Stationery Business: Tips For Getting Quotes

Stationery Business: Tips For Getting Quotes | Sycamore

Once you’ve found a list of suppliers and manufacturers to look into, you’ll want to start asking for quotes. I’ll be honest, it’s quite a tedious process, but it’s just necessary. If you do it well, it can really help your business!

MY TIPS FOR GETTING QUOTES:

  • When you’re starting out with smaller quantities, you may not need a custom quote. If you’re ordering lower quantities of envelopes, for example, you might just order directly from a website. Of if you only need 50 promotional postcards or flyers printed, you may be able to get an automatic quote by just plugging in your information on the manufacturer’s website.
  • Get multiple quotes. Don’t make the mistake of going with the first quote you get! Get at least 3. The more the better, although you do of course have to stop at some point.
  • Ask for a quote in writing. I do think it’s often a good idea to call first (before you ask for a quote) to get a general idea of what they can offer you and how they might be to work with. But when it comes to the actual quote, I recommend emailing it in so that it’s clearly written out.
  • Be clear and concise. Don’t write it all in one big paragraph where details tend to get lost. Instead, make bullet points or even a chart.
  • Don’t forget the details. You have to list out every little detail in your quote requests. For example, with printing, you should specify
    • Quantities: It’s common to ask for a few different quantities, to see the price breakdown. For example, 250, 500, and 1000.
    • Size: both the size of the paper you will print on (press sheet) and size of finished product.
    • Colors: How many, for methods other than digital.
    • Paper Stock: Will you provide it or will they? If they will, do you know which kind you want them to get? If not, you should at least know the weight and paper type. 60lb text? 120 lb cover? Coated? Uncoated? Matte?
    • Other finishes required after printing: Trimming, die cutting (cutting into a non-rectangular or square shape), scoring, folding, etc…
    • Delivery: Will the items need to be shipped? If local, will you pick them up or do you want them to deliver?
    • Turnaround Time: How long will it take them to finish the job?
    • Proofs/Press Checks: What kind would you like? Is a digital PDF proof over email enough? Do you prefer a high res proof? Would you like to be present at the printshop for press check?
  • Follow up. As we all know, it’s a busy world, and sometimes email doesn’t get answered. Don’t be afraid to follow up and be persistent to get the quotes you need.
  • Ask for revisions, if necessary. It’s not uncommon for there to be errors in the quotes you receive. Maybe they quoted the wrong paper or the wrong quantities. If you write a very organized and detailed quote request, that will help cut down on some error, but it’s still pretty common to find errors. Just let them know, and politely ask for a revised quote. Again, don’t be afraid to follow up.
  • Don’t be afraid to negotiate. If you know you’d like to work with a certain manufacturer or supplier but their prices are a bit high, don’t be afraid to ask if they have any wiggle room or if they can match a lower priced quote from a competitor.

 

You can learn more about the stationery business by taking my online courses on atly.com: Stationery Business 100: Start Strong and Stationery Business 200: Wholesale. Thanks! – Eva

You might also like: Inventory Resources & Tips, Tips For Finding Stationery Suppliers & Manufacturers, & Tips For Sending Mailers.

Due to popular demand, we’re working on a brand new class called Shop Biz 100: Online, Pop-Ups + Bricks and Mortar. To stay in the loop, sign up for our Creative Business newsletter here.

National Stationery Show FAQ, Part 1

National Stationery Show FAQ with letterpress printed arrows in background

Editor’s Note: For those of you wanting to create your own paper goods company, I’m now teaching an online course called Stationery Business 101: Starting Strong

The National Stationery Show FAQ, Part 1

Trade shows can be overwhelming. The first time Kirk and I took Sycamore Street Press to the National Stationery Show, I’d only been out of school for a year and a half, and Kirk was actually still in school! We had little retail experience, little wholesale experience, and very little business experience period. And somehow we survived. Not only that, but we did well enough to consider it worth our while to return the following year.

Now we’re old pros (ha ha) and we’re coming up on our fifth time exhibiting at the NSS. A few of my paper peeps have been asking me for advice about the show, so I thought I’d post them here for everyone’s benefit. If any of you have something to add, please chime in down below! These are just my opinions — I’m sure there are many ways of doing things. If there’s something you’re curious about that I haven’t covered, let me know. I’ll be doing a part 2 soon! – Eva

Q: How much is it going to cost me to do the show?

A: This number can vary wildly! You will need to do a lot of research to see how much you can afford and how you will budget everything. But a good rule of thumb for a small company exhibiting in a single 10 x 10 foot booth is to plan on spending around $10,000. This includes the booth, electrical, displays, catalogs, travel, etc… everything related to doing the show. It does NOT include the product itself. Like I said, though, this can vary quite a bit. Our first year, we were able to drive to the show, and take all of our products and display in our car (instead of having to ship it with a freight company). We also stayed with friends instead of getting a hotel room… so we probably did it for about $5000 that year.

6 more Q&A’s to help you figure out the National Stationery Show after the jump! Read More…

Top 5 Legal Concerns for Small Creative Businesses

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How do I protect my company name? What kind of business structure should I have? Do I really need contracts? So many questions like that have run through my head since I started Sycamore Street Press. It’s easy to get overwhelmed and just ignore them. But we all know that’s not a good idea, so enter Ben Pollock of the Juniper Law Firm. Yes, he is my younger brother… which means that I am very lucky. Because he is also a whip smart attorney who understands the ins and outs of small creative businesses. He generously agreed to write this post for our blog. He also contributes to the Design*Sponge Biz Ladies series and writes his own blog, if you’d like to read more. – Eva

If you’re like a lot of small businesses, hiring a business attorney is not very high on your priority list. In fact, it may not even be on your list at all for any one of a number of reasons. So let’s take a look at the top 5 legal concerns for small creative businesses, and then we’ll decide whether it might be a good idea to make a new lawyer friend.

1) Business Formation – From corporations to limited liability limited partnerships, there are probably more available types of business entities than most people are aware of. When starting your business, it is important to get the entity selection right. And for more than just tax reasons. The entity you choose can effect your available management structures, who can have ownership, your exposure to legal liability, what formal meetings and notices your are required to have regularly, how much it costs to set up, and what records you are required to keep, among other things. Your best bet is to narrow it down to two or three options that fit your needs based on the above non-tax factors, among others. Then, once you’ve narrowed it down, you can pick between those based on tax benefits.

