Tag Archive for 'Letterpress'

Page 2 of 20

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

2013 Studio On Fire Letterpress Calendar

Rolling into our store just in the nick of time for Christmas (so would that be in the Saint Nick of time?) is our annual Studio On Fire Letterpress Calendar.

Each year our studio picks a theme, a color palette, and paper stocks before recruiting crush-worthy illustrators to join us in creating custom art for each month. We claimed the January and July pages for ourselves before inviting Brian Gunderson, the Jolby dudes, John MaltaSasha Prood, and Karolin Schnoor to round out our cast of contributors for 2013.

Artists were given the theme of Lucky Number 13 and asked to interpret it at will, resulting in a multitude of superstitious icons and ironic illustrations. We designed the tri fold outer wrap by stealing bits and pieces from the monthly illustrations, collaging them in a long strip to be trimmed off the press sheet and later used for packaging.

The calendar pages and outer wrap were letterpress printed with four inks all together on a large 26 x 20 size press sheet of Mohawk Milkweed 160C. After printing the individual months were trimmed down to a finished size of  3.25 x 5 inches.

To make the stand we first duplexed  Mohawk Via Vellum Safety Yellow 80C to Decorated Paper Brilliance 12pt Tinsel Holographic to create a thick custom stock. After imprinting the stands with a tonal letterpress varnish they were custom diecut and hand assembled with the holographic stock on the inside (allowing a hint of holographic stock to peek out when the support of the stand is kicked out on your desk).

As a special bonus we are offering free DOMESTIC USA shipping on the 2013 calendars thru December 16. Enter coupon code FREESHIP (all caps, one word) in your cart.

If you’re curious, previous years can be viewed on our site: 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008.

Fame Speakeasy Invitations

The fine folks over at Fame Retail hold an annual open house for industry friends and clients, building the theme around the booze and munchies they plan on serving each year (you may remember these bingo cards and these fair themed beauties). This year, with a nod to 1920’s prohibition, their team created a speakeasy theme across a set of cards that included mustachioed gents, pin-curled ladies, icons of delicate linework, and plenty of liquor lingo.

The card set was comprised of two stocks, Neenah Classic Crest Solar White 110C and Wausau Royal Compelments Eclipse Black 100c. The white cards were letterpress printed with a blind (inkless) impression before we ran them through the press for a pass of  black ink. Silver ink and a tonal letterpress varnish were used on the black cards.

To top it all off, these invites just won PaperSpecs Gallery’s Take Note Award. Be sure to check out the nice video posted on the PaperSpecs blog.

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 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.

Beautifully Patterned Business Cards

These beautifully patterned, slightly oversized, cards for Julie Dasher Rugs were created by Minneapolis designer Laurie DeMartino. With a common brown and yellow footer on each card, each rug inspired pattern features a different color from Julie’s brand identity. The reverse of each card shares a common pattern with the front, but is printed using a tonal varnish, allowing the contact information along the bottom to spring forward as the focal point. Letterpress printed on French Poptone Whipped Cream 140C, custom duplexed after printing to make 280C.

A Collection of Radii

Designed for the ARTCRANK MSP 2012 show, our newest poster is an ode to all the radial objects in our life. With a bicycle wheel at the hub of the design, a hindu goddess, a space station and even a nipple made it on to the final print (not to be confused with the aureole that also appears, but we digress).

These were printed on one of our six Heidelberg cylinder presses (insert bragging here) on Crane Lettra Flo White 110c stock with one ink. Every print also got a blind hit of our studio seal, which required a second inkless run through the press.

Yes, you can buy one in our store.


Thinner, yet sculptural.

A new product we’ve been asking for (for several years) has finally arrived. Crane Lettra is now available as a 90lb cover stock that is thick, but not so thick, and good for duplexing.

Being the paper nerds that we are, we busted out our calipers to compare the thickness of duplexed Lettra stocks. Our 220lb Lettra stock calipers at .039″ (40pt) and the new 180lb cover stock calipers at .031″ (30pt), roughly a 25% reduction. Available in fluorescent white, pearl white and ecru, we’ve added this to our list of preferred house stocks.

Our first project to hit press with this new stock was for director Nathaniel Freeman. Letterpress printed with a navy ink and a custom varnish, the 90lb pearl white stock was duplexed after printing–concealing the impression show through in the center of the card. The finished product features a nice sculptural impression, but with slightly less bulk to the card.

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.

Linotype: The Film

We are proud to be teaming up with AIGA Minnesota and the University of St. Thomas to bring a screening of Linotype: The Film to the Twin Cities. April 13th, 7pm, St. Thomas campus. Be there. Details available over on the AIGA MN website. “Linotype: The Film” Official Trailer from Linotype: The Film on Vimeo.

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.


Brooklyn Wedding Invitations

This wedding suite, designed by the bride and groom, shows that you can have playful invitations while keeping the aesthetic classy. The main invitation was mailed with an accompanying information card–cleverly designed with a perforation line, allowing the attached RSVP card to be removed and returned. With many brides shying away from complicated wedding systems, it’s a practical way cut down on the number of pieces recipients will pull out of the envelope. Additional tags and cards printed on the same press sheet were used at the actual event

Printed with two inks, antique brown and a bright zip of yellow, on Crane Lettra Pearl White 110C (one of our house stocks).
Additional photography courtesy of Oh, Darling! Photography.

Pivot Interiors Calendar

Using the format we designed for our Studio On Fire calendars, the marketing team over at Pivot Interiors designed this 2012 calendar in celebration of their expansion into southern California. Created as a tribute to California architecture, this was used as a gift for their clients and was a great way for them to showcase their ties to the architectural and design communities. The beautifully detailed illustrations required us to keep a critical eye on the registration while on press and we’re thrilled with how tight the prints came out.

The interior pages and outer wrap were printed  together on one press sheet using four inks on Mohawk Via Vellum Bright White 100C. The stand was printed with one ink on a custom duplexed paper made of Mohawk Via Vellum Bright Wht 100C and Mohawk Loop Vellum Thai Gold 100C before being diecut and hand assembled.