Tag Archive for 'metallic'

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Verve Letterpress Woodgrain Business Cards

Designer of luxury stationery Leslie Vega created these business cards for the photographers of Verve Studio. Visit her blog post here for some additional images and details.

These letterpress business cards took us some time in production with six passes through the press. They feature a brown paper imprinted with a woodgrain texture in tonal varnish with the text in a metallic silver ink overprint. The offwhite side of the card is printed in three colors in tight, tight register. The stock is custom duplexed Crane Lettra Pearl White 110lb cover to Wausau Royal Complements Chocolate Truffle 100lb cover. The final card was round corner die cut to size.

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.

A Study In Black Letterpress Business Cards

In our custom letterpress work we see an almost daily request from designers for white inks and/or light colored inks printed on dark colored paper stocks. Since white ink and light colored inks are not completely opaque, the ink will print on the paper with some transparency. This ink transparency is more evident the darker the paper color. This issue represents a learning curve for folks coming to letterpress print production for the first time. White ink does not turn out bright white and light colors will not print lighter than the stock color they are printing on. Metallic inks are a notable exception and will print opaque on colored stocks.

These card design offers a look at what letterpress printing CAN do. These business card were designed by Aadvark Brigade, Chris Straley Photography, and JDH Group. The designs shown are printed on the same black paper stock – 200lb Wausau Eclipse Black.

- The Straley card is black and silver ink.

- The Aardvark card is Opaque white and silver inks.

- The JDH Group is black, silver and metallic blue overprinting the silver inks.

The final cards turned out great and offer a nice comparison of  how the various inks letterpress print side by side. Notice how the white ink has almost a blueish appearance. The black ink gives a nice tonal effect and a metallic color overprinting silver offers some additional opacity to the color.

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Old Red Hat Letterpress Business Cards

Scott Ray uses his favorite lid as his design monicker. He designed these cards using a colored paper stock and two inks. This card represents a couple really good ways to use ink on colored paper stock.

Using a colored paper is a great way to get a solid splash of color in a letterpress project without laying down a bunch of ink. But moving to darker colored papers presents challenges in printing. “Opaque” white ink really isn’t a great option since it really isn’t very opaque. With the exception of metallic inks, letterpress inks are transparent. So we used a metallic silver to print the lighter colored text. The tone-on-tone effect of printing a dark red ink on red stock is another great way to use ink on colored paper. The stock is 100lbC French Poptone which was custom duplexed to a double thick 200lb cover weight for a sturdy “thump factor”.

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Bingo, A Meat Raffle And Letterpress

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If you aren’t sure what a “meat raffle” is you should really look it up to fully understand the heritage of this design. It’s good to see a fine establishment carry on this noble tradition. Our friends at Fame created this cuss-worthy design for Continue reading ‘Bingo, A Meat Raffle And Letterpress’

Skin Of The Night By Deuce 7

One of the finest poster shops around is Art Minion in Northeast Minneapolis. We just completed a letterpress poster edition called “Skin Of The Night” they commissioned for artist Deuce 7. His fantastic illustrative style is influenced by train yards and riding the rails.

We completed the edition on a variety of colored stocks with an interesting spread of colors. Posters are one color, but the color of the stock changes and the color of the ink changes, giving the whole edition a wide variety of final combinations. These images show some of the metallic prints we rolled. There is silver, gold and copper ink on brown stock. It’s a good comparison of how metallic ink goes down on dark paper. And word has it that Deuce is hand embellishing some of the edition. You can buy one from Art Minion.

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An Advertising Sleeper Cell

In the spirit of the freemasons, there exists a creative group called Levy 7. Not much is known – they describe themselves as, “a collection of like-minded individuals who, through their awesomeness and grace, elevate the larger group in any and every social and professional endeavor, making us simply the most dynamic advertising sleeper cell/social club in the free world.”

The materials were designed by our friends in DesignWorks at BBDO in New York, a group that bleeds pure design talent. There are business cards, coasters and of course, cigar bands. We letterpress printed the materials in two metallic ink colors. The black paper is ultra thick custom duplexed Black Stonehenge. The white is paper is 179lb Crane Cover, 100% cotton. The cigar band stock was a black text weight from French Paper. After the labels were printed, we applied a remoist glue to the back edge and die cut them. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to form my own letterpress sleeper cell fraternity.

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ARTCRANK – A Poster Party For Bike People

If you are in Minneapolis, be sure to hit this one on April 4th. The ARTCRANK poster show blends a love for bikes and poster art. It is now in it’s third year. Here is a preview of a new print of the “cranky peddler” we just inked for Jason Strong. The light blue poster was in last years show, the brown poster is new and hot off the press for this years show – a perfect set. Make sure to be at the event to snag one, we only editioned 100.

The brown 17 x 22 poster is printed on French PopTone Hot Fudge stock. We printed dense black ink for the background, then overprinted the metallic silver. Note the size of the plate (9 x 12) in relation to the 17 x 22 sheet size. Since letterpress plate cost can add up quickly, keeping the plate size smaller keeps the production costs down. (Two plates for a full 17 x 22 image size would add up to around $400.)  And we love the detail we get from photopolymer plates too. The line work in the polymer plate material holds up very well. We recommend lines not go below .35pt in size.

