Letterpress Basics

What is letterpress? 

Letterpress printing is one of the original forms of multiple quantity/duplicate printing.  In the beginning, a person (typesetter) would have to arrange lead type into the bed of a press (one.letter.at.a.time), ink it up, and press paper against it to transfer the ink from the type which then creates an impression along with the print on the paper.  This was a very time consuming process– it could take hours to setup a page of text!  However, once it’s setup, you could print as much as you needed in the fraction of the time it would take to hand write and rewrite the same text.

Nowadays, letterpress uses photo-etched polymer plates from computer generated files to create the press form.  You are now able to flawlessly combine images, text, and ornaments into a design that would have possibly taken days to finish.  In this way, modern technology melds with old machinery and technique to create an extremely unique product.

Why should I invest in letterpress? 

We understand that digital or flat printing is a fast and affordable method for many people. While this can result in beautiful prints, letterpress printing offers a textural element that digital printing cannot achieve. Letterpress printing is a hand-crafted process that produces an authentic and beautiful tactile piece. Raised images (by way of polymer plates) are inked and individually pressed into 100% cotton paper using an antique printing press. This creates a beautiful, debossed impression that you can see and feel. So if you want a texturally interesting piece that is classy and timeless – you cannot go wrong with letterpress!

Why is letterpress so expensive?

Letterpress is more expensive than digital print methods because it is more labor intensive and  the materials are generally more expensive than traditional printing. Everything about letterpress printing is manual and quite laborious – we hand-mix the inks, feed each sheet through one by one, and even power one of the presses by foot! After printing, it is meticulously cut by hand to finish the job.  One job can take several hours or even a few days to complete, but the results are absolutely worth it!

Will you work with my budget?

No. Yes, definitely! Let us know what your budget is – we can usually come up with something to fit that budget or suggest ways to make it work (different paper options, 1-color printing, etc.).

I don’t see a wedding package that quite fits my needs….will you customize one for me?

Sure. Let us know what elements you need and we can prepare a free custom quote especially for you!

How do I order?

Simple! After you’ve read about our processes and pricing, simply email us the details of your project (what pieces you want, quantities, colors, theme, etc). You may also upload your artwork here. We will send you an official estimate for approval and then send you an invoice. We require that a 50% deposit be paid (or the entire project paid in full) before any design or print production begins. The remaining balance is due upon project completion, before we ship it to you.

Why is my estimate different than the prices listed on your website?

Prices listed on this website are based on the average project, but since a majority of our jobs are custom, certain factors can increase the costs to print. For instance, artwork with bleeds, heavy solid areas or “floods” of color, etc. can cause the price to increase because it may require more press/production time. The best way for us to accurately estimate a project is for you to send us a copy of your artwork so we can send you a custom quote.

Why do I need to specify PMS colors?

Actually, there is no need to unless you are particular about what color you want. The best way is to do this in the file or simply list them out in an email (PMS Uncoated Color Book). If you are unsure about Pantone colors or do not own a Pantone Book, paint chips from your local hardware store are also a great way to show us what color you like! We prefer to see physical printed samples of colors because colors can vary from monitors to monitor and are not always a reliable or accurate.  We can still go off monitor colors as long as you give us written acknowledgement that colors may vary slightly from the screen to paper, and therefore we will not be responsible for reprints if you are unsatisfied with a color that we’ve matched on screen.

What is your turnaround time?

Please allow 2-3 weeks after a proof is approved. Rush orders (additional $75)  may be available depending on our schedule – please inquire! For custom design work, please allow at least 4-6 weeks so that we may finalize the designs.

Design Process

Is design included in the price?

For a custom design, we charge a one hour $75 design fee.  It’s very rare that we charge more than one hour for design fees, unless a project goes well beyond the original project scope (ie. a complete design reversal or major change in design after initial round of proofs). We suggest that you have somewhat of an idea or samples of invitations/business cards that you like so that we can get a feel for your style. Pinterest inspiration boards have been an awesome way to convey preferred styles, and is the perfect way for us to get going on your custom design!

Can I see a physical printed sample of my product?

Due to the high costs of set-up this is usually not an option, however we can mail you a sample pack with our previous prints we’ve done so you can see and feel the results of letterpress for yourself!