2) Trademarks – Most small businesses, especially creative businesses, understand the importance of having strong branding – from logos to distinctive packaging and everything in-between. It is trademark law that will allow you to protect your branding and prevent others from using branding that is confusingly similar. In addition to your logo, trademark law may protect your packaging and many other aspects of your overall image, including use of colors, as long as they are unique enough to set you apart from your competitors. Protecting your branding will allow you to differentiate yourself from your competitors, thus allowing customers to easily identify you and your products. There are several advantages to registering your trademark, including increased protection of your mark, deterring others from using a mark that is confusingly similar to yours, and the availability of greater remedies if your mark is infringed.

3) Copyrights – Copyright law is what will protect the creative, as opposed to the functional, aspects of your products. Creative businesses succeed by producing unique products that customers cannot find elsewhere. And if this “advantage” were to be taken away, many businesses would likely fail.

In the online context, there are remedies offered through the Digital Millennium Copyright Act that will allow you to request that internet providers and others take down infringing material, even if you haven’t registered your copyright. But it is often difficult to prove your ownership of the material you want taken off the web without having registered your copyright beforehand. And if the copyright infringement does not happen on the internet, or if the internet service provider and others refuse to take action because they are unconvinced of your ownership, your only option is a traditional lawsuit. And you cannot sue without first registering your copyright. The advantages of registering your copyright before it is infringed are increased remedies, including the ability to recover all your court costs and attorney fees. This makes it much easier, and affordable, to protect your copyright than if you were to register it only after it is infringed.

4) Social Media Policies – More and more, social media is becoming an essential part of a small business’s marketing plans. And more and more, employees are not only participating in social media, but are often speaking about their employers or their employer’s customers on social media. A social media policy will allow you to have greater control over how your business is represented, or not represented, by your employees. There are, of course, strict limits on how much you can control your employees’ use of social media, but a little guidance can go a long way in making sure your business is portrayed well online.

5) Contracts – “Oh, we’ve been friends forever.” “This isn’t the first time we’ve done business together.” “We trust each other.” These are all common excuses for small business owners not to have a contract in the context of a business relationship. But what they don’t understand is that having a contract is NOT the equivalent of saying, “I know we’re friends, but I don’t trust you.” What it is actually saying is, “We are friends, and I want to protect our friendship from any unforeseen circumstance in the future.” When two people or businesses sit down and come to an agreement in the very beginning about how to handle a difficult situation in the future, it ensures that everyone feels they are treated fairly if such a situation arises. If an agreement is not put in writing beforehand, and a difficult situation arises, emotions will run high, people won’t be able to come to an agreement about how to handle it, and no one will feel like they’ve been treated fairly when it is all over.

I hope this small outline of common legal concerns for small creative businesses has shown you the importance of these few legal issues. I suggest you find a friendly attorney who has experience in these areas and form a close relationship so that you have somewhere to turn for guidance. And if you are not sure how to find an attorney, check out this post on my blog for some tips. – Ben

Disclaimer: This article is not intended as, and should not be understood to be legal advice. The topics above were covered in a general and informative fashion, but they are not tailored to your, or anyone else’s particular circumstances. If you would like to discuss these topics as they apply to your business, please feel free to contact me via my website, or any other attorney who practices in these areas.

Learn more on my Stationery Business classes on atly.com.

Valentine’s Day All Things Beautiful

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At Sycamore Street Press, we are seekers of all things beautiful. Annie Steward, our delightful intern-turned-contributor, curated this collection. 

1. How can you say no to this Valentine’s Day banner?

2. These Knot & Bow stickers are the perfect finishing touch for my valentines.

3. Love the copper foil detail of the tiny hearts on this card of ours.

4. This sweet and simple Venessa Arizaga bracelet says it all.

5. Foiled dot napkins? Yes, please.

6. These Geronimo heart balloons are my newest obsession!

7. I’ll take this colorful flower arrangement over a bouquet of red roses any day (hint, hint).

– Annie

 

Top 5 Tools for Small Business Organization

Top 5 Tools for Small Business Organization | by Sycamore Street Press

Behind The Press is a blog series by Sycamore Street Press’s owners: Eva and Kirk Jorgensen. In it, we share our experience with letterpress, paper goods, running a small business, and work/life balance in the form of tips, how to’s, and more. We hope you enjoy! – K&E

Admittedly, we are not always the most organized people. We try to be. We LOVE having everything in its place. Sometimes it seems like there’s just not enough time in the day, though. And then we think about how much time we’d be saving in the long run if we could just put things in order. It’s a catch-22.

Well, this past year we decided that was it. Time to make some real progress.  And it’s incredible how making a few small changes has really helped things run more smoothly! We still have a lot of plans to implement. But we’re happy with how far we’ve come, and are committed to keeping up and getting better.

If you’re a small business owner like we were — never feeling like we had the time to get organized — we hope this post can help you out. (And no, we are not getting paid for this post. We just use these organizing tools every day and love them!)

1) Google Drive – We used to trade long emails back and forth with the rest of the Sycamore team. Photo shoot plans, design brainstorming, production schedules, etc… Inevitably, we’d have to search through mountains of emails to try and find the one with the correct attachment for a certain project. Now, at the suggestion of a couple of our team members, we just create the document in Google Drive, share it with each other, and file the documents into folders. So simple. It’s great to be able to find all of that information in one place, that we can access it all from any computer or device, and that they won’t be lost if a computer crashes.

2) Google Calendar – Even if the only thing we had to do all year was to plan for and exhibit at our annual trade show — The National Stationery Show — this app would be worth it. We’re big fans of paper (obviously) and both love our little Moleskine planners. But they just weren’t cutting it anymore for the business. We needed a calendar that could be updated frequently (without an eraser or White Out) and that everyone on the Sycamore team could access. We got a lot of suggestions from colleagues, but when it came down to it, Google Calendar is free, simple to use, and it gets the job done. We plan months in advance and have a color coded system set up. (Production tasks in cobalt, events in yellow, PR in coral, etc…)

3) Dropbox – When our daughter Ingrid was 6 months old, our computer crashed. Inconvenient, but not a big deal, we thought at first. We had Time Machine set to automatically back up everything on our computer to an external hard drive. Well, it turns out that there was a disconnect between iPhoto and Time Machine. So we lost pretty much all of our photos. From the first 6 months of our daughter Ingrid’s life, and from the 6 years prior to that — ever since we got our first digital camera. We were devastated. (There may have been a crying fit ending with someone flinging themselves across the bed with a loud, slobbery moan. Not saying who.) Luckily, we was able to retrieve a few off of an old laptop and discs. But literally, it was just a handful compared to the thousands that we lost.

