When a design firm gets all the details right, it’s a beautiful thing to print. These business papers for Dohmen were designed by GS design in Milwaukee, and the details are tight. We just finished printing them and thought it was a design well suited for letterpress. The radial dots under heavy impression create a tactile logo, the custom converted rounded envelope flaps echo the logo shape and the edge coloring is a perfect accent on the business cards and folding note card. The business cards are Neenah Classic Crest Solar White 165lb Cover. They are 2 color letterpress printed with edges colored to match the logo PMS color. Since this was a single sided business card, some impression show through on the back side was not a concern. However, check out the photo of the back side of the business card and you get a visual on what we’d be looking at if there were printing. Printing on both sides with letterpress is possible. Be aware if if deep impression is used, there will be show through from side to side, even on thick stock like 165lb Cover. We can pull back on impression and minimize show through for two sided cards. The note cards are Neenah Classic Crest Solar White 130lb C – just a little thinner to help get a nice fold. The letterhead and envelopes are Neenah Classic Crest Solar White 80lb Text. We like the additional weight of an 80lb vs. a 70lb text weight for letterpress printing. It helps everything feel a bit more substantial and does better job with a heavy impression. And the custom converted envelopes are pretty cool – check out the side flaps – they even follow shape of the rounded seal flap. We freak out about stuff like that – nice.
We’ve been asked several time now, “So how come Studio On Fire was not at the National Stationery Show?”
Simply because the lion share of our work as a studio continues to be custom letterpress printing for other designers around the country. We love printing custom work for other designers. We’re good at it and proud of the results. That is what we are focused on and the NSS is not the right venue to promote our services. While we do continue to have a product line, we are promoting it independently, selling to a small number of boutique retailers and museum shops. If you are a retailer and wish to set up a wholesale account, email us and we’ll be happy to send along our catalog.
Here is a sampling of our product from our Designer Series Deskline. We wanted the elements in our product line to feel sort of like a test print or sheet of make ready. Those always have such a wonderful randomness that is enormously difficult to capture intentionally in a layout. This design is Polkaville Party, designed in conjunction with two fine designers here in Minneapolis – Kelly & Kindra, both are currently teaching design over at MCAD.
There is monarch sized stationery with two letterhead designs included, a pinhole perforated dry gum label sheet, folding self mailers, stitched mini journals and a punch out tag and calling card set. All is printed with three color letterpress on cotton and recycled papers. The overprinting creates some sweet purple and greens throughout the prints. Product is for sale on our web site. We are currently offering free shipping within the United States.
You know what they say about too much letterpress – you’ll eventually go blind. That is exactly what happened to our design friends at Spunk Design Machine. They created this stationery system for Ensemble with a beautiful and subtle pattern that we letterpress printed blind (a plate striking the paper with no ink). Imagine, a design for a financial company that is both fun and elegant. Which makes sense for Ensemble because they cater specifically to creatives running small businesses by managing benefits and financial operations. For the letterhead, the blind pattern runs on the text weight sheet along the top edge of the paper. That pattern also prints in color on the back of the No.10 note card (a flat card sized for a No. 10 envelope). A pattern like this is a great way to get some color into a letterpress print job without running a big solid color block. Since this card and the business cards are on the same paper and print the same color, we can run them together. We run a lot of jobs with a this card and a business card on the same press sheet. That gives the client way more bang for their print dollars.
Our good friends at Mucca Design in NYC designed this beauty. A tight piece of typography with a punch of color to bring everything to life makes this system sweet.
The large color flood on the back of everything is offset printed. Then we printed two color letterpress. The paper is Monadnock PC100 throughout which gives a nice warmness and a little texture.
We love involved custom production projects with other design firms – especially identity systems. The refined work of designer Laurie DeMartino exemplifies the level of production we strive for in our letterpress shop. A keen eye for detailed type and color makes her design work striking. In fact, we believe she has a sixth sense related to finessing details. We worked with her to produce this identity system by matching her attention to detail on press. Some noteworthy things about this system: We partnered with another vendor to produce the offset floods of color on the letterhead and envelopes. Those big fields of color are next to impossible to hold consistent on letterpress. We can do larger areas of color (we did it on the note card and business card) but there is more variation in letterpress printing than in offset. When that variation is desirable we will print a flood of color on certain stocks. When it is not desirable, we recommend combining letterpress with offset. (Yes, that adds cost.) It is worth noting that we can print a large press sheet and often work in tandem with commercial offset printing. Business Cards are 5 PMS /1 PMS. We matched the ink printed offset with our letterpress ink. All the type and small graphics are letterpress printed. Light colored type is a heavy impression with custom mixed varnish. You can see in the letterhead detail and business card detail the show through on the reverse of the sheet. The envelope is custom converted and has a perforation line across the flap.
When Becky Rosenthal was launching her wedding photography business she asked us to both design and letterpress print her identity system. So many wedding invites are letterpressed, why not appeal to brides with the same tactility?
Here’s a couple design considerations for letterpress:
One of the things we like about letterpress is what happens to the white areas within a design. You can see in the logo below how the interior white spaces have a raised effect because the area around them is being pressed down. Creating those white spaces within a solid area is one of the things we try to include in our design work to show some dimension.
Another thing that works well in letterpress design is the inclusion of pattern. Rather than using large solid areas of color (which definitely are not well suited for letterpress) a flood of pattern adds both color and a texture that can be felt.
The design team at Imagehaus created a delightful system for Amma Maternity. We printed a simple two color letterpress system with an egg shape die cut for the cards. We ran the solid ink for the business cards on our Heidelberg cylinder press to achieve the pressure and the ink coverage required to print this area. First we printed the chicken, then the egg. Or was it the other way round?