Tag Archive for 'Design'

URGENT: Help Keep College of Visual Arts Open

This is a call for your help. As a reader of Beast Pieces you may have wondered where a crazy letterpress shop like Studio On Fire began. Here is a little background story from company principal, Ben Levitz:

I went to College of Visual Arts (CVA) as a kid right out of high school. I choose it because of the small campus size and the fine arts focused BFA degree. I wasn’t sure what on earth I wanted to do with an “art” degree, but I knew I loved making things. And I liked that CVA wasn’t the slickest or fanciest campus. It seemed like a place for focused art exploration with an amazing faculty. I enrolled with my mother still skeptical. ( I think she was just nervous about sending her son off to do nude figure drawing. ) I embarked on a four year arts journey that taught me fancy words like chiaroscuro and gestalt. I learned about everyone from Hieronymus Bosch to Paul Rand. I even did my nerdy typography-based senior thesis on a fellow named William Dwiggins who designed typefaces for letterpress printing. I graduated with a BFA in Communication Design and a passion for visual culture.

I struggled during my schooling choosing between a design major and a sculpture major. I ultimately chose a design major because I wanted to eat. But after graduating CVA in 1998, I quickly found in my first design job a very different experience than the one I had as a CVA student. Most of my work day was locked into the glowing screens of design, not making stuff with my hands. And most of the stuff I did make, ended up in trash cans of clients. I sought change. I wanted to make stuff that people would love and keep. I wanted some outlet for craft that related back to my college experience. So, in the fall of 1999, my and evenings and weekend were spent beginning a letterpress printing space in my home basement. I called it Studio On Fire, named for the Typographer Frederick Goudy who twice lost his lifes work to studio blazes. Fast forward 14 years – the company Studio On Fire is  a best-in-class letterpress shop with a dozen employees and clients all over the world. Gestalten even published a recent book of projects that were printed in our studio.

Learning at CVA was one of those amazing life experiences that was so formative to my valuation and passion for craft and design. As Studio On Fire grows as a business, this is what we value. Craft. Design. It was that simple framework of learning that provided a chance for me to focus my passions and ultimately build a unique business that reflects the things I love.

The sudden announcement in January of CVA’s  closure was a bombshell. In addition to running Studio On Fire, I’m now busy as President of a group called CVA Action making the case to our creative community that CVA deserves a chance to stay open. Yes, it is going to take some big changes. It is going to require vision beyond what the current Administration and Board of Trustees could offer. This change is big and we have an amazing team of people stepping in to surround this effort. I believe those changes can be made and I am stepping up to play my part. This is vital to the Saint Paul community, vital to Minnesota, and vital to creativity. But we need your help.

I’m going to the mat and asking you to consider a gift of money to this vital part of our creative community. If you love what we do at Studio On Fire, you already recognize the value a creative education brings to business. I am hoping you care enough about this cause to contribute.

For more details about our fundraising campaign, visit our website CVA Action. Time is of the essence. This is our last, best hope to save our beloved school and make the needed changes so we can put CVA back on the path to a successful and sustainable future. Please make a donation in any amount today. (UPDATE: no longer taking donations, thanks to all who donated)

You can make this happen, and we are so grateful for your support.

Thank You.

Ben Levitz, Principal, Studio On Fire

Finessence Photography Identity and Stationery

A husband and wife photography team, Finessence Photography had just adopted a new moniker and was looking for a fresh look when they approached us to handle their rebrand and produce their print collateral. While we spend a lot of time (happily) printing for other designers, it’s always a treat for us to act as the design firm behind a project that hits our pressroom. For the business cards we created a custom stock, duplexing Crane Lettra Flo White 110C and Beckett Concept Mohagany 130C. The rich mahogany stock was a great way for us to counterbalance the ultra-feminine flourish filled “F” we created for the main logo with something a little more masculine. A custom brown ink was mixed to match the mahogany

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stock for the crisp letterpress printed type sandwiched between two bands of a sculptural teal pattern. We were also able to use one of our favorite finishing techniques, giving the slightly undersized cards a splash of teal edge coloring. After completing the business cards we proceeded to create a photo folio and gift certificate to round out their set of presentation materials. The structure of the photo folio is a call back to the flimsy paper sleeves drugstore prints used to come in, but this version is a bit fancier. A custom steel rule die line was created, which included an interior diecut to hold the business card, letterpress printed with two inks, hand assembled and kept closed with a velcro closure. We’re also pretty proud to say this system was a winner in the 2010 FPO Awards.

Sundae & Wiener Poster Pair

With warmer weather starting to slide in, we designed this pair of prints to celebrate summer’s tastiest treats. Featuring wieners (tube steaks, anyone?) and ice cream sundaes, these were printed with three inks on French Poptone Whipped Cream 140C.

Sorry, we can’t split the set, only sold as a combo meal. Available in our shop.

See Jane Blog Business Cards

Jane, from the family/design/lifestyle blog See Jane Blog, approached us to design and produce some fresh cards for her before she headed off to the annual Alt Summit blogger conference in January.  Jane was great to work with, she had a few ideas and elements she wanted included but really lets us run and create something that would look great letterpress printed. Some of our favorite features include the custom diecut (designed to accentuate her signature asterisk) and the thin linework pattern (referencing back to her patterned blog header).

