Design For Good – Ideas That Matter

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Ideas That Matter is a grant initiative founded by Sappi designed with the design community in mind. Creatives are frequently asked to donate their services to create campaigns for non-profits. Sappi developed a grant program to help offset the cost of production for collateral to help raise awareness and assist in fund-raising for the cause at hand.

Founded in 1999, Ideas That Matter has funded more than 500 programs globally. Over $12 Million has been granted to non-profit projects that reflect the on-going commitment in the design community to use design in combination with innovative thinking to solve social problems. The deadline for applying for the 2014 grant is July 11th. In the meantime check out Charity Ball, one of the many innovative nonprofit programs supported in part by Ideas That Matter.

Spec Rep Secrets: Start with the Envelope

Colorful identity system by Stitch Design

As a paper rep, my favorite projects to work on with designers were identity systems. They always seem to be the ones that offered the most freedom, especially when it comes to paper specification. Typically once the design elements are established, the focus turns to print and paper. So when it came time to pick the stocks for Parse & Parcel, I figured I got this. After all, paper is my specialty.  But like a bride to be planning her wedding, I got so caught up in the details that I forgot my own rule when it comes to identity design. Start with the envelope first.

Paper Resource: Neenah Cabinet Update

neenah-cabinet-parse-parcelYou know we love anything that makes accessing paper, and paper info easy. So we were thrilled to see our friends at Neenah just released a new version of their online paper resource tool – CabinetTM. Now you can gain access to all of Neenah’s swatchbooks online, so when you need to reference a sheets size, basis weight or color availability you’re not SOL if you don’t have the swatchbook handy.

Paper Promo: Feel, Think, Do – Haptic Design

Did you know people who rely solely on touch and no images feel a stronger connection to a product? It’s true, it’s been proven in a recent study on haptics (sense of touch). As someone who loves paper I wasn’t surprised to hear this, but it did offer an explanation as to why I gravitate towards papers with a tactile finish and nice heft to them. Show me a print sample featuring a blind emboss and there’s a good chance you’ll never see it again. Needless to say, I was a little woozy when I saw the new promotion about haptic design from Neenah Paper called feel think do.
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Design Resource: Essential Social Media Design Cheat Sheet

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Just when you’ve designed the perfect layout for your twitter profile page, the network announces a site redesign. With all of the social media profiles you and clients have, staying on top of responsive design enhancements can be a full time job.  The essential social media design cheat sheet courtesy of Omnicore makes life a little easier.

The graphic is full of good info, including image size requirements, where to position graphics for optimum mobile viewing and notes specific to the social network.  Did you know on Instagram, photos imported from a native phone camera will save at a lower resolution than those taken with the app’s camera?

Spec Rep Secrets: Do You Know the House Sheet You’re Printing On?


I got an email last week from a former customer of mine wanting info on a printer’s house sheet, which was a private label. The job was scheduled to go to press that day and he hadn’t heard of the paper being used and wanted to know what it was. It’s a fair question. As a creative professional one’s reputation is based on the quality of one’s work, and when it comes to print, paper has a huge impact on the final results. So the fact that my former customer was reaching out to me for answers made me think – do designers really know what they are getting when it comes to a house sheet?

It’s kind of like asking if you know what you are getting when you buy a generic brand at the grocery store. For me, I frequent a local grocer that’s been operating in my city since the early twentieth century. The stores are clean, well stocked, their employees are friendly and knowledgeable, their commitment to sustainability very transparent and their prices are fair – not the cheapest, but that’s OK with me. I trust them to sell me a quality generic brand – not some chemical laden, GMO product imported from half a world away. Obviously not all generic brands are equal and the same goes for private label house sheets. It comes down to one thing – do you trust your printer? Hopefully the answer is yes. If you’re not sure, here are some things to think about when it comes to using private label house sheets.

Hoefler & Co. Launch Discover Typography Site

Talk about discovery retail as a platform, Hoefler & Co. created an interesting way to discover typography through understanding and experiencing different typefaces.

The site consists of three different categories in ‘zoomable’ landscapes. Suggested typefaces that reflect each category’s subject, Wanderlust, Redline, and Barrel Proof, are grouped together. A pop-up window appears when users click on a category, enabling them to learn about the typefaces it houses.

We checked out two of our favorites, Gotham and Archer. Gotham, is described as “No nonsense letters of the urban environment. From these humble beginnings comes Gotham, a hard-working typeface for the ages.” Archer is touted as being “friendlier than the average slab serif…forthright, colorful, credible and charming.” We think so too.

This is a fun site for novices, designers and typography enthusiasts alike. Of course, all the fonts can then be purchased on the Hoefler & Co. website.

