Letterpress is a printing technique dating back to the mid XVth century. Even though nowadays digital printing is commonly used as the main method for printing, letterpress is seeing a rebirth because of its unique feel, texture and visual effects. However, this revival, as opposed to letterpress’ use back in the day, is seen in fine arts, stationery, special events etc.
The process back in the day followed a very strict, detailed, meticulous and precise routine: individual metal letters of various fonts and sizes were carefully arranged and put together to form the text to be printed; after that, ink was applied thoroughly over the letters and then they’d be ready to be printed by applying pressure. As an alternative to the individual metal letters, nowadays photopolymer plates are used, though there still are artisans using the old ways. At the same time, as an alternative to the hand-operated letterpress machines, automated letterpress printing machines are used.
Tips for creating a letterpress-friendly design:
- avoid using fonts that are too thin or have fine details. During the printing process such details can be lost, so it is best to consider not using them.
- avoid using more than 2 or 3 ink colors. Adding another color actually means starting the whole printing process all over again; each color gets its own plate and printing time, therefore, the price is surely influenced by the number of colors to be printed. Also, avoid overlapping the colors.
- avoid using transparency, shadows, gradients etc. These can not be reproduced in letterpress printing. It’s either the color evenly spread or no color at all.
- image files can not be used in letterpress and hot foil printing. So no, Photoshop files are not ok as they are image files. The designs used in letterpress and hot foil have to be vector files, grouped and converted to curves. That means you must use a program that creates vector files and the most common ones are Corel Draw and Adobe Illustrator (.cdr and .ai files).
- NO: .psd, .jpeg, .png etc. The design file has to be either .cdr or .ai or vector based .pdf.
Why is letterpress printing more expensive than digital printing?
Despite the use of polymer plates and automated printing machines, letterpress is still a highly complex and time consuming process. Setting up the machine alone takes a lot of attention and patience. Each color in a design gets its own plate and each plate requires a new machine set-up, washing and inking. The thick card stock used for letterpress printing is also not your regular card as well.
Why choose letterpress?
Letterpress printed products are high quality and luxurious; they are special, they provide an exquisite visual and tactile experience that will make it difficult for the receiver to throw them away. In this era of technology when all you need to get contact information is a mobile phone and we even started sending wedding invitations through emails, paper is indeed losing ground. However, letterpress printing came to show that a tangible, physical object will surely leave a lasting impression that will definitely be beneficial on the long term.
Funky Print Studio is a family-owned and operated letterpress and hot foil atelier based in Bucharest, Romania. Our services include:
- letterpress printing (we print on an Original Heidelberg Platen windmill from circa 1960) – edge painting, rounded corners, blind impression, emboss (as opposed to deboss = letterpress printing); we also make our own polymer plates in house
- hot foil printing – various foil colors
- die cutting – cutting card stock in whatever shape and size using custom dies
- finishing processes – cutting, folding, perforating, drilling
We do our very best to revive antique machinery and printing processes in order to create impressive details that will be treasured for a long time.