Production wise, these were printed on Crane Lettra Flo White 110lb cover stock that was custom duplexed to a 220lb weight after printing. With two inks, a blind impression and a custom diecut, the presssheet for these cards ran through the press a total of four times.

You can also read about these in a lovely post over on Jane’s blog.

 

AIGA Minnesota Design Show Call for Entries

We are very involved with the Minnesota chapter of AIGA and always try to enter their annual Design Show that comes around each spring. Last year we were honored to win the “People’s Choice” award (voted on by those who attended the show) for our Golden Rule Poster. As per tradition, the winner of the People’s Choice is asked to design the show materials for the following year–we gladly accepted the job.

Under direction of the AIGA MN Design Show committee we were challenged to make an interactive object in lieu of the usual poster. Charles Youel jumped into the project as writer and after several meetings, sketches and cups of coffee, we came up with an idea to send a pair of cards with punchouts that could be used to actually build something on your desk. We had to go through multiple rounds of prototyping to adjust the construction and functionality of the die, but we couldn’t be happier with the end result.

The set of cards (everyone receives two, for a total of 16 punchout pieces) were letterpress printed with two inks on Neenah Classic Crest Solar White Eggshell 100c, custom duplexed after printing to make 200c. To achieve the our final product, every card was trimmed down and run through the press two more times after printing to diecut with two custom dies–one used to create the slits and one to cut the shapes. A custom envelope was also designed and produced before the whole set was sent over to Shapco for insertion and mailing.

Be sure to check out the hash tag #designshow on Twitter as people tweet their creations and enter AIGA MN’s 2012 Design Show–online entry opens March 5th!

Letterpress Open House // Black Arts Warm Hearts

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New SOF website with expanded shop!

You may have noticed on your way to purchase a 2012 Studio On Fire Letterpress Calendar that studioonfire.com has a completely overhauled look! We’re pretty proud of the new site and have plans to add more features in the coming weeks.

Being the paper-oriented people that we are, our friends over at westwerk design handled the creation of the site for us. Not only were they were great to work with, but their studio is conveniently located just upstairs from our basement workspace.

Along with the new site is additional merchandise for the store! All of our classic items are still available, as well as the 2012 calendar and several new posters.

Above: Artisan Activist Poster, Crane Lettra Flo White 110C, 13″ x 19″, 2 Color Split Fountain on 2 Separate Plates + 1 Tonal Varnish

 

Above: Sunshine Poster, Crane Lettra Flo White 110c, 12″ x 16″, 3 Color Split Fountain

 

Above: Matter Into Spirit Poster, Crane Lettra Flo White 110c, 13″ x 20″, 2 Color Split Fountain + Blind Impression

 

 

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.

AIGA MN Design Camp Event Recap

Yesterday we posted about our involvement printing the materials for AGIA MN’s 2011 Design Camp, but we thought it would be fun to share a peek into the event itself.

Ben (Principal), Selina (Studio Director) and David (Pre-press) were all up north participating as campers and Sam (Designer) was on the committee running the event, so Studio On Fire was well represented over the weekend. We had a booth up at the Friday night Business Expo where people were able to snag a paper airplane and pet assorted samples that we brought to show. Keynote speakers, a networking dinner, a variety of workshops, collaboration lunches and late night bonfires quickly filled the rest of the weekend.

Keynote speakers included Peter Buchanan-Smith (Best Made Company), Jamie Koval (VSA Partners), Michael Osborne (Michael Osborne Design), Jan Wilker (karlssonwilker), and  Josh Kenyon and Colby Nichols (Jolby), it was great to meet each of them. Special thanks to the dudes from Jolby for stopping by the studio after camp and going with us to grab patio beers- good times.

Enough chatter, on to the pictures! David took some great shots throughout the weekend (on actual film!) and Phong Tran (of dblthink.com and official AIGA MN photographer) was gracious enough to share some of his photos, since we were too busy playing with wild cats to bust out our cameras most of the time.

 

 

Oooh, Ornithology Overprinting

We printed these for New Found Original – a new online shop selling a carefully selected and ever changing collection of graphic products. They commissioned artist and designer Ryan Todd to design a set of four luxury letterpress coasters for their first collaboration project and introductory collection. The coasters are now for sale at NewFoundOriginal.com and Ryantodd.com

These were letterpress printed in two colors on extra heavy 60pt blotter stock. With the colors common to all four coasters, they were printed together and die cut four up out of the press sheets. We were really happy with how well the overprinting colors actually create a much darker third color. This is overprinting at it’s best – when the illustration is really planned to make use of that third color. Complementary colors do that best.

 

 

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.

Space150 V26 Business Cards

Just launched this last week was the 26th version of the Space150 identity. These guys change up their identity every 150 days. They designed this business card with lots of production love. Here are the production steps:

1. Custom pasted triple layer stock. Black with a white middle, 330lb total weight.

2. Black foil on the logo side

3. Letterpress printed metallic ink on the info side

4. Die cut with little “snake bite” marks

See previous Space150 card versions we’ve printed here and here and here.