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/ log / 23rd Oct, 2007 /

Letterpress Print Design

Grow Collective business card with debossed glyphs.

The new Grow Collective business card is in circulation. It appeared a while ago, and I’ve been meaning to post about it. Today seemed like a good day. In a calm interlude, I snapped open the lens cover, hit the macro key and, after grappling with my poor photographic technique, here you go.

It was printed using letterpress onto 740gsm two–ply (natural white with Baghdad brown) Colourplan card by the venerable, and expert printers, Piccolo Press of Nairn in Scotland. They are one of the few remaining commercial letterpress printers in the UK who, ironically, do a large portion of their printing for clients in the States. Wherever you are, you could do much worse than a conversation with Tim Honor, or the designer, Paul. Their advice is invaluable.

Quick Tips

  1. Letterpress is an analogue format so go to the highest resolution your machine and software can handle when producing the artwork. (I spend chunks of time waiting for changes to be applied at 1600dpi, but it was worth it.)
  2. Letterpress will saturate the card with ink, so your colours will be richer than printing on the office inkjet.
  3. You pay for the block, the card and the print run. It’s not cheap but then, it’s not lithographic quality, this is letterpress!
  4. Trust the advice of the printer (especially if you use Piccolo) on the choice of card. They can provide samples, but a good rule is, the thicker the card, the better the deboss at print. Standard weight is around 540gsm — almost twice that of litho printers.

There’s a high resolution photo on Flickr if you want a closer peek. I’d love to hear how you get on if you go down this route. It’s more than worth it just to run your fingers over the debossing when they’re delivered.


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  1. 1. By tyGos on 23rd Oct ’07 at 11:24am

    Dude, I thought you were a web designer?

    This post certainly smacks of a good bit of "print design geekery".

    Whattup with that dude, lol.

    Thanks for the lesson.

  2. 2. By Ian on 23rd Oct ’07 at 11:58am

    They look amazing! You need to hand me one when you next see me.

  3. 3. By Ian on 23rd Oct ’07 at 12:13pm

    You're on their website too

  4. Jon 陳’s profile 4. By Jon 陳 on 23rd Oct ’07 at 13:16pm

    You're welcome Ty. Pedantry in all things seems to be the yoke that binds me to the work. :)

    Thanks for that Ian, I didn’t know. I'll be sure to show you one next time out.

  5. 5. By Stef on 24th Oct ’07 at 02:31am

    Nice – was reminded the other day that I wanted to get the name of your printer!

  6. 6. By Elliot Jay Stocks on 24th Oct ’07 at 03:48am

    Wow. These look lovely, Jon. Would it be rude of me to ask how much you paid?

  7. Jon 陳’s profile 7. By Jon 陳 on 24th Oct ’07 at 04:18am

    Hi Stef, glad to share it. The guys over there are great. Good to see you in here! We’ll have to try and meet up again, sometime.

    Hi Elliot. Thanks! :) The cost depends on blocks, card and run but hopefully this will give you an idea: The blocks were £25 each (we had ones cut for the Grow logo, and then individual name/contact info for each member.) Card and print run for 500 was £138. All ex VAT. Delivery was about £7.

  8. 8. By Zach Inglis on 24th Oct ’07 at 05:25am

    Nice. I've been considering doing a bit of letterpress work lately and I will definitely use them.

    This is a great business card. Nice work.

  9. 9. By Steve Avery on 24th Oct ’07 at 05:46am

    Hi Jon.

    Lovely business card design mate. Be sure to throw one my way next time we meet up.

  10. 10. By Jeff on 15th Nov ’08 at 11:07am

    Wow I never thought of letterpress. They look very nice and professional.

  11. 11. By Andy Gowland on 15th Jan ’09 at 13:22pm

    Hello, do you offer a debossed print service?

    I have a client who is seeking this service. Please contact me if you do and are interested.



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