Frequently Asked Questions

What kinds of printing projects do you take on?

We welcome unusual & challenging projects, but we also love the beauty and simplicity of a straightforward, high-quality letterpress print. Our past projects include:

  • event invitations
  • announcements
  • business stationery
  • art editions
  • posters
  • postcards and mailers
  • product packaging and tags
  • fold-outs, booklets and pamphlets
  • custom greeting cards
  • personal stationery
  • annual reports

What’s the best way to contact you about my project?

Give us a call at 718-596-3520 or email us at letterpress@swayspace.com. If you are coming to us with your own design and would like a rough estimate, please provide the following for each printed piece:

  • A pdf of the design (a rough version is fine)
  • Quantity needed
  • Size of piece
  • Number of ink colors (black ink and blind deboss each count as an ink color)
  • Type of paper stock 
  • Additional services requested (e.g. edge painting, die cutting, etc.)

We’ll get back to you right away with an initial estimate.

Do you offer design services?

Yes. We encourage everyone interested in custom design to come in for a studio visit. These are informal meetings made by appointment in which we discuss what you’re looking for, answer your questions and show you samples of our work. We follow up with an itemized estimate and proposed schedule for your project.

If you’d like to get a preliminary estimate, call or email us with as much of the following information as possible and we’ll get back to you with a rough estimate:

  • Approximate dimensions and quantities of pieces you’ll need.
  • Number of ink colors.
  • Any other relevant details (2-sided printing, envelope lining, edge painting, etcetera)

We charge separately for design services.

What services does your printshop offer?

  • Design
  • Letterpress printing
  • Edge painting
  • Corner rounding
  • Scoring
  • Envelope lining
  • Limited binding and finishing

Additional services are available through our partners.

What kind of printing equipment do you have? Are there size limitations?

  • Vandercook #4 Proofing Press
  • Vandercook SP-20 Proofing Press
  • 8 x 12 C&P platen press
  • 10 x 15 C&P platen press
  • Challenge Guillotine
  • Board Shear
  • Selected wood type
  • Metal type

Maximum sheet size: 19½ × 28″
Maximum plate size: 18 × 22″

How much do wedding invites cost?

A basic event invitation suite (comprised of an invitation, RSVP card, RSVP envelope and outer envelope) typically ranges between $1,300 and $2,000 for 100–175 letterpress printed sets. If you would like us to design your invitations, that runs an additional $75 per hour. After speaking more about your project, we’re happy to provide a custom estimate.

If you have a design and are looking for a high quality letterpress printer, we're happy to work with you. Prices start at around $600 for one hundred 5"x7" pieces; give us a call or send us an email for a custom quote.

How much do business cards cost?

Letterpress printed business cards start at $625 (this does not include design time, if applicable). Factors such as the number of ink colors, the type of paper stock, the quantity of cards, single versus double-sided printing, and extras like edge painting and corner rounding all affect the price of your cards.

The price per card goes down considerably as your quantity increases. For example, a card that would cost $625 for a quantity of 250– or $2.50 per card– is only $.75 per card when ordered in a quantity of 1000.

If you would like us to design your cards, please get in touch so we can work up an accurate estimate for you and arrange a time for you to come in and discuss your project.

Do you have business card templates?

We do not have templates, although you’re welcome to come in to look at samples of cards in our portfolio that can be customized for your use. This would still incur a design fee charged at $75 per hour, but would be significantly less expensive than asking us to design from scratch.

How long does the design/printing process take?

Design of a wedding invitation set typically takes 3-6 weeks from the time we receive your go-ahead and a 50% deposit. Once a final design is approved, printing takes approximately 4 weeks. If you can plan 2–3 months ahead of the date you’d like to receive your invites, that’s ideal. Don’t forget to schedule time for envelopes to be addressed!

Can you describe the design process for custom wedding invitations?

  1. We will first have a meeting with you so you can review our past work, look at paper samples, and discuss the specifics of your project. It really helps if you come prepared with any visual inspiration and design ideas. Anything can be a good starting point, from images of your wedding locale to a mid-century poster design you’re loving.
  2. After meeting, we’ll email you an estimate.
  3. If you’d like to move forward, we ask for a 50% deposit.
  4. We begin working on rough designs. Often we’ll send you a few rough mock-ups first before going too far with any one idea. All designs are emailed to you in PDF format for your feedback along the way.
  5. We’ll go back and forth, each time getting closer to the imagery, font choices, and colors you’d like in your final design.
  6. Once a final design is approved and you’ve selected ink colors, we’ll have printing plates made and move forward with printing.
  7. About 4 weeks later, you’ll have your invites!

Is the design process different for other types of projects?

Not so different, but the process may change a bit depending on the size and scope of your project. 

I’m a designer and already have a design. Will you print it?

Gladly. Email it along with as much info as you can provide (size, # colors, how many you need), and we’ll get back to you right away.

In what format should I send my digital files?

  • Adobe Illustrator or Illustrator-compatible files are preferred (.ai, .pdf or .eps). InDesign files are also acceptable.
  • Outline all fonts (Type > Create Outlines).
  • Include crop marks.
  • Set files in solid, uncoated Pantone spot colors or 100% black (there should be no process colors in your file). 
  • Vector images are preferred. Photographic images should be bitmapped or embedded.
  • All files should be at 100% scale.

What about fine lines and small dots?

We can only guarantee a line weight of .35 pt and up. However, there are some circumstances in which a plate can hold thinner lines. We’ll be happy to look at your design and assess its suitability for the letterpress process.

Dots should be at least 1.25 points in diameter. This includes dots on the ‘i’s and periods in your typeface.

For some great letterpress design tips, check out this page put together by our friends at Boxcar Press: http://www.boxcarpress.com/letterpress-design-tips/

And don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions!

I’d like to schedule a press check. How do I arrange this and what can I expect?

We encourage artists and designers to come in for at least one press check to approve ink color and to make decisions about the depth of impression and ink coverage.

We can give you an approximate date for the press check upon receipt of your digital files and deposit. We will confirm a specific date and time within a few days. You will likely need to be available in the early afternoon on a weekday, but we are happy to work with you in advance to schedule a time that fits your schedule.

At the press check you will be shown several options for impression and ink coverage along with an explanation of the technical factors involved in your project. We will continue to explore options with you on the press to achieve a satisfying outcome. We’ll ask you to sign off on an approved proof, at which point you’re free to go.

Can you match an existing printed piece or a Pantone color?

Yes to both.

If you are bringing us a printed sample, keep in mind that the paper color and the printing process (offset versus letterpress) can affect the appearance of the ink.

If you would like us to match a Pantone color, just make sure you look at a physical uncoated Pantone swatch book when you’re choosing your color. We cannot match a Pantone color from a computer screen, as the appearance varies from screen to screen.

If the exact color is important for your project, make sure to schedule a press check to approve the color on press.

I know letterpress printing can be expensive. What can I do to make it more affordable?

Here are some basic tips for keeping your costs down:

Order the largest quantity you think you’ll use. Because the set up of the press is quite labor-intensive in comparison to the actual print time, high quantities command less cost per piece.

Keep the number of colors to a minimum. Each color is printed from a separate plate and requires a separate run on the press. A 2-color project takes twice the setup and print time as a standard 1-color.

Avoid large, solid areas of color, especially in conjunction with fine lines and/or small text. Large solid areas of color are much more difficult to print and often incur an extra charge. If a large solid area appears along with fine lines or text in the same color, we will likely make separate plates for each. This will incur an extra plate charge and the cost of an additional press run.

Don’t hesitate to contact us to discuss the specific issues related to your project.