Saturday, March 22, 2008

Branching out in color...

© 2008 Sunlit Letterpress

Yesterday was a holiday here, so I finally made a trek to the paper store to buy some colored paper to do some test printing. I use a lot of Crane Lettra in the studio, but white paper can get pretty boring after a while. There aren't a lot of options for good colored paper (that I've found anyways) that stands up well to letterpress, but I found some this weekend that is better than others. Above are some photos of a run of khaki trees on some light khaki paper (now available in our Etsy shop).

Speaking of Etsy, I must admit I'm a bit disappointed in recent developments. Etsy has started a little application called "Alchemy" on their site - people who want custom-made pieces put in a request with a listing of the "ideal price" they want to pay for something, and a description of what it is that they want. I took a quick look around and it made me a little sad. People asking for custom art pieces or handmade goods for really, really low amounts. For example, one person has put in a request for 50 custom-designed letterpress business cards for something like $20. Only one person has bid on the project, but $20 is just totally unrealistic.

First off, whether you are using metal type or photopolymer - the card has to be typeset or designed on the computer (or sketch). Then there are the paper costs, plate costs if using plates, ink costs, time to cut the paper, the printing costs, then the packing and shipping. And don't forget any overhead, the cost of packaging, and the cost of gas to drop off the package at the post office. Who can do all of that for $20? If someone is doing it for $20, then I reckon they aren't running a letterpress business that will last very long - or they are simply enjoying an expensive hobby.

Now I realize that people don't have to bid on projects at Alchemy, and that if you do submit a bid, you can submit it for higher than what the person lists as their "ideal price". But really, if people are only willing to offer $20, then in my opinion, this is akin to those horrible freelance websites where people low-ball to get a designer to design their entire corporate identity package for $100. And we know how that turns out. "Lo barato sale caro"...Anyways, enough ranting and raving...

I recently finished a run of custom letterpress business cards for a client and will post photos soon!

Happy letterpressing!


  1. I completely agree with everything you've just said about alchemy. It breaks my heart. I'd love to bid on some letterpress requests, but know that I'm just wasting my time offering them products at realistic prices.

    I've listed a few custom business card packages on my etsy site, at a discounted rate to what I would offer to clients in my usual line of work. But comparing these prices to others on offer - mine look so expensive.

    It's a lot of work and most people don't realise this. I even got a msg from an etsy buyer last week asking if they could just have one of my designs so they could get it printed somewhere cheaper!

  2. Heartily agree with you about Alchemy, a retrograde step IMO, I am steering well clear of it.

  3. I wanted to chime in as well and say that I'd noticed this in alchemy recently as well. I laughed out loud at the preferred costs. There is roughly a $45 minimum for plate fees alone where I have my plates made. (after creating film and shipping). And it's usually 1 to 2 hours to print something small, plus ink fees, cost of paper, cutting paper....UGH! People always want something for nothing. I say, hop on to a mass-production stationery shop and get flat printed cards if you want something cheap. You know? This doesn't even include custom design time. If people went to an agency it would be around $130 per hour for design! The very lowest design fee I've heard of for a pro freelance designer is $25 per hour (a beginner or someone willing to take a low fee). People are willing to pay their plumbers, electricians, exterminators, etc, but not designers? Sorry to ramble; you touched a hot topic with me lately. :) Anyway, ETHICALLY speaking, it's not proper to under-charge for our work. It demeans our business and trade.

  4. What kind of colored paper is it that you liked?


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...