At ALT Summit last year I took a bookbinding class during the Saturday Design Camp and met Allison Chapman, the owner of Igloo Letterpress in Worthington, Ohio. In her class she helped me make a few amazing little books and finally convinced me that I needed letterpress business cards one day. Happily for me, that day has finally arrived. Don't you love it when dreams become reality?
I designed them myself, hand drawing all the type and graphics, and worked with Igloo on paper (Cranes 100% Cotton 220lb LETTRA card stock) and inks (Pantone Warm Red and a Gray I never got the specs on, but that was PERFECT).
The drawing process was interesting. Initially, I considered hiring someone to design and draw it for me, but the cost of that would have put the project over budget, so I decided to do it myself. I must have made twenty different drawings in my sketch book and at one point I had a ridiculously expensive two sided card with a tear off portion. All the sketching helped me work through some ideas though and when I scaled it back I was able to keep it simple and to the point.
After I had figured out a few details in the rough sketching stage, I broke out the graph paper to work out the layout and I drew four more variations to scale. I chose the one I liked best (above) and traced the pencil lines in pen. The next step was tracing it onto tracing paper to change a few things and get the details correct. I adjusted the wording and copied a camera I had drawn in my sketch book. The tracing paper sketch (see below) was about 75% there, but it was hard to get the kind of precision that I needed for the smaller type, plus since starting the project I changed my email address and twitter handle, so I needed to redraw them anyway. I went back to graph paper and drew the small type at 200% (see the right part of the image above.) Drawing it twice as big as it was going to be once it was printed helped to get the details nice and sharp.
Once the drawings were done, I scanned everything and took it into Photoshop to clean up the edges. I zoomed in as close as I could get and carefully erased all the gray pixels and artifacts from scanning, making sure that I didn't lose the hand drawn quality of my design or make the edges look too chunky. The key to doing this is to make sure you are very zoomed in, so you have more control, and using a smaller eraser with a feathered edge.
I handed the bitmap off to Igloo, they had the plates made in about a week and put it on press about a week after that. Even though I couldn't be there in person, they sent email proofs so I could see the colors. The red was perfect on the first run (I had asked them to use the same color on another card they printed) and the gray needed only a slight adjustment to make it a little darker.
The whole process was so smooth and easy, Beth and Allison at Igloo couldn't have been more helpful and they worked hard to get the cards to me before I left for Camp Mighty, despite a delay on the paper order because of Hurricane Sandy. For that I was so grateful. I highly recommend working with them for all your letterpress projects!
If you love the hand drawn look of these cards and are thinking this approach might be perfect for YOUR cards, let me know! I'd be happy to create custom artwork for you that would be unique and help you stand out from the crowd. Please contact me for pricing and scheduling.