Business FAQ2019-09-26T06:09:21+00:00
Can you print white ink on dark paper?2019-09-22T00:25:50+00:00

Yes, with our in-house foil stamping machine we can print opaque white and other light colors on black (or any color) paper! Unlike foil pigments, letterpress inks are translucent, so light color inks don’t show up well on dark or saturated-color stocks, though some letterpress inks like silver can work on some paper stocks (we can show you some samples or set up a press check to confirm the best option for your project).

I have a crazy/weird/outlandish design idea, can you make it happen?2019-09-23T17:13:05+00:00

We live for this! We excel in creative problem-solving & truly hand-tailored designs.

Can you print metallics?2019-09-22T00:27:32+00:00

Yes, with our in-house foil stamping machine we can print with shiny, metallic foils. We can also letterpress print with metallic inks, but they do not have the same level of metallic sheen that you see when foil stamping.  With the letterpress process, printed on the softer and more absorbent papers that we use, the metallic effect is diminished. In a larger solid area, and with lighter impression, you will get some metallic sheen, but in small type, the metallic effect will not really be perceptible and will almost always read as a flat color.

I would like a flood of color printed on the back of my business card. Can you do this?2019-09-22T00:13:58+00:00

Large solid areas of ink are difficult to execute well with a letterpress, unless you like a certain distressed look [like this – insert link].  They require a tremendous amount of impressional strength to transfer the ink evenly and get a good even film on the paper.  We have two alternative solutions for floods of color. The first, and most popular, is to use a paper in the desired color for one side of the card, and duplex (glue) it to the other side [like this, insert link].  Alternately, if you need a spot color that we cannot find a good match for in a colored paper, we can send floods out to be printed by an offset lithographer.

I have a drawing I’d like to use on my business card or stationery. Can you do this?2019-09-22T00:06:37+00:00

Many drawings translate very nicely to the letterpress print process; ink drawings and pencil drawings where tones are made using line work (as opposed to washes or shading) are the most successful.  If you send a scan or photograph of the drawing we are happy to advise on the relative printability of your image, and can digitize if needed as part of our custom design services.

Is a deposit required?2019-09-23T17:49:42+00:00

Yes, we require a 50% deposit before we begin work (designing and/or printing. Final payment due upon delivery of your completed suite.

What are my payment options?2019-09-23T17:55:20+00:00

We accept checks, credit cards, cash and interesting barter.

Do you have a minimum order?2019-09-21T23:44:01+00:00

No. We will print as few or as many as you want. However, the costs of setting up each color on press are the same whether you have us print one or two hundred (or two thousand).  The more you print, the cheaper it is on a per piece basis.

Can I rush my order?2019-09-23T17:43:05+00:00

Rush orders are accepted based on availability and the requirements of the project and may entail rush fees of 15-50% depending on circumstances. Please call to discuss specifics.

Can I bring in paper for you to print on?2019-09-22T00:00:55+00:00

You may provide paper if you wish, but we will generally need to see the paper before approving. We print on uncoated papers only. Also, please contact us prior to ordering any paper! We will need to let you know how much paper we need for your job, and what size. We require a certain amount of “overage” (extra paper0 for each job to allow for spoils and setting up the press. We also need a specific amount of space around your image in order to feed the sheet through our presses.

Can you print letterpress with no ink?2019-09-23T17:38:41+00:00

That’s called blind debossing and we love it! The deboss is a distinguishing feature of letterpress printing. A blind deboss prints your artwork without ink (or sometimes with transparent ink, which is not truly blind but almost the same effect) so it leaves a subtle, yet tangible impression in the paper. The effect is more successful with some graphics/typefaces/papers than others, so please consult with us if you would like to use this particular technique.

I’ve designed something in Word. Can you work with my file?2019-09-22T00:16:11+00:00

It is sometimes possible, but not as flexible as files generated in true design programs like Illustrator or InDesign.  If your art is one color and very simple, it may work if you can generate a PDF file from your Word document and send us that.  Before generating the PDF, be sure to turn everything to black.

How long does the process take?2019-09-21T23:56:22+00:00

Turnaround is typically around two weeks from receipt of final art, specs and a deposit.  Occasionally, during busy seasons, the turnaround can sometimes be longer.  Please let us know what your turnaround requirements are when requesting an estimate. We can sometimes offer rush printing for an additional fee.

What is the difference between letterpress, foilstamping, and digital printing?2019-09-23T17:40:39+00:00

Letterpress printing is the original printing technology, and is done by inking a raised (relief) surface and pressing it into the paper. This produces a debossed indent in the paper as a side effect of applying the ink, which is unique to this printing process.  Foil stamping is a letterpress process that uses heat to fuse metallic foil to paper, instead of ink.  Digital printing, also sometimes known as flat printing, is a high quality type of inkjet printing. While it has limitations in the type of paper it can print on and color matching, it is very flexible in the kinds of imagery it can print (photos and reproductions of watercolor or drawing are not a problem, unlike letterpress printing).  It is also relatively inexpensive at small quantities, compared to traditional printing processes.

