custom duplexed paper made from dark grey Fibermark Eviva Stone 100lbC and copper Stardream 111lbC paper stocks. Our easel stand design has a clever fold-out angled leg that reveals the inner metallic paper color. The grey stock is letterpress printed in one color metallic silver.

These are now available on our studio site.

We’ve been doing this calendar for almost ten years now and have been fortunate to have some really great people involved. See a couple previous years here: 2010 Calendar, 2009 Calendar, 2008 Calendar.

Golden Rule Letterpress Poster

This poster is a father and son collaboration. All elements are hand drawn by Koen (age 6) with a Sharpie marker at the dining room table, then arranged digitally. The type is the “Golden Rule” as penned in the honest hand of a child. Maybe what we learned in kindergarten is most important.

It is 14 x 20 in size, letterpress printed in yellow and gold inks on Legion White Eco Rag, 600gsm. Available for sale on our site.

Letterpress Video at Studio On Fire

Gestalten TV was in our studio and put together a great video.


You can get the podcast on itunes here.

For their visit, we had a little project on press called “The Pressroom Creed” – printing on 220lb Lettra and will be available soon for sale on our site. It is an adaptation of the better known Rifleman’s Creed, but for letterpress printers. Seriously, everyone in our pressroom must memorize this and we say it together each morning.

Paper Saw Blades

Since pretty much everyone needs a paper saw blade, we figured it was time to deliver. These heavy duty paper blades pop out of our latest promo card to fly through the air as a dangerous incarnation of business cards. You can toss them at pets, logs and trees, use them as coasters or keep them on hand to contact us for your next custom letterpress printing project.

(these are an upgrade from our previous ninja version)

Luxury Bath Salt Labels – Rain Soaps

We designed and letterpress printed bath salt labels for Connecticut based Rain Soaps. This salt is hand harvested (by monks in France) and uniquely presented in its natural state in an apothecary-style sealed glass jar.

We ran the three labels together on a small press sheet. The paper is a crack and peel Strathmore Soft White label stock. It is printed in one color and kiss cut to final size. Ahh, I’m more relaxed just looking at them.

Wild Air Letterpress Poster

This poster was letterpress printed for the Artcrank poster show here in Minneapolis, which opened this last weekend. Since much of this show tends to be image and graphic heavy, we wanted our poster to stand apart with lettering only. It is an excerpt from Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Considerations by the Way, 1860. The full sentence is actually, “Live in the sunshine, swim the sea, drink the wild air’s salubrity.” (But “salubrity” is such an odd word and just didn’t work well in the design.) The lettering started as a hand drawn sketch, then refined in Adobe Illustrator. We printed with a photopolymer plate on Crane Lettra 300gsm Florecent White at 18 x 24 size.  They are on display now at One On One in Minneapolis.

They sold well at the opening night and are still available. There was some confusion about them being sold out. They are $30, to be purchased at One On One Bike Shop.

You can also buy one, now for sale on our studio site as well. Cost is $40.

Vista Caballo Letterpress Stationery

Vista Caballo is a ranch retreat with a special connection to horses in Dove Creek, Colorado. We worked with Thinktopia to design this stationery system for the client. They already had a logo design and needed stationery developed using the existing mark.

One of the things often overlooked in design is the choice of materials. This is something we strive for in our own design work. Material selection can be a central component for building the look and feel of a brand.  In this stationery system we use a variety of brown toned papers to compliment the tactility of the letterpress printing and echo the desert landscape of the location. Kind of like making a color palette, instead we made a material palette. Each piece is printed with the same brown PMS color.

Letterhead is French Paper Speckletone Kraft, Envelope is French Paper Speckletone Chocolate, Business cards and Note cards are Crane Lettra Pearl White 220lb, Labels are Strathmore Soft White crack and peel stock, Journal covers are Fibermark Suedetex Tan 25pt with Smart Genesis Husk 70lbT gutt.

Richness of materials makes this stationery unique.

Feast Mpls Poster – Split Fountain Ink

Feast is a recurring public dinner designed to use community-driven financial support to democratically fund new and emerging artmakers. We did a poster for the upcoming event here at Studio On Fire. The size is 18 x 24. It was a hand drawn sketch, scanned and converted to a bitmap tiff to preserve the sketch texture. It was printed with a split ink fountain. Our split fountain had fluorescent orange ink on one side of the press and light blue ink on the other side, creating a nice purple gradient in the middle.