Obviously, this couldn’t happen again. Enter Dropbox. We signed up, downloaded the software, and began backing up all our photos. We love that we can access it easily on our computer’s hard drive itself, or from the “cloud” on the dropbox website from any computer or device. We’ve since started using it to back up all of our product photos, design files, etc… It’s also great for sharing files — high res photos with members of the press, Illustrator files with manufacturers, scans of drawings with other members of the Sycamore team, and more.

4) Quickbooks – We can’t tell you how many creative small business owners we’ve talked to who confess that the bookkeeping for their business is pretty much non-existent. And yes, we made the same mistake. Every year, we’d sit down with print-outs of our bank statements, categorize everything with highlighters, and then send it all in one big Excel spreadsheet to our accountant. He’d get it sorted out and make sure we were legit with our taxes, but that was it. No profit and loss statements, no monthly reports, nothing. Organizing our business finances was always a big dark cloud looming over our heads. Something we knew we needed to do to really grow our business, but dreaded with our very souls.

As of a couple of months ago, though, we are leaving that big dark cloud behind! And it feels sooooooo good. To get started, we sat down a couple of different times with our accountant to ask his advice. Then we bought Quickbooks, set it up on our computer, and hired someone to do bookkeeping part-time, along with other office duties. Let’s face it, the two of us were never going to be organized enough to do it ourselves. We figured that in the long run, it was worth the expense of hiring someone. By being able to see regular reports, we can start to see so much more clearly where the money is coming from and where it is going. It’ll make a big difference in our business planning, and will be a key to helping us grow.

If you don’t want to hire someone in-house to do this, you could have your accountant do it for you, or hire an independent bookkeeper. Or, you could show us up and do it yourself.

5) FreshBooks – It took a few tries to find an invoicing system that clicked. We signed up for Freshbooks over a year ago and have loved it for many reasons. It’s all cloud based, which makes it easy to manage orders while traveling with our laptop/iphone as well as accessing our account from multiple computers in our shop. It is simple and convenient. We have linked up our merchant account so that when a wholesale client receives the email from Freshbooks, they can view/download their invoice as well as pay their invoice by credit card. The other feature we really like is the report generator. We can easily generate reports showing total revenue by client or item number in any given parameter of time.

Obviously, there are many different tools and programs out there that can help small business owners get organized. But these are our favorites — the ones that have really helped us.We hope that one or all may be of some help to you, too! And if you have some tips or tools of your own to share, we’d love to hear in the comments below! Also check out my Stationery Business classes on atly.com. – Kirk & Eva

The three images in this post are sneak peeks of Sycamore Street Press’s new gift wrap  and fox card collections debuting this spring!  See all of our other paper goods in our shop

Behind the Press | Tips on Taking Time Off for the Self-Employed

Vacations For The Self Employed | Sycamore Street Press Blog | Photos by Jacinta Moore

Behind The Press is a blog series by SSP’s owners: Eva and Kirk Jorgensen. In it, we share our experience with letterpress, paper goods, running a small business, and work/life balance in the form of tips, how to’s, and more. We hope you enjoy! – K&E

The other day, I posted about some of my hits and misses in taking time off since I started Sycamore Street Press. I’m interested to see how other small business owners take to the issue, so I wrote a few of my friends and family members who work for themselves, and asked for their thoughts or tips:

Kris Pollock (my dad), owner of Jupiter Electric, an electrical contracting company in Heber, UT:

So many people can just walk out the door at the end of the day and not have to worry about work until the next morning. Or at the end of their vacation. But you and I and Kirk can’t do that. It’s something that we always have to think about. I lose sleep over work. It’s always with me. Even when I went to Norway, I was on the phone bidding jobs. But I do it for my family, I love my job, and I wouldn’t change what I’m doing, that’s for sure. 

Julie & Matt Walker, owners of Tiger in a Jar, a film production company based in Salt Lake City, UT

1) Since we are pretty exhausted between our shoots we aren’t really up for running across town to hit up a major sight, so instead we try to take walks around the part of town we are in. We often stumble across really amazing bakeries, shops, or landmarks and we love that it is our own little adventure that doesn’t leave us worn out.

2) We try to make travel time like flights, train rides, taxi rides, etc. as productive as we can so that when we get to our destination we have a bit of extra time to explore.

3) Mostly we feel like it boils down to attitude. If we constantly keep our eyes open to appreciating where we are we end up having a wonderful trip, even if we do end up behind the camera most of the time.

Brittany Watson Jepsen, stylist, designer, crafter, and founder of the House That Lars Built, a design and lifestyle blog from Copenhagen (soon to be Provo, UT):

I don’t think I ever take a real “vacation” where I’m not doing at least some type of “work”, whether that be checking emails or taking pictures for the blog or thinking about a blog post. I think it’s a part of the job of a freelancer because social media is like interest: it never sleeps. There’s always something going on that you need to be aware of. That said, the beauty of being a freelancer in that I can plan my own schedule, but it’s also the downfall because there’s always something to do. I think the best advice I can offer is to plan ahead so that you can schedule your work around the specific time period. Make sure your clients know your schedule and stick with it.

Erin Austin Abbot, owner of Amelia, an brick and mortar (and online) shop in Oxford, MS:

When I decided to open up my brick and mortar, I knew I wouldn’t have anyone giving me days off anymore. It was going to be up to myself to find the balance of work and knowing when to slow down and take much needed time off. Closing means a loss of sales, but without rest, what good are you? So, from the beginning, I established that I would be closed two weeks after Christmas and two weeks in the middle of the summer. My customers know that the online store is up and running then so they can still shop and I’m able to relax and focus on my family. And maybe even get out of town for a real vacation.

Leland Rowley, owner of Rowley Press, a letterpress studio in Provo, UT:

Vacation? Huh? I think for me a lot of the time my vacation comes split up throughout the year. Sleep in one morning, go hiking while all the other suckers are at their 9-5 (of course I will be working till 11pm, but whatever…), or spend a day foraging. The flexibility of schedule on a day-to-day basis is like living everyday on vacation. Well, sort of.  When large blocks of time do arise, I most assuredly end up working. I have to focus on the fact that I may be working, but I am working from Disneyland or wherever. Sometimes I try to just turn off my phone and not check email, but that can be dangerous. Unhappy customers would make for a very unhappy vacation. 

