Space 150 – Letterpress Card Retrospective

It started back in high school art class. I was a junior and there was this senior that sat in the back doing pottery and was always throwing frickin’ balls of clay at my head while I was trying to draw. Fast forward over a decade and both of us have design careers. Me – running my design/letterpress studio and he (Jason Strong, or Bone as some people call him) is a design director over at Space150. He called me up and invited me to be a guest designer on a Space150 identity system version.

Now what you must understand about Space150 is that they redo their entire identity every 150 days. The WHOLE thing – business papers, website, mission statement, etc.

Our studio gladly accepted the assignment to design version 16 with letterpress printing for the full system. Version 16 was such a success that we were invited back to create and letterpress print version 17 as well. They moved off of letterpress for version 18 and almost had a mutiny because everyone became attached to their letterpress business cards. And believe me those new media folks really know how to throw down a mutiny. So version 19, 20, 21 and the current version 22 are all produced by Studio On Fire with letterpress printing, laser cutting, etc. Space 150 has designed 19-22 in house with their own killer designers, Ned Wright and Dan Jenstad.

It is our hope that this set of business cards represents a very different sort of letterpress printing and approach to commercial production. Studio On Fire is not tied to the historical visual baggage of letterpress. We try to take a little vintage and a little modern and mix it together with mad production skills. In the end, these cards land in peoples hand with a sense of wonder – and that is what good design and production is all about. Enjoy…

Please contact us for your next challenging print project. We thrive on working with other creatives to produce award winning design.

Oh, and Jason, just you wait. I’ve got some clay balls saved up for next time we meet. Unless we can settle this like gentleman?

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  • I’m in love with version 20. Do you guys print only PMS? Or do you CMYK too?

  • Letterpress only prints one spot color at a time. It would be possible and expensive to print CMYK with letterpress. Version 20 a combination of letterpress and offset. We did a blind hit in register on top of the offset printing and letterpress printing on the info side. We do not print CMYK offset in house.

  • This is one hell of an idea, to redesign the whole brand every 150 days. What do you do with all of the unused stationery?

  • It is a hell of an idea! Tradition says that a strong brand has consistency and strengthens over time. While this model rejects both of those branding ideals, I do believe it offers several other opportunities for them. It certainly would not work for most companies, but these guys have pulled it off for nine years now. Constantly refining their mission, rallying staff and creating an allure very different from other agencies.

    The stationery is printed in small batches, so there is not a lot of waste. Only about 50 cards per person.

  • Can you tell my printing knowledge is limited? :P lol!

  • mister Ben + cohorts,

    beyond late on this, but not for hijinks. thanks for showcasing space150 and for explaining the ceramic rivalry we have. next time i’m down we’ll talk. if things get heated, you may see me reach into my back pocket for some “backup”. beware the clay!