Paper Inspiration: Strathmore Pure Cotton Letterpress Papers

I’m not not sure exactly when it happened but at some point during my career I fell head over heels for letterpress. Really, what’s not to love? From a light-weight kiss (slight impression) to an impressive bite (heavy indentation), letterpress imparts a tactile, hand-crafted feel that’s second to none. Which is probably why everyone from blushing brides to tech startup founders are swooning over the time honored print technique. To insure beautiful results, you’ll want to make sure you’re using the right paper – for many letterpress designers and craftsmen that means using a high cotton content sheet. One such grade recently added to the swatchbox is Strathmore Pure Cotton Letterpress Papers from our friends at Mohawk.

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Since its beginnings in 1892 the Strathmore name has been associated with innovative cotton fiber papermaking. Its symbol is the thistle, taken by Strathmore’s founder Horace Moses, from the native flora found in Scotland’s Strathmore Valley. Strathmore Pure Cotton Letterpress papers have been designed to emulate the look and feel of handmade papers, with a luxurious surface that allows for a beautiful contrast between the sheet and the printed impression. Available in four colors: Ultimate White, Soft White, Smoke Gray and Chino – all have been carefully selected to meet the creative needs of traditional social stationers and new letterpress printers. Strathmore Pure Cotton Letterpress is available in two calipers: 18 pt for digital printing and 20 pt for letterpress printing. And there’s matching 80# Text envelopes available in square or Euro flaps!

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The sheet is pure cotton in its makeup, which allows it to be bulky yet still feel soft. It’s this softness from the cotton that allows for a nice impression of the letterpress image. The bulkier 20 pt. weight allows for a heavy bite with little to no show through on the back, which is great for fans of overbite. And with that matching Euro Flap envelope, visions of letterpress lovelies already dance in our heads. Stay up to date on all the latest in paper (letterpress or otherwise), and join our community.  And if you missed it, here’s a recent post on designing for letterpress in case you need a few pointers.

Giveaway: Jessica Hische Daily Drop Cap Stationery

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From the time I learned cursive in second grade, I’ve been fascinated with lettering. I love everything about it – the curves, the loops, the flourishes. I think I covered every square inch of my folders in middle school trying to perfect the lettering of my favorite band (The Doors) – I was 13 and had a thing for Jim Morrison. I drove myself nuts trying to get the proportions of the “o” correct. Now, anytime I see a sample featuring hand lettering it goes in my keeper file. So you can imagine my delight when I heard of Jessica Hische’s Daily Drop Stationery for the Luxe Project.

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A letterer and graphic designer, Jessica Hische began the Daily Drop Cap project in 2009 illustrating a decorative letter every day until she completed twelve sets of alphabets. Now she’s turned the gorgeous project into a full line of stationery for the The Luxe Project by Moo. The collection includes a full suite of luxe products including letterhead, business cards, notecards and mini-cards (so cute) all printed on one of our favorite papers – Mohawk Superfine. The self professed crazy cat lady is donating 100% of the proceeds from sales of her collection to the ASPCA.

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We were lucky enough to have Jessica answer a few questions for us. Check out Jessica’s insights on the Daily Drop Cap project, her take on ‘procrastiworking,’ and the importance of paper specification among other things.

Tips for Designing for Letterpress

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With the National Stationery Show happening in NYC this week, letterpress lovelies are all we can think of. If you’re like us you’re thinking of how you can use it on your next project. We thought we’d share these tips for designing for letterpress from Boxcar Press.

  • Letterpress has come a long way, with more advances means greater flexibility, this includes line widths. To insure a quality impression, use lines of at least .25 pt. and when in doubt avoid hairlines.
  • Letterpress is different from offset in that you may get some show through in areas of solid coverage, creating a textured appearance.
  • Steer clear of screens and opt for a lighter color instead, you will achieve the look you want with much better results.
  • Color costs – letterpress printing traditionally uses up tp two colors but can go up to four, however keep in mind more colors will be more expensive.
  • Crop marks are essential to producing successful results – make sure to include them during the design process as designs created up to the trim line tend to yield an awkward cut.
  • Letterpress printing presses can die cut and score paper even on heavier basis weights, we say the thicker the better.
  • Letterpress is ideal for printing type but you’ll want to target a font size of 6 pt. or higher to insure the best results.

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For more info on letterpress design check out the blog at Boxcar press, they’ve got a ton of great info there. You may also want to checkout Letterpress Commons full of  great resources when it comes to letterpress printing.  We also adore the Beauty of Letterpress showing some of the best work being done in the industry today – plus they’re helping the Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum in their efforts to relocate and salvage a piece of letterpress history.

Do you love letterpress? Join our mailing list and you could win a set of gorgeous letterpress coasters!