Sarah, owner of Sarah Jane Studios, a children’s lifestyle brand based in Provo, UT:

1) Have very clear expectations with you are traveling with. Is this a family getaway?  A business trip? totally makes a difference. Here’s my 2 cents: 

FAMILY TRIP: set clear expectations with your traveling partners. Have a set time when you will work, allow for ample play time, and make sure that when you are not working, you aren’t thinking about working. My father was self employed for 10 years and he always worked at 5am every morning until 9am when every one else woke. We never knew he was working while on vacation. It meant the world to us as a family. As for me, I’ve tried to do big blitzes where I try and get as much done as I can in a big chunk, and then remain care free the rest of the time. 

2) If you can avoid working, avoid it. Plan blog posts ahead of time, clear your inbox, put a notice in your inbox about when you will return, etc. Being self employed means it’s REALLY hard to disconnect, which means it’s even more important to try and disconnect and just let it all go every once in a while. You’ll be better off for it. 

3) Get inspired. Getting away can revitalize you in ways you weren’t expecting. Be open to new ways of thinking, keep a journal, and enjoy the time you have to take a step away and get inspired. 

Margaret Haas, owner of Paper Pastries, a paper goods company and online boutique in LA, CA

1) Be prepared to go on vacation. Long gone are the days when I could pack up a bag and just take off on a whim. Now that I run a business, I make sure to wrap up all outstanding orders before I leave town. If a project is more involved, figure out a timeline that works for both the client and I.  You won’t be able to relax if you’re wondering “Did I get that rush order out on time?” Be sure!

2) Don’t check your email. I’d recommend putting your email on vacation mode. State the days you’ll be out of the office and that all outstanding orders have been shipped. 

3) Jump right back in. You might feel a bit guilty while you’re supposed to be having fun. To get rid of that feeling, I sometimes have to make a long list of things I’ll do when I get back. Just looking at that list makes me wish I was on vacation-and guess what- I am! Then I put the list away and get back to having fun.  But beware- it’s easy to get used to sleeping in and not checking your email. Pull out that list on your last night of vacation and think of how productive you’ll be when you return. The best motivation for me to get back to work? The more I work now, the faster the time will pass until my next vacation! 

4) Get a massage. If you’re the type of person who likes getting a massage, there’s no better time than while you’re on vacation. Because I work with my hands all day, my back aches and my arms get sore. Last holiday season, during all of the craziness I got a massage. All I did was feel guilty laying on that table- “I should be at work! What am I doing??” While on vacation, it’s the best. Because what else are you supposed to be doing but relaxing? 

Sarah Winward, owner of Honey of a Thousand Flowers, a floral company in Salt Lake City, UT: 

For me the hardest part about taking time off while self employed is…doing it!

I think that it is likely that anyone who works for themselves is driven, and in general, I think we all have a hard time putting the computer away each night (and weekend, and holiday). I’ve found that if I schedule my vacation time really far ahead of time that I just stress about how much work I will be missing on that time off.  I wish I could look forward to it! But for me it seems that when you and you only are in charge of how much work you take on and how much money you make, its hard to just decide to stop working.

So my advice…

Is to just bite the bullet, and give yourself time off.  I have such a hard time scheduling time off for myself, but when I do I always come back refreshed, inspired, and more productive than I was before. My job is much busier in the summer than it is in the winter, so I always have the winter to look forward to for some relaxation.  In the summer I work 19 hour days about 3 days a week, and regular 8 hour days for the other 3-4.  If I don’t take a bit of time mid-summer to escape, I begin to loose my mind, and I lose touch of the fact that I love my job. While I am taking time off I am often out in nature and I fall in love again with wild flowers and trees and all of the things that make me love my job in the first place.

This last one is a quote that I posted on the blog a couple of years back. I still think it’s interesting.

Chris Guillebeau, entrepreneurial writer, from his book the Art of Non-Conformity:

It’s always fun to go on vacation as a self-employed person, because a) you still have to work, and b) no one thinks you do any work to begin with. So then when you go on vacation, they say, oh, must be nice that you don’t have a job and can do that. Meanwhile on vacation I work six hours a day instead of ten. But it’s all good.

Do you have any tips for figuring out this catch-22 or just thoughts about it in general? I’d love to hear!

All Photos by Jacinta Moore. She took them while floating off the coast of Cinque Terra in Italy. Looks so gorgeous and relaxing, doesn’t it? You can purchase affordable prints of these photos and more in her shop Bawk Bawk.

Sycamore Street Press is Now Hiring

JOIN_THE_SYCAMORE-TEAM

We’re growing and we need some help keeping up! Please pass this info along to anyone you think would be qualified and interested. Thanks! – Eva & Kirk

Graphic Designer, Part-Time

Description:

Sycamore Street Press is a busy, nationally recognized and respected letterpress and paper goods company; located in Heber City, UT. SSP is a small business quickly expanding and we are looking for a graphic designer to help us meet our demands.

Candidate should be organized, reliable, friendly, with high attention to detail. Candidate may be a recent graduate or college senior. Looking for a candidate who can work on site 1-2 days a week (M-F), and roughly 8-16 hours a week. Paid hourly BOE. Start Date: January 7, 2013.

Responsibilities:

Include but are not limited to:

+ Preparing design files to go to press

+ Ordering printing plates

+ Onsite press checks (in SLC or Provo)

+ Organizing design files (old and new)

+ Using existing branding to design collateral such as catalogs, line sheets, flyers, graphics for the web, website updates, etc.

+ Blog post layout and design

+ Eventually: Custom Order Project Manager which would include: laying out type for wedding invitations and other custom orders, communicating with customers, getting files press ready, ordering plates, etc.

Requirements:

+ Proficient knowledge of Adobe Creative Suite; especially: Illustrator, Photoshop, and InDesign.

+ Very strong design skills

+ Interest in paper goods, including letterpress

+ Interest in creative online businesses and blogs

+ Ability to meet deadlines

+ Ability to take the initiative

+ Ability to work well with a team

+ Strong customer service skills

+ Ability to work at our studio in Heber City, UT

+ Ability to drive to press checks in Provo and Salt Lake City

+ Commit, after a trial period, to at least one year*

Qualifications:

To be considered please email: eva@sycamorestreetpress.com with ‘GRAPHIC DESIGNER’ in subject line. Please attach your resume and portfolio.

*Note: There will be a 30 day period in which SSP or new graphic designer will have the right to terminate the contract at anytime and for any reason, including if employee or employer determines the fit to be incorrect.

