Category Archives: Printing

A Must-Own Reference For All Graphic Design Pros

How do I love thee, Graphics Master, 8th Edition? Let me count the ways. It’s a geeky kind of love, right up there with my love of Star Trek and The Lord of the Rings. This love affair began when I was a young designer in the late 80s. I was an in-house designer at Giorgio Beverly Hills and came across a copy (at the time it was Graphics Master 4) at work one day and immediately thought, Where have you been all my life? Oh how much simpler my work life would have been had I met you earlier.

This book is a comprehensive resource guide filled with virtually every piece of technical data a web and graphic design professional may need and is a must-own for young designers and seasoned professionals alike. Digital imaging, typography specs, measurements, color conversions, dot gain, you name it, GM8 has it.

I read this book like Scotty reads starship technical manuals. Perusing its pages tells me that an A-6 envelope fits into an A-7; I can only saddle stitch about 32 sheets before I need to switch to perfect bound; that Arial is Microsoft’s ugly knock-off of Helvetica (don’t ever use it); a roll fold brochure is a better self-mailer than an accordion fold; the RGB equivalent of a CMYK color I chose; the maximum pixel width of a standard web page. Please let me go on.

I still reference its voluminous archives on a regular basis for much-needed information. Make an investment in your design career and buy this book!

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Filed under Book Recommendations, Color, Graphic Design, Printing, Typography

Don’t Buy Cheap Business Cards

Nothing says cheesy like a cheap business card, especially the ones you print at home on those perforated sheets with the equally cheesy clip art. What do you think when someone gives you a cheap business card? I think, “You’re so cheap and unprofessional that you can’t afford a decent business card?” This is not the response you want to elicit from a prospective client or contact. Your card should be as impressive as the work you do; on a subliminal level it communicates how
professional you are.

Now this doesn’t mean you have to spring for handmade Japanese paper and custom engraving, it simply means you should choose a quality stock (at least 100 lb. cover; better yet 14 pt. cover), good printing and of course, excellent design. Your attitude should never be, “How cheaply can I get these done?” You may be saving a few bucks but you’re damaging your image. Think about it, are you going to trust a financial advisor who prints his business cards at home? Or the realtor with the cheap cards she got at the quick print?

With the volume of information that now needs to be put on business cards, many are opting for two-sided cards. Excellent quality one and two-sided business cards in small quantities can be had at great prices online at GotPrint or Print Pelican. For pre-made templates VistaPrint is an acceptable choice (just don’t pick tacky clip art). Superbly designed cards that will blow you away can be ordered from

If you want a custom business card then you should hire a professional graphic designer to do the job. It may seem like overkill to hire a designer to do what you may think of as a small and insignificant task but bad design is bad even when it’s small.

The cost is as much of an investment in your career as a new suit or piece of software. Don’t be a cheapskate when it comes to your business cards. Spend the extra money and have a card you’re proud to hand out, a card that represents the kind of professional you really are.

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Filed under Graphic Design, Printing, Typography

The Resurgence of Letterpress Printing

The current resurgence of letterpress printing may puzzle many techies. Like saying blacksmiths and haberdashers are really making a comeback. But it is true, letterpress (platen presses and handset type) is being celebrated again after what was thought to be its extinction. Designers love it for the hands-on experience of creating something in the physical world and consumers love it for the feeling of old world charm and exclusivity it connotes. The growth of letterpress workshops and classes has exploded all over the country and many art schools are now offering these classes. I soon hope to have a guest post from a friend who is currently taking one of these classes.

In reading about this I came across a documentary called Typeface, a film by Justine Nagan, about the Hamilton Wood Type and Printing Museum in Two Rivers, WI. The film chronicles the preservation of and renewed interest in handset type at one of America’s great wood type printing companies. Old timers who used to work at Hamilton mix with graphic design students from Chicago who travel 175 miles north to Two Rivers to participate in workshops and use the museums working presses. It’s a fascinating look at an analog craft once thought long-dead that has been rediscovered by a digital age generation that had never known it.

The DVD is well worth purchasing, especially for the typophiles among you. I bought a copy and enjoyed it very much.Watch the trailer of the film here.

Looking at this picture of the California Job Case instantly brought back memories of this phrase: Be Careful Driving Elephants Into Small Foreign Garages. It’s one of many mnemonic devices that Mr. Little, my junior high school printshop teacher, taught us as a way of remembering the compartments in which the movable type for letterpress printing was stored. It was in this class that I first fell in love with the “graphic arts.” Thank you, Mr. Little.

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Filed under Exhibitions, Films, Graphic Design, Printing, Typography