What kind of art direction do you need from me?

Tell us any and every detail of your theme or wedding vision! If you’ve got a Pinterest board, send that over as well! We appreciate any information about the colors, location, flowers, season, and any unique details you may have! Many beautiful wedding themes and invitation ideas have revolved around a couple’s engagement story, the location of the event, and even the story behind the ring. We appreciate any mention of specific preferences, such as font styles, paper choices, and overall “feel” of the piece you want to convey.

Can you print my own design?

While we prefer to print our own designs, we can definitely print yours too! We give a small design credit as long as the designs are in the correct format suitable for polymer plate production.

Wedding Ettiquette & Wording

Please take the time to read our Wedding Etiquette Series:

1. Complete Wedding Stationery Suite

2. Timeline

3. Wording

4. Map / Accommodations

5. Day of & After

Do you offer custom-addressed calligraphy?

Yes! Please allow at least 2 months notice for custom calligraphy orders.

Do you offer invitation assembly?

Yes, for a small fee, we can assemble your invitations for you!

Artwork Setup & Printing Expectations

What types of files do you accept?

All artwork must be vector-based, meaning that they are editable shapes (not pixel art) that can be edited in Adobe Illustrator (.ai or .eps file). This ensures that the image we receive is crisp enough to process for high-quality polymer plate production.

Please do not send Photoshop or flattened files. All text MUST be outlined. You may separate the layers by color if you wish, but this is not required. Please indicate the PMS (uncoated) colors in the file or in a corresponding email. Any artwork that is sent to us without PMS colors (CMYK, RGB) will be converted by us automatically.

What is the thinnest line / smallest dot you can print?

We require at least a 0.35 pt stroke. This is the thinnest line that letterpress can hold – anything thinner than that cannot be guaranteed. Dots must be at least 1 pt.

Can you print a solid flood of color on my business card?

Generally, we don’t like to print full, solid areas of ink because it’s simply not ideal for letterpress.  What makes letterpress so interesting is the tactile feel of the ink being pressed into the paper, so if the entire card is pressed or debossed, it just doesn’t look or feel letterpressed any more. Also, printing large solid areas of artwork is a lot more demanding for our antique presses, and it may require more than one pass on the press to get the right opaqueness, which would increase the costs. We suggest a custom duplex instead (a colored stock mounted on to the back of the letterpressed piece) – please email us for a custom quote.

Can you match the edge paint to my PMS color?

Although we will try to match them as close as we can, we cannot match them 100% because we use an entirely different set of inks for edge paint.

Can you die-cut custom shapes?

We can! We take on die-cut projects on a case-by-case basis depending on the desired shape (our press may have limitations). Send us your artwork and we’ll be happy to let you know if your project is suitable for die-cutting on our press.

Can you round-corner?

Yes! Our round-corners have a radius of 3/8.”

How much bleed do I need to provide?

Please send your artwork with 0.25″ of bleed (0.125″ on each side).

Will I receive a proof?

All orders come with complimentary digital proofs. While these digital proofs are an accurate representation of artwork position on the final trimmed piece, please note that colors may vary from monitor to monitor, thus requiring you to specify Pantone Colors.

Do you offer press checks?

We do this on a case-by-case basis and is strictly based on our print schedule.

Can I print white on black? White on Navy? Pink on Brown?

Because letterpress inks are transparent, we are unable to print light colors on dark papers. This would require custom foil stamping, please inquire for a quote. The only exception to this is printing metallic silver or gold on dark papers – we can achieve a level of opaqueness with these colors however please note that the metallic or shiny properties are absorbed into the paper so the color will show up more matte than shiny.

Can you combine digital (flat) printing & letterpress print methods?

Yes, we can! We have a few different paper options that are not listed on this website, please contact us for details.

For Wedding Professionals

Do you provide printed materials for styled shoots?

We sure can depending on our schedule! Please let us know the theme and any other involved vendors. Please also try to contact us at least one month in advance to schedule accordingly.

Will you be my preferred stationery vendor?

Why, yes of course! Feel free to list us on your website – we are working on a list of our own.

Do you give special pricing to preferred vendors or wedding coordinators?

We sure do! Please email us at info@thepapermintpress.com for more information.