Tag Archive for 'blotter'

Letterpress Love With Baker Associates

We’ve worked with BAKER here in Minneapolis on a few really fun letterpress projects over the last year or so. And they’ve designed some beautiful things for pressing. Most recently, their second installment of the bird themed holiday ornament cards rolled off the press. It is a little bird (a good luck Cardinal) with an ornate frame that die cuts and punches out of thick 60 point blotter stock. It is printed two color each side.

Last years card for Baker was a die cut bird ornament as well. The same production specs, but featuring a punch out owl.

Also in the last few months, we worked through the letterpress printing of the new Baker identity on their business cards. And is was quite the undertaking. They have an interesting post about the process of icon development here. Each employee has their own icon and each card has four color ways. With over 60 employees that was a lot of icons and business cards! They are a custom duplexed 200lbC black and white stock in an undersized narrow card format. (1 x 3.5 inches) BAKER is printed in silver on the black side and the white side receives the four different color variations.

BAKER is a Minneapolis based Branding + Design firm specializing in package design. On the web: bkrdsn.com or tweet: @bkrdsn

Q&A – Contemporary Letterpress Printing

Studio On Fire principal Ben Levitz answered some questions on contemporary letterpress printing last week for “letterpress week” over at Oh Hello Friend. Here is the Q&A exchange:
Just what is letterpress?
Letterpress is a method of relief printing. It is the process of inking a type high reversed image and then transferring that ink to a substrate, making a print of the positive image. While previous generations relied on moveable wood and metal type, most modern letterpress is achieved with a plastic material called photopolymer. Photopolymer has bridged the gap between the computer and letterpress printing presses. A digital file with correct specifications can be moved to water wash polymer plates and printed on letterpress in place of handset materials.
So why Letterpress? How does letterpress stand unique as a printing method?
Letterpress used to be the primary method of all printing. Nowadays designers have so many printing options – digital printing, offset printing, screen printing – letterpress as a printing method is such a small part of todays printing industry. However, we’ll give you three good reasons letterpress is alive and well.
#1. Tactile Design – Like to feel what you see? That sculptural impression is a primary reason for using letterpress printing. This heavy impression is how letterpress has reinvented itself over the past couple decades. Things like text, line work and patterns offer an impression into soft paper material. As a designer, if you get the artwork right and pair it correctly with a material, the resulting impression is unmistakably letterpress. It is an effect unmatched by any other printing method.
#2. Unique Materials – Just try running a toothy 600gsm cotton stock through a digital printer. Maybe some thick blotter paper for coasters? A thick duplexed stock business card stock perhaps? Even thin onion skin stock or napkins? Yes, letterpress will print it all. Lots of special stocks that just won’t run through modern offset and digital presses. Letterpress offers material versatility that is unmatched by any modern presses. Just don’t ask for slick coated stocks, they don’t like to take an impression.
#3. Upscale Presentation- The materials we print on for letterpress generally cost more than going to any local quick print shop. And the time consuming nature of letterpress printing process means it is not mass produced. It has that artisan quality which sets it apart. The cost of each color makes projects printed with letterpress have a certain simplicity. Generally letterpress projects are only a couple colors. There are no slick gradients or drop shadows. We hear all the time that anything looks better letterpress. We’d say this is because letterpress makes people simplify the design.
What is your heart and passion behind letterpress?
Speaking as both a designer and letterpress printer for the past decade, I’d say letterpress is still gaining momentum as a production method. When people get a letterpress printed business card handed to them and turn it over in their hand, they feel it, look at it closer and consider it . It literally buys extra seconds in their hands. It is this notable pause that exemplifies letterpress printing as a breath of fresh air. As our society increase our digital communications and the time we spend in front of glowing screens, letterpress printing becomes an even more unique counterpoint. It is something we both see AND feel. We are tactile beings and letterpresses tangibleness makes us connect.
My passion behind letterpress printing and starting Studio On Fire goes back to studying original masters like William Morris, W.A. Dwiggins and Fredrick Goudy. These fellows truly understood and merged both design and production. A critique of todays design reality is that fewer and fewer designers understand the production method for which they are designing. As designers we have so many options, we’ve become generalists. At Studio On Fire design and letterpress are dating again. We are committed to making letterpress printing one of the most premium and relevant production methods for contemporary design. Understanding our niche letterpress market and offering production advice to the designers that come to us how we work. Merging design intent with letterpress printing keeps our work exciting.
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Biography – Ben Levitz, Studio On Fire
Company founder Benjamin Levitz received his BFA in Communication Design from the College of Visual Arts. He spent nearly a decade in the creative industry working with design leaders at Kilter, Larsen/California, and Thorburn design agencies. His creative expertise has focused on design as a branding tool for a large and varied list of national companies with work consistently appears in award shows and publications of AIGA, Communication Arts, Graphis, Print magazine and Type Directors Annual. He has served as an adjunct faculty member at the College of Visual Arts teaching advanced typography course work.
Ben’s tactile design sensibility led to the founding of Studio On Fire. The studio began in 1999 with a vision of uniquely combining design and production skills in modern letterpress work. Ben left the agency world in 2006 to run the studio full time. The Minneapolis studio currently produces it’s own design and letterpress projects in addition to printing custom work from for an impressive list of agencies and design firms across the United States.
See and read more at the company website studio on fire.

Augmented Reality Drink Coaster

This seems like a good Friday post – drink coasters. And not just any drink coasters, augmented reality drink coasters designed by our friends at Atomic Playpen. These ephemera inspired coasters were sent out to Atomic clients in a metal case. There are four coasters inside, each with a different marker on the back side. The instructions direct you to their anniversary website where you hold up one of the markers to your webcam and enjoy the action. (If you don’t have a coaster from Atomic, you can still print a marker at the site and give it a try.)

