We were excited to produce this booklet, designed and illustrated in-house at Target by Aaron Melander. This piece was created for guests of the Target Chalet as a field guide to the 2011 Winter X Games.
To begin the project, we worked closely on the paper selection. It needed to be thick and sturdy in feel yet thin enough to do some 180 degree folds to form the inside cover pocket. For the cover we duplexed two stocks after printing – off white on the outside and brown on the inside. The outside is 78lbC Canaletto Granna Grossa printed in tight register three color letterpress. A tonal pattern printed on French Poptone Hot Fudge 80lbC floods the inside.
One of our favorite commercial shops in town then helped with the interior printing and bindery. The gutt was traditional 4 color offset printed and saddle stitched at Shapco. Since the open edges of the cover are folded to the interior a final trim with the gutt in place was not possible. That meant the gutt pages needed to be stitched separately, trimmed to size, then stitched again into the cover.
Space 150 is a Minneapolis based company that has made some waves in the creative community by reinventing its identity every 150 days. This version was designed by Evan Nagan. We’ve produced many previous Space 150 business card versions as well – see some of them here and here.
Like the previous versions we’ve printed, these business cards take some tricky production. They are printed three color offset on one side (flood of black, purple and blue) and 2 color letterpress printed on the reverse (blue and tonal white). They have a unique two color gradient treatment on their edges. The paper is Wausau Royal complements 100lb Bright White which is custom duplexed after offset printing to a final thickness of 200lb cover. For a great edge color effect we recommend a thickness of 160lb or greater. The thicker the better.
It’s a big task! Each identity version is cards for nearly 70 people…
We just got these suckers back from Ideal Printers over in St. Paul- designed by SOF and offset printed (feasibility and cost issues made it much more reasonable for offset) for The College of Visual Arts– in St. Paul as well.
In order to make the colors on this guy pop as hard as possible we swapped out the standard CMY inks with their florescent equivalent. The actual design process was one of the funnest yet- we took various wood type and ran scrap paper through a little tabletop proofing press and immediately sprayed with our press wash-up solvent and then isopropyl alcohol to make interesting splatters / streaks / clouds / etc. The solvent and the alcohol has the same effect when mixed as gas and water.
As the name would imply, a stylist has to have style. This morsel was designed by Westwerk Design and was just featured in the Minnesota AIGA award show. And check out Lara’s site for some really succulent looking food photography.
The letterpress printing is tasty too. The card was printed four colors on the front and a single color on the back. However, we washed up the press four times and did all four single colors on the back as well That gives a nice variety to the presentation of the card on table display on photo shoot sets and studio events.
A heavy ink flood is not the greatest application of letterpress – there is no impression to the information side of this card. We even held on to the tiny 5 point type reversing from a solid. And yes, that many color changes certainly adds up cost. But hey – this job hand eight wash ups!
There is a practical reason to do this kind of solid on a letterpress if you are happy with the more mottled (salty looking) and varied way a letterpress lays this much ink. The reason is stock thickness. Offset printing, which is the best process for printing solids, is usually limited by the thickness of paper for smaller press sheets. To run a thick stock (these are 165lb Neenah) on an offset press gets expensive because you usually need to hire a larger size offset press to handle the stock thickness and have a big press sheet. That just doesn’t make sense for a short run business card project. And most smaller offset presses which could less cost just can not take the stock thickness rattling through the press – if they can get paper to feed through at all. Putting the card stock on a letterpress makes paper feeding possible for a short run job. Offset printing – eat me.
This well crafted card was designed at VO2 Media in Minneapolis for Murphy & Co. Design, designers of exceptional residences. But don’t let the simple look of this business card fool you. It’s design subtlety has layers of complexity in production. Here’s how:
The impression is not very deep and the paper is not overly thick. It is Neenah Classic Crest Avon Brilliant White 130C. The design on the front side has a subtle vignette effect around the edges which is printed offset (flat). If you look at the close up detail carefully you can see a soft line screen very light gray in color over the tone of the paper. The information on the card is printed in three letterpress colors – light gray, dark gray and a deep red. We matched the deep red letterpress ink to the offset printed ink on the back of the card.
The design on the back of the card requires offset printing plus an overall varnish to help seal the flood of ink. (When a flood of ink is printed on uncoated paper, darker colors and especially reds can have a tendency to rub of the surface of the paper. Sealing the sheet with a varnish or aqueous coating helps mitigate this ink transfer.)
Producing a card like this is not quick, which leads to a note about expense and quantity. This piece of paper required three passes through our letterpresses and two passes through an offset press, then a final trim of the press sheets. That is labor intensive with a separate set up, wash up and press run for each color. In an age of digital printing where you can pay by the number of copies, there is a misconception that a lower quantity will make a big difference in price for letterpress. In fact, a production quantity of 100 business cards or 1000 business cards really does not make a big difference in the cost of a job with these kind of production specs. Pricing for custom work all depends on how complex your production specifications are. We advise that the more complexity in your project, the more it will cost. A one color card letterpress card can be cost effective. But like anything well crafted, five times through the presses most certainly costs more.
Since letterpress doesn’t do a great job flooding a page with ink, designers must come up with production alternatives to bring in big areas of color. One of the things that can be done when designing for letterpress is combining different colored paper stocks. This works especially well for projects with multiple pieces that need to coordinate – like stationery systems, wedding invitations, etc. Our previous post on the Ocean House system shows a splash of color added to the back of everything via offset printing. Adding a contrasting paper stock for pieces like envelopes and cards can be a more cost effective production solution to still add color to letterpress and avoid offset (or “flat” printing as people call it when comparing to letterpress) This system designed over at Space150 by Jason Strong brings color to the system by adding a couple contrasting papers. We printed the same letterpress ink color on the white stock and then the burgundy colored stock for the envelopes. This creates a tone-on-tone effect that remains legible and adds a nice texture. A smaller note card in a pink stock also matches the pink ink used throughout the pieces. The business cards are on thick 220lb Crane Lettra, which does an excellent job eliminating the impression show through of a two sided card.
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.