Are your environmental practices “green”?2019-09-23T17:17:10+00:00

It is our belief that the whole reason the world is now in an environmental crisis is because of the gradual shift over the last couple hundred years away from small-scale, custom, handmade goods and towards cheap, mass-produced consumer goods.  Consequently, we believe the work that we do is inherently “green.”  Nevertheless, we are frequently asked about the materials we use, which do come from the land of large-scale manufacturing.

  • We print primarily on tree-free all cotton paper.  Read what Crane Paper has to say about the sources of cotton paper fiber here.
  • We source other high-quality commercial papers that come from FSC certified forests.  We also stock several recycled papers with high post-consumer content.
  • We do use soy-based inks, and our solvents are low- or zero-VOC.
  • We use steel-backed or plastic-backed printing plates that are recycled when they are no longer useful.
Who is responsible for proofreading?2019-09-23T17:34:43+00:00

While we have an astute eye for detail, our focus will be on getting your design just right. It is your responsibility to carefully review your proofs for errors, including spelling, layout, color assignments, dates and times, accuracy of directions, etc.  Please be sure to cross your t’s, dot your i’s and very thoroughly read your final proof. Have a friend or loved one lend an eye as well!  It’s easiest to spot errors when you haven’t seen the design before. Once you give your final approval, any errors are corrected at your expense.

Can you print on double-sided cards?2019-09-22T00:22:04+00:00

Double-sided printing is possible. However, it can be problematic with letterpress because of the show-through of the impression.  We can control how hard the type is impressed into the paper, but the paper is squeezed between the plate and the tympan, so any pressure applied to one side inevitably affects the other.   In general, double-sided should work with artwork that has light coverage where the elements don’t back each other up precisely.  Otherwise, compromises need to be made to balance the amount of impression with the amount it shows through on the other side.  Using heavier papers, or duplexing two papers together, can help, but doesn’t completely solve the problem.

Can you do rounded corners?2019-09-22T00:02:10+00:00

Yes, we can die cut cards with rounded corners. This requires a separate pass through the press for the cutting, and incurs an additional charge.  We have some rounded corner dies on hand in standard sizes, and if needed, custom dies can be made within a couple days.

How should my digital files be formatted?2019-09-23T17:14:49+00:00

We prefer native Illustrator or InDesign files, although PDFs produced in other programs can work. Please review the following notes on file preparation.

Please note: We may not be able to get a clean printing plate from pixel-based images or type. Vector artwork is always preferred! If you are uncertain whether pixel-based artwork will work, please provide vector art instead.

  • Please specify colors as spot colors in the file, either Pantone or any other color system.  This allows us to output your file as separations in the intended colors — if your colors are CMYK values, the file can only be separated into C-M-Y and K.
  • Please convert fonts to outlines, or else provide the font files with the art file.
  • If you have multiple items in a single document, please define the separate pieces with either crop marks, keylines or by using multiple artboards.
  • Any placed graphics should be high-resolution (600 dpi) bitmap TIFFs, or else turned to vectors. All type/fonts should be vectors.
  • Files must clearly show placement and sizing of artwork. If you need us to size or place the artwork within the document, design/layout time will be charged at $100/hour with a half-hour minimum.

We are always happy to look at files and give technical feedback if you have any doubts that the art is set up correctly.

Can I work with Dependable Letterpress if I do not live in the Bay Area?2019-09-23T01:20:20+00:00

Absolutely! While we focus on being the best local source for letterpress printing, we’re also thrilled to see our work travel around the country.  Communicating through telephone, email or Skype can be almost as good as working face to face. We can even mail samples when necessary, and are happy to receive color swatches in the mail. You might want to plan a little extra time into the process when working from afar.

How small can the type or artwork be?2019-09-22T00:18:15+00:00

Our plates can hold very fine, small type.  As typefaces can vary in size, it’s impossible to name a minimum point size.  If you feel you might be pushing the limits, please send a pdf and we’ll let you know if it works.  The biggest issue around very small type is whether it is placed with larger, heavier elements in the design.  It is difficult to keep fine type and other detailed linework clean and crisp when it is placed next to something that requires a lot more ink to look good.

What is the design process for custom designs?2019-09-22T05:07:19+00:00

Great question! Check out our onesheet describing the custom design process here!

Can you design my business card / logo for me?2019-09-22T04:37:40+00:00

Absolutely! We love creating custom designs. We get to know you & work with you one-on-one to craft your ideal aesthetic. Through 3 rounds of proofing, we’ll tailor your design to perfection.