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Love Correspondence: Letterpress Engagement Book

What does a really classy guy do when it is time to pop the big question? Buy a ring to be sure. But here is another little something – a small book of various emails between the couple,  collected, bound and side sewn as a letterpress book. We designed this little gem as a request from the groom-to-be. He compiled all the email notes between the two of them from the past four years and sent them to us. We’ll keep the couple and their notes anonymous, but here are the production details:

The gutt of the book is digitally printed in black text. The pages have a single hit of blind letterpress on the french folded edge. The pages are side sewn together and tuck into a custom hard bound book cover with black book cloth. We printed a custom liner on the cover interior with silver ink on black paper. The cover of the book and the title page are also letterpress printed in silver ink. The paper is 100 percent cotton Crane Lettra 80 lb text.

We’ve confirmed that she said yes.

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Rhymesayers Cards – Metallic Color and Heavy Ink

These guys are certainly one of the hottest Minneapolis record labels. Rhymesayers Entertainment sent us this business card design for a raw and painted letterpress look.

Production turned out sweet, but it has some letterpress challenges.

Colored Metallic Ink on Black Stock

This card is printed on a custom duplexed paper – French Construction Black glued to French Speckletone. On the black side we printed a red metallic ink. Metallic ink colors on in letterpress or offset printing are opaque BUT as color pigment such as red is added the ink becomes more transparent. The look is more subtle than a foil stamp.

Large Ink Area with Small Type Reversing Out

In modern letterpress application, clients want to see impression. As a general rule, reversing small type out of a larger graphic is not the best use of letterpress. The type is not getting “impressed” – the graphic around the type is. So, if you are looking for letterpress impression with your text, don’t reverse out of a field of color. Note how the small information text and the logo on the black side of the card have more visible impression than the logo inside the spatter mark.

An additional challenge with a large area of ink coverage becomes holding onto small detail within the graphic and running the ink heavy enough for good dense coverage.  On this card, the raw and heavy ink was desirable, the look is a like a heavy paint on chipboard. You can see how the heavy ink begins to “squeeze” a bit on both the logo and the information type. Sometime to get crisp type we can run a large graphic separate from small text even though they may be the same ink color. This allows us to run a heavier film of ink for the graphic and get solid coverage, then run a lighter film of ink for the text and get crisp type.  However, that does mean an additional set up and press run.

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Conor Lawrence – Rhino Stationery

What could be better than a letterpressed rhino ready to charge? One with wings? Ok, here it is.

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This is a two color letterpress stationery set for artist rep Conor Lawrence designed by Aurora Whittet at Red Organic. The printing is red and silver metallic inks on Neenah Classic Crest Solar White. The cards are on a thick, rhino worthy 165lb cover stock.

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Black Paper: White Vs. Silver Inks

Here is an image comparison of “opaque” white ink to silver ink. We did this little letterpress test to illustrate why opaque ink really isn’t opaque.

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Note: The small type in these images is about 4 point serif type.

We offer letterpress services to designers around the country and are constantly asked to print white ink on black paper. You can see above that it does not look crisp and bright like you might expect it to.  The conversation we have with designers goes something like this:

-  Can I have white ink printed on my black paper?

Yes, but it will not be opaque like you might expect.

-  What will it look like?

Sort of whitish blue and blotchy and with a bit of ink squeeze on the edges.

-  Oh, why doesn’t it just print white?

Opaque white ink for letterpress and offset printing is actually not very opaque.

-  Why is there ink squeeze?

A thicker film of ink must be run on press to achieve any sort of opacity. When the ink is run thick on letterpress, you get ink squeezing out at the edge of the artwork.

-  Can you do anything to get it to print up better?

We can run the paper through twice. The first pass is run with almost no ink and heavy impression. The second pass is run with heavy ink and just a kiss impression. This allows the white ink to sit right on the surface of the paper. It is not a very nice bright white, more of a blueish white.

-  Does twice through the press mean I’ll pay more?

Of course.

-  What do you recommend?

Print a metallic ink. Unlike opaque white ink, metallic ink is actually opaque. One hit of metallic ink can get good coverage on dark colored stock. A double pass of the metallic ink can even offer a nice sheen.

-  How about yellow or pink, will that work on black paper?

Nope, this goes for all inks of a lighter color printing on darker colored stock. The stock affects the color of the ink. Colors printing on dark colored papers will not be opaque.

-  How can I know what my ink color will look like printed on a colored paper.

We recommend using the “multiple” filter in Adobe Illustrator. It isn’t a perfect match but does give a good approximation.

-  Is there another printing method that can print opaque white?

Silkscreen Printing – but small details can suffer.

Foil Stamping – but small details can suffer.

Engraving – but the size and nature of the artwork is limited. And the cost is $$$.

-  Can you engrave it for me?

We do only letterpress printing services and some small foil stamping work. We do not do engraving. We partner with another vendor for engraving services when there is engraving combined with letterpress printing.

-  Hmm, maybe metallic ink will work for me…

Great, we are glad you understand!