We letterpress printed them on 60pt blotter board with very dense black ink coverage so the marker would work properly. The sheet was then die cut into the four coasters. So cheers, we’ll have another round and add it to our beer wall.

Forward Blotter Business Cards

We made some new friends in London at a digital agency called Forward. They rebranded themselves recently and designed these cards that feel very undigital and textural, and that is what we do best. They are printed on Ahlstrom Blotter stock with custom duplexing to bring the thickness to about 50pt. This blotter board has an uneven pulp formation that gives the flood of ink a washed, almost denim feel on the soft paper stock. The cards are edge colored in a matching purple. And this was no small task, an office of over forty people is a lot of cards. We ran them 10 cards up on press five press forms.

Eight Hour Day Letterpress Holiday Card

Not that a heart felt email blast or animated web message for the holidays isn’t all well and good, but as you may have guessed we are suckers for a good old fashioned ink on paper. The next few days, we’ll show some previous custom holiday projects we’ve letterpress printed in the hopes of inspiring your own letterpress holiday projects. The holiday card seems to be one of those notorious last minute tasks for creative types. We are already heavily into estimating custom cards for many designers. And as much as we love rushing last minute projects, earlier is always better and leaves many more production options available. Word to the wise, ask us early for an estimate on your project.

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Who says typographic characters don’t make delightful tree ornaments? This card was designed by Katie and Nate over at Eight Hour Day. The green combined with hot pink makes a unique holiday color combo. The card was die cut to produce two parts for a desktop Christmas tree, to be decorated further with objects on your desktop. It was letterpress printed on thick Fox River Blotter stock from Neenah Paper. Since the paper is produced without any surface sizing the blotter sheet has a more mottled appearance in how the textured surface accepts a large solid ink area like the green tree. This gives the printed piece some additional tactile quality. Fa la la la la, ooolala.

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Aphro Chic Blotter Business Cards

Abbie at Passing Notes is a master of refined print design. Her type is always exquisite and these cards for her client Aphro Chic were a pleasure to print. They are on a thick 60pt blotter stock with a flood of bold geometric pattern on the back and two color letterpress on the front. The blotter sheet has a pulpy appearance with lots of soft fiber texture. We printed the business cards along with a note card on the same press sheet so the print dollar went a bit further. The business cards were edge colored in a PMS match yellow for the perfect finishing accent.

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Blotter Board Letterpress Business Cards

Caryn Gutterman designed this business card for photographer Scott Regan. We are suckers for letterpress printing the unique, custom and out of the ordinary. And these business cards are no ordinary cards. If Scott Regan hands you a business card, you will KNOW he’s handed you a business card. The thick stock is 60pt blotter stock. It is a little more textured on one side than the other. The texture of this stock is deep – reminds us of the finish on an egg carton, kind of raw and porous in appearance. It takes some work  to print a solid letterpress, even more work on this stock. It’s not a fine surface like cotton sheets, but it’s soft and takes a nice impression which makes it attractive for letterpress. The paper just drinks up the ink and leaves paper fuzz everywhere – guess that’s why it’s a blotter stock. But the result is really beautiful. There is an uneven nature to the way the ink lays on the heavy formation of the paper. We printed the gray ink first, then the tightly registered yellow logo. The card was trimmed and edge colored in a PMS matching yellow. We like the simple modern design combined with the raw material – people will hang onto this card for sure.

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AIGA Minnesota – Studio On Fire Tour

Last night we had a rockin’ time showing off our studio space and letterpress shop to Minnesota AIGA members. A big thanks to Minnesota’s AIGA chapter for giving us the opportunity.

We talked about the relationship of letterpress and design, did some Q&A, drank some Pabst Blue Ribbon and wrapped up the event with a little coaster project on press. Take a look at the coaster sheet – it’s 60pt Ahlstrom blotter paper. We pre printed a couple colors before people arrived. Then, we had a different color set up on both of our Vandercook presses. Everyone got to pull a couple prints, then we die cut the sheet into the set of four coasters. Lots of paper touching and good times had by all. Thanks Kayd Mustonen for taking some pics to share.

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Black + Blotter Business Cards – Space150 v23

Space 150 changes their identity every 150 days. And with an identity process and look all their own, today marks the 23rd version of the Space 150 brand. This is a business card project we’ve managed the letterpress print production on for several versions now. Designed by Ned Wright at Space 150, this simple looking card still combines 4 production processes. Can you spot all four? Here they are:

250gsm Black Stonehenge sheet – FOIL STAMPED with gloss black foil.

22 pt White blotter  sheet – LETTERPRESS PRINTED with silver ink.

After printing, these sheets are DUPLEX pasted back to back for zero impression show through.

After trimming the cards to size, they are EDGE COLORED in black for a clean look on the edge.

We print these cards for around 70 people. For a large studio, value comes with quantity. It would be fiscally improbable for an individual to produce a design like this on a small run of cards. (If you have to ask, “How much?”…  )

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McKnight Artist Fellows – Letterpress Journal

We worked together with designer Stuart Flake and illustrator Brian Gunderson on this fine little journal project for the McKnight Foundation. The McKnight Foundation is truly one of the significant supporters of Minnesota artists. Each year they award grants to independent artists in several categories. This  journal was used to commemorate the artist fellows awarded in 2008.

The journal is perfect bound with a letterpress printed 60pt blotter board affixed on front and back covers. We found an existing library pocket and printed those to contain a card with the list of the artist fellows. Note the beautiful way Gunderson incorporates overprinting into his illustration to make a third color.

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