Ask the Experts – Letterpress Printing with Shona Gowby Corinne Smith on 03/08/2012
Ask the Experts is a new series where we will bring to you a very generous group of experts to help with your questions— whether it be print or digital! Send us an e-mail with your question and we will find the right expert and post the answers on the website.
To start the series, Design Assembly talks to Shona Gow, Director of Magpie Press—a busy artisan letterpress business in Auckland. The heart of Magpie Press is Hildegard, a sturdy 1960’s Heidelberg windmill platen press, who faithfully whooshes her way through all manner of letterpress work.
What is the preferred way to receive artwork for letterpress?
Artwork as follows: 1 x pdf per colour/blind plate required, each pdf 100% black CMYK, all text turned to outlines/paths, crop marks, pantone uncoated spot colour/s specified. All artwork ex Illustrator or InDesign – please don’t use Photoshop at any point as this produces a pixilated/blurry line.
Are there any specific design techniques to avoid with letterpress?
Avoid large reverse solid print areas, as these print unevenly.
What is the minimum type size and stroke width?
We recommend a minimum type point size of 7pt, but this can vary depending on the line weight of the typeface. ‘Light’ and ‘Extra Light’ versions of faces are not recommended as these tend to collapse on the press.
What is the best way to setup and/or test a blind impression in letterpress printing?
A ‘no ink’ press is a brilliant effect in letterpress, especially when seen in a good directional light. The setup is exactly the same as an inked press pass. Images on our website of blind prints, along with those on other letterpress sites will give you a good idea of successful use of a blind print. This is not recommended for important details (phone number/email etc).
Do you have any tips for designers producing letterpress work and looking for a letterpress printer for the first time?
Letterpress print hugely informs development of your design, so think carefully about how the relief aspect of the print will affect your end result. Keep it clean and let the print do the work for you. Each ink requires it’s own film/plate/ink mix/press set & wash, so adds cost. A well thought through 1-colour print can have as much impact (if not more) than a 2+colour print.
Have another question for Shona? Email it through and we’ll kindly ask her to help. And, if you haven’t seen this yet, watch this clip to view Magpie Press in action letter press printing Luckless’ self-titled debut album.
Visit Magpie Press website for more information.
Image & video credits: Magpie Press & Northwest-digital.com