Photo by Candice Stringham

Behind the Press | 8 Tips for Letterpress Design

8 tips for letterpress design by Sycamore Street Press

Behind The Press is a new blog series by SSP’s owners: Eva and Kirk Jorgensen. In it, we’ll be sharing our knowledge of letterpress, paper goods, and running a small business in the form of tips, how to’s, and more… This is no. 2 in the series. (Find no. 1 here.) We’re really excited about this new series and hope you enjoy! – K&E

You love letterpress, right?  You love how it looks — the texture, the vintage appeal. And maybe your wedding is coming up (or you’re having a baby, or starting a new business), and you’ve decided you want to design your own invitations and get them letterpressed. You might know your way around Adobe Illustrator, and have an idea of the look you are going for, but you have no idea what you should keep in mind while designing for this particular printing process. In fact, maybe you don’t even realize you should be keeping anything in mind. Well, now you do.

Many people have approached us over the years who are in exactly this position. Actually, they mostly contact us after the design is already “done” and are upset to learn that they’ll have to start from scratch if they really do want it printed on a letterpress. (Understandably so.)

Like many beautiful things, letterpress is fickle and demanding. You need to design things a certain way in order to get the distinctive inking and impression that it’s known for. With that in mind, we decided to devote this Behind the Press to the basics of letterpress design. Please note that this isn’t meant to be all-inclusive. (This only covers printing from polymer printing plates, for example, not hand set type.) But if you are a beginner to the process, we hope this will help you wrap your head around the idea and get off to a good start.

8 Tips for Letterpress Design

1) See everything in black and white. (No grey.) Yes, you will be able to print it in color, but the artwork that you will be making into a printing plate must be in black and white. You can create the artwork the old fashioned way with black paint or ink on a piece of white paper or you can create it all in Photoshop or Illustrator. Either way, you can’t have any blended gradations. If you want to include shading, think of how artists would create light and dark through cross hatched lines in old engravings (like on a dollar bill) or with dots (like the halftone dots in old newspaper photos).

French bulldog letterpress print by Sycamore Street Press

2) Think in layers. Letterpress (and other traditional printing techniques) aren’t capable of printing all the colors at once. They’re not digital printers. Each color you want to use will have to have its own black and white layer which will be turned into a printing plate. Then, the paper will need to be run through the press separately for each color (layer) you are printing. This is why crop marks are really helpful. It’s also why going from one color to two colors in letterpress almost doubles the amount of printing labor, which means that printing many colors/layers gets expensive FAST. Letterpress designers have to be clever at using very few colors to great effect. For example, you could overlap two transparent colors to create a third color.

I Quite Like You letterpress card by Sycamore Street Press

3) Dark on light. Letterpress ink, as a rule, is pretty transparent. If you try to print a pale color on top of a darker color, it probably won’t show up. (One exception: silver ink on dark paper can work pretty well.)

Being Super Smart letterpress card by Sycamore Street Press

4) Size is limited. Most letterpress printers these days use platen presses (the kind that open and shut like a clamshell) and can’t print an area larger than about 5 x 7″. Some have standard flatbed presses (in which  the paper rolls across the printing plate) and can print up to about 12×18″. That’s usually about as large as you can go. There are a handful of print shops in the country (Hatch Show Print, for example) who still have some larger scale letterpresses and can go quite a bit larger, but they are few and far between.

Baby Makes Three letterpress card by Sycamore Street Press

5) Not too thick. If you want to print large solid areas of color, letterpress is probably not the way to go. (I’d go with screen printing.) It’s extremely difficult to get even pressure and ink over a large surface with letterpress, and if you try, the end result will most often look splotchy. Sometimes this can be the “vintage” and “handmade” look you are going for, though. Just be aware.

Holiday letterpress cards by Sycamore Street Press

6) Not too thin. On the other hand, if the lines or type you are using are too thin, the line can easily get lost and disappear in the platemaking process. Even if it doesn’t, it is extremely difficult to print extra thin lines with the pressure and impression you are probably looking for while maintaining a neat, precise line. Because there is so little surface to cling to, the ink often gets pushed out, creating a messy halo effect.

Valentine letterpress cards by Sycamore Street Press

7) Be consistent. For crisp and even printing, it’s best if all the lines & shapes on a particular color/layer/plate are approximately the same size/thickness. If, for example, you were to have some big blocky type next to some really thin type, either the fat type will look uneven and under inked, or the small type will look messy and over inked. You can try and split the difference, just know that neither extreme will look great this way.

I'd Know It Was Your BIrthday Even Without Facebook letterpress card by SSP

8) Try combining methods. In spite of all its beauty, letterpress does have its limitations. Why not combine it with another method to get the best of both worlds? For example, metallic inks don’t look very shiny in letterpress. (They just have very faint shimmer.) For maximum impact, we’ve been combining letterpress with foil stamping here at Sycamore Street Press and are loving the effect! (In foil stamping, an actual piece of metal foil is stamped right into the paper in the shape of your design.)

Thank You letterpress and gold foil card by Sycamore Street Press

Best of luck with all your design and letterpress endeavors! For further tips and nitty gritty details like file types and sizes, Boxcar Press is a great resource. (They’ve made our plates since we started SSP in 2007.) I’d also recommend having an in-depth conversation with the letterpress printer you plan on using before you start the design process. – Kirk & Eva

A few more links you might like: 7 Tips for Finding a Letterpress, The evolution of a printshop, 5 New Favorites from the National Stationery ShowAlso check out my Stationery Business classes on atly.com.

p.s. These are some of the styled shots that our photographer Zuzanna Audette has taken for us this year. Doesn’t she do a great job?

7 best sources for finding a letterpress

7WaysToFindALetterpress_SycamoreStreetPress

Note: For those of you wanting to create your own paper goods company, I’m now teaching an online course called Stationery Business 101: Starting Strong.

So you’ve taken amassed a large collection of cards, taken some classes, tried out a few different models, and talked to your friend of a friend who works at a printshop. After all that, you’ve decided that you’re ready to take the plunge. You’re ready to purchase a one ton piece of machinery that can turn out the prettiest paper goods you’ve ever seen: aka, a letterpress.

Keep in mind that letterpresses haven’t been manufactured since the 60’s. And since then, many have been turned into scrap or sold to print shops outside of the US. However, in recent years, with the resurgence in popularity of this heirloom craft, the demand for these printing presses has been growing more and more. If you want to find one, you’ve got to be patient, do your research, and when the opportunity arrises, act quickly.

Kirk and I have bought 3 different presses over the years — each from a different source. Many people wanting to start their own print shop have written and asked us for advice on how to find a letterpress, so we thought we’d share our top sources with you.

7 BEST SOURCES FOR FINDING A LETTERPRESS

1) Briar Press – This is the go-to online place for anything and everything letterpress. Get tips and techniques in the forum, go to the classifieds to find classes, jobs, and presses all over the country.

2) Don Black Linecasting – This Toronto-based family operation has been in the business for decades. The presses they sell are clean and in top-top  condition. If you order a press from them, you know it will be in perfect working condition the day it arrives. They also can arrange for crating, shipping and customs. You’ll pay top dollar, but you won’t have to deal with any headaches. We bought our Vandercook flatbed letterpress from them in 2007.

3) Your Local Classifieds – I know several people who have found a letterpress simply by combing their local classifieds… over and over and over again. In Utah (where we live) KSL is the place to look.

4) NA Graphics – The owner, Fritz Klinke, has over 50 years of letterpress experience. He sells a variety of letterpress parts and pieces, and occasionally has a press to sell as well. When we were thinking about adding another press, I called to see if he had any available. Even though he didn’t have one for sale at the time, we ended up being on the phone for a half an hour, while he patiently listened to our circumstances and then gave his advice as to what kind of press we should get.

5) Hot Metal Services – Dave and Beth travel the country, servicing and repairing letterpresses (including ours) along the way. In fact, Dave is one of the only letterpress repairmen left in the entire country. Because of this, they have a wide network, and are often the first to hear when a “new” press goes on the market.

6) Sterling Type Foundry – Dave Churchman has been stockpiling letterpress parts and pieces for a quarter century. I visited his warehouse in Indianapolis when I was just starting Sycamore Street Press in 2007, and got a number of bits and bobs that we still use today. If you’re lucky, he might have an entire press for sale, too.

7) Letterpress Friends & Associates – You have them, right? Not only is it fun to get to know other people who share your interest in letterpress, it can come in very handy, too. We’ve found that in general, the letterpress community is very friendly and willing to share information. So get to know other printers — locally, out of state, and abroad. Go to shows, take classes, attend creative meet-ups, etc… We found our last letterpress through someone who was taking one of the letterpress workshops we teach periodically.

We hope this helps you to find the letterpress of your dreams! – Kirk & Eva

A few links for you: My visit to Dave Churchman’s letterpress warehouse, moving our Heidleberg Windmill into the studio, we heart teaching

On Being You. (What Hit Home at ALT)

As I was sharing my notes from the Altitude Design Summit with Kirk, I realized that there was one big idea being discussed again and again in different ways and by a variety of speakers: BE YOU.
I want to talk about 3 different ways the speakers approached that idea:

1) Find your niche
2) Do what you love. Delegate the rest.
3) Design your life.

In order to stand out in today’s blogging world (or paper goods or graphic design or whatever it is that you do) you need to specialize. You need to find out what you are good at, what you are passionate about, what is truly “you” and go for it. This doesn’t mean that you have to narrow your focus so tightly that you are decide you can only blog about “vintage owl salt and pepper shakers”, for example. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. But everything you do must be a part of your distinct vision.
Gretchen Rubin, author of the Happiness Project and a keynote speaker at Alt, told a great anecdote about this. Her whole life, she kept trying to listen to music. She tried classical, she tried jazz, she tried pop… but none of it seemed to be doing anything for her. Finally, she came to the realization that she just doesn’t like music! Once she figured that out, she was able to let it go and focus on things she really does enjoy. (She’s a big children’s literature fan, for one.)
Realizations like this are sometimes a little sad, but they’re empowering at the same time, don’t you think? Rubin told us it doesn’t matter what we wish is true about ourselves. It matters what is true and who we really are. For example, if you’re a jewelry designer, but the current trend of incorporating triangles into your work isn’t you, don’t do it!
Jasmine Star, who was on the Building a Personal Brand panel, had a great little exercise to help you figure out and focus on who you really are. She said you just need to list 3 words. But there are a couple of rules to listing those words:
1) The words must focus on you, not your business.
2) The words must be who you are, not who you aspire to be.
What would your 3 words be?
I think that if we all spent enough time honing the skills and qualities that make each of us uniquely us, we would be surprised at how our creative projects, businesses, etc… would grow. There would be less copy-catting and more exciting ideas. Because each of us has a unique perspective.
So don’t forget to find your niche, if you haven’t already. And if you have, keep working on it.

Sarah of Sarah Jane Studios clearly stated this idea in the Work Life Balance panel. She said that in the beginning stages of a new venture, you won’t have this luxury. But as soon as you are able, you should start hiring help. Sarah made this decision a year ago, and since then she told us she is making more money and spending more time doing what she loves. How wonderful is that?!

Tasks to delegate:
1) Your weaknesses (aka someone else’s strengths)
2) Things you don’t like doing
3) Stuff you simply don’t have time for
For one person this might mean shipping and assembling, for another it may mean graphic design, marketing, and photography. You get the idea.
Not only that, but you should even get help a little before you think you can afford it. Sometimes by waiting too long, you are actually hindering your business. By freeing yourselves up to be creative and do what you do best, you can help your business evolve and grow more quickly and efficiently.
This brings me to the question I asked Ben Silberman (founder of Pinterest) after his keynote speech on Friday. A couple of years ago he personally emailed me back after I contacted Pinterest’s customer service. At the time (and even now) I was struck by how deeply involved he was in every level of his company. But in reality, as a company grows, the founder won’t be able to continue doing this type of thing. So I asked Ben how he is able to stay personally involved and maintain a high level of quality as his company evolves. He replied simply that he hires people who are better than him. “In fact,” he said, “if I applied for a job today at Pinterest, I probably wouldn’t hire myself.” Ha! Such a humble guy. But he has a point. Building a wonderful team is just as important as building a product. Because in the long run, you won’t have a great product without a great team. Which brings us back to the point:
Do what you love (and are best at) and delegate the rest.

Susan Petersen (from the Blog to Shop panel) articulated this sentiment so well in a beautiful little video about her over on Big Cartel. She says: “Get clear about the life you want… re-focus your priorities until you can see that life, and then run like hell at it.” Amen, sister.
I’ve been rolling this idea around in my head, getting used to it. That’s what we are all trying to do in our lives, but she stated it so simply and matter-of-factly. And why not?! So I’ve been envisioning what my perfect life is like. I’m not talking about some pie-in-the-sky kind of fantasy, but a wonderfully realistic version of my dream life. It’s fun to think about, right? For me, it means spending quality time with my family and friends in beautiful surroundings, finding ways to show kindness and give back, and focusing my work life on the creative side of Sycamore Street Press.

What does it mean for you? 

 

And just to make sure that these words won’t be quickly forgotten as soon as I click “publish”, I promise to check back from time to time and give you a little progress report. I’d love it if you want to do the same!

Also check out my Stationery Business classes on atly.com.

Our Letterpress No. 2


4 years ago, Kirk and I moved our first letterpress into our dining room on Sycamore Street in Columbus, Ohio. I already had the name “Sycamore Street Press” picked out, and went right to work on designing, sourcing materials, etc… Although I knew I was starting a letterpress paper goods company, I didn’t think it would ever be larger than just me and my press. That all changed, of course. It just sucked me in more and more… and I let it. But that’s a good thing.

Here’s why:

1) I love it.
2) It’s a wonderful & practical way to use my degrees in studio art and printmaking.
3) Kirk ended up loving it, too, and now we are able to work together every day.

So for the past 4 years, our business has grown and our goods are now carried in hundreds of shops all over the world. (Crazy!) We’ve continued printing every single thing on our trusty Vandercook: our first and only press up until this point. It doesn’t have a motor of any sort, and it’s probably the slowest way possible of letterpress printing (which is already much slower than more contemporary methods). But it’s solid and lovely to work with. And most importantly — it produces beautifully textured results.

For the past couple of years, though, we’ve felt the need to get another press. Kirk has stayed up late night after night cranking the press back and forth, and still we’ve had to turn down more and more requests for custom work. We’ve simply maxed out the amount of work that can be done on one flatbed letterpress.

But getting a press is a little more complicated than a trip to the mall. They haven’t been manufactured since the 1960’s or 70’s, so there’s a finite amount left in the world. Even finding one for sale can be a chore. Especially if you are looking for a very specific kind, want it to be in good working condition, nearby, and reasonably priced. It took us 2 years to find our second press, and I consider that lucky!

We weren’t looking for just any letterpress — we wanted a Heidelberg Windmill. These presses are the true workhorses of the letterpress industry. They’re still much slower, hands-on, and deliberate than digital or offset presses, but compared to our Vandercook, the Windmill is a dream of efficiency. And the resulting color and impression are equal to, if not better, than what we can do with the Vandercook. We still love the Vandie and will still use it to print large scale projects such as our 11×14″ art prints. But we’re hoping the Windmill will take over greeting card duty.

Now, I may be getting ahead of myself with all this talk. We still have to finish cleaning and setting up the press. And learning to print well on it will be a challenge…

In any case,  it’s here, and we’re excited.

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A few things I’ve been enjoying lately:
Dreamy sounds & visuals on this new album.
I’d love a distressed mirrored wall in my home. Would you?
This might be just the thing to finish off my living room. (via d*s)
I could move right in to this charming place.
Simple. Easy. Delicious. My favorite kind of recipe.
Currently reading this and this. Both are amazing.
Ingrid is about to start walking, but still wears size 3-6 month shoes. I’m having a hard time finding some that will work for her (and for my aesthetics), but these might do the trick.
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Have a lovely week!
Eva

Also check out my Stationery Business classes on atly.com.

Letterpress Printing 101

With 20 new cards and 9 new art prints set to debut next week, Kirk has been printing like crazy. Here’s a little behind the scenes look at him printing one of our new cards.

1 ///// Registration

Once a design is complete, we ready the files and upload them to Boxcar Press, our trusty plate makers. About a week later, a truck pulls up to our door with a shiny new letterpress printing plate.

The plates are made of photopolymer, which is a transparent, adhesive backed, flexible plastic. Kind of like a big textured sticker. Kirk sticks the plate down on a slab of metal (called a base) that is secured to the flat part of the press (called a bed like on a truck). It usually takes him multiple tries to get the plate positioned so that it will print in the right place on the card. For more complicated jobs, this can sometimes take an hour or more. This process is called registration.

2 ///// Inking the Press

Kirk takes some ink out of a can, places it on a glass slab, and works it with the ink knife until it loosens up a bit. Then he scoops some ink up on the knife and carefully taps it across the rollers, keeping it as even as possible. Since our press doesn’t have motorized inking, he then turns a little crank around and around until the ink distributes as evenly as possible over all the rollers (see image below).

Inking can be a tricky process. You not only have to worry about keeping it even across all the rollers, you also have to worry about having just the right amount. Too little, and the printing will look washed out with too much of the white paper showing through. (This is called “salty”.) Too much, and the ink squishes out everywhere looking really sloppy. The trouble comes when you have a thick shapes and thin lines on the same plate. The thick shapes end up looking salty and the thin lines end up looking sloppy. So we try to avoid that kind of design.

3 ///// Packing / Makeready

Once the registration and inking are sorted out, Kirk needs to figure out how much packing to use. Packing is the paper you place behind the card while it goes through the press. It’s also the layers of paper and mylar that cover the cylinder that the card gets clamped to. The more packing you use, the more impression you get. But if you use too much, you could damage your plate, or worse, the press. It’s a delicate balance.

4 ///// Printing

Once everything is ready to go, Kirk clamps the card down onto the cylinder, and then cranks the cylinder (and rollers) forward to the end of the press bed. It requires taking a step or two forward. Once the cylinder hits the end of the press bed, the clamps automatically open, and he pulls the card out. At that point, he cranks the cylinder back to the starting point and reaches for the next card.

Each piece of paper needs to be cranked through the press one at a time. It makes for some strong, broad shoulders!

5 ///// Cleaning

Because we have a manually operated press and use non-toxic solvents, it takes about an hour to clean the press. One hour of wiping back and forth with cotton rags. For this reason, he tries to plan it so he can print as many items as possible in the same ink color on the same day.

There you have it! I walked you through the steps of a typical greeting card press run here at Sycamore Street Press. And if the card has two colors (as most of ours do) then this whole process has to be repeated. And once the printing is done, Kirk still has to fold all the cards and package them with their envelopes in clear protective sleeves. That process can take as long as the printing itself.

As you can see, crafting a card or art print with a letterpress is a much more involved process than more modern methods such as digital. This is why we have to charge what we do and place the minimums that we do. But the unique, tactile look of letterpress is so beautiful that I believe it’s all worth it! Faster, cheaper methods just don’t provide the same results.

This card was designed by our friend Stephanie Ford, who designs our Pop line. Isn’t she talented?! Two of her designs got picked up by the MoMA Design Shop. (I can brag if it’s about someone else, right? :) We’re so lucky to have her as a part of the Sycamore Street Press team.

Also check out my Stationery Business classes on atly.com.

A Giveaway & A Class

Kate from Art Hound wrote to tell me about a fantastic giveaway she’s doing over on her blog. She’s giving away an Art Matching session (worth $250) which is a service where she researches and finds the perfect art for your home. I love her blog — she’s got great taste in art, so this would be a very cool thing to win… Leave a comment on this post to enter.

p.s. How adorable is that frenchie?

Jamie Shelman – artist, illustrator, and teacher behind the Pikaland Bootcamp Series is teaching an online course called “Exploring the 5 Senses“. I think you have to sign up by November 10th, so hurry on over if you are interested! I love her funny little drawings of cats… this would be a fun one to take but something tells me I’ll be a bit too occupied this time around.

Frenchie Love


Meet Skipper, Barbie, Midge, and Franklin.

One of our customers kindly sent this photo to us after buying a some of our Frenchie Merci and Frenchie Je T’Aime cards. It doesn’t get much cuter than this.

Renegade SF This Weekend

If you’re in the Bay area, please come say hello.

(p.s. I love this town!)

Paper goodness at the NSS / Printshop moving sale


One of my favorite parts of the NSS was seeing all the creative and good looking business cards and handouts floating around. Here are just a few bits of paper goodness that I gathered.

Clockwise from upper left: Product Superior, Birddog Press, Oscar and Emma Design, Anna Beckman Calligraphy, Mohawk Paper (buttons), Fugu Fugu Press, Gus and Ruby Letterpress, Dutch Door Press.
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Also, I’m selling the below paper cutter before we move. It can cut through a stack of letter size paper. If you are interested, let me know, and I’ll give you a good deal. I also have stacks of colored recycled stock that’s already cut and scored into A2 cards, and a few other odds and ends from the printshop that I’m selling.

Friday Giveaway: New Numbers Poster

Well, Steph’s outdone herself again!
She designed the perfect partner to her popular alphabet poster.

I letterpress printed them in 4 color combos: watermelon/rose, chocolate/apple, tulip/water, and graphite/tangerine (with soy inks on really nice cotton paper). I also reprinted the alphabet posters in all those colors, so they can hang as a nice matching set. (Sadly, we’re slowly phasing out the light turquoise/deep crimson colorway, so I put it on sale in the shop.)

If you’re really observant, maybe you noticed that they’ve been up in the shop for almost a week…and that Steph already posted about them…as did the (oh so) beautiful paper blog. (thanks!) But I waited until today to blog about them, because I really wanted them to debut here as a Friday giveaway.

This giveaway is for a numbers and an alphabet poster…in whichever colors you choose.

To enter the giveaway:
1) Check out the list of boutiques that already carry us, and read the shop recommendations that readers have left us in the comments of this blog entry.
2) Leave a comment below with the name and contact info (including website) of a boutique that you feel would be a good fit for our products AND that’s not a shop already mentioned in the above links.
3) Check back next Friday, March 6th, to see if you won.




p.s. thanks to design*sponge guest blogger, sarah cormier, for featuring us in one of her posts on hand-lettering this week.

The Letterpress Process

Here’s a brief overview of how I use the antiquated letterpress printing process to make contemporary stationery, paper goods, and prints.

1) Someone makes a drawing. It can be done the old-fashioned way or made in the computer. (Michéle Brummer-Everett hand drew this one.) It has to be very crisp and high contrast. If I’ll be printing it in more than one color, a separate drawing, or layer, has to be made for each color. You can see in Michéle’s drawing above, that there are 3 separate parts, which will each be a separate color and fit together like a puzzle when printed.

2) If the drawing is done by hand, we scan it into the computer and upload the files to Boxcar Press’s website. They use a light sensitive process to make very precise plastic (photopolymer) plates from the drawings. About a week after I upload the files, I get a funny looking, clear yellow, flexible, adhesive backed plastic plate in the mail. The image is backwards and raised off the surface of the plate.

3) I get my ink ready by working it with an ink knife on some glass. I use soy-based ink from Gans ink. It’s better for the environment, and unlike some other inks, can be run through a laser printer without getting messed up. (Not that I ever really need this…but it would come in handy for letterpressed letterhead.) I usually add a little magnesium carbonate to the ink to make it a little stiffer and less likely to squish out and look messy when printed.

4) I tap the ink across the top roller, and then hand crank the little wheel at the side to distribute the ink throughout all the rollers. (I think there are 7 total…but only 2 that actually make contact with the plate.)

5) I oil the press.

6) I position the plate on my aluminum Boxcar Base, which has a grid to help me register it correctly. Sometimes this process is fairly simple, sometimes it can take a frustratingly long time! I do a bunch of test proofs to see if it is lined up the way I want it on the paper. During this time I also check to make sure that I am getting the amount of impression I’m looking for, that there is the right amount of ink on the rollers, and that they are at the right height.

i love the texture of the impression letterpress printing makes

7) I start printing! (Sorry I don’t have any pictures of this — maybe next time. I didn’t feel like playing with the self timer.)My press is a Vandercook #3. It’s about 2 feet wide and 7 feet long. There are little grippers on top to hold the paper in place on the cylinder. The press doesn’t have a motor, so for each impression, I hand crank the cylinder and walk with it to the end of the press bed, where I take out the printed sheet, and then crank it back to the beginning. Then I clamp the next sheet into the grippers, and begin again.

While I am printing, I watch for smudges, flecks of ink, changes in impression, etc… I often have to stop and apply more ink to the rollers, or wipe of a smudge from the plate. Some plates are very tricky to print, and I have to wipe them clean between each print, or pass over them twice with the rollers. It’s a finicky process!

8) Most of the time, Kirk cleans the press. ( For which I am very grateful.) We use a non-toxic oily solvent and cotton rags to get all the ink off the press. It takes an hour. An hour of just wiping the rollers back and forth. You can see why I like Kirk.

on the left is a proof where i was trying to find the correct registration. on the right, i finally found it.

9) Repeat steps 3-8 for however many colors are left to print.

10) If it’s not already done, cut down paper to size (and score if it’s a folding card). Package items, photograph, put in shop, etc…

There you have it. A (pretty) brief overview of how I do my letterpress printing. Of course, different people have different sorts of presses, processes, etc… I would love to start printing from some gorgeous old hand-set lead and wooden type, for example.
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I’m excited to see how Michéle‘s print looks when I am finished with it. There’s still another part of the image to be printed, plus the date, title, and signature. I’ll hopefully have it in the shop in early February.

It is the first in a 2009 series for Sycamore Street Press of limited edition artist prints. More on that later.