color

Beef up the bottom line with flat cards for the holidays

toolsMost of us creative types are all about the design, the message and the media. We aren’t crazy about the math, it’s usually not in a Top 10 priorities spot when we are brainstorming. Here’s the thing though, understanding the bottom line is kind of, you know, crucial. Flat cards from StationeryHQ are a great way to be well-compensated for your talent and efforts.

If you are a wholesale customer, a two-sided, full color, flat A7 card will start at  $.43 each. So for the sake of argument, let’s say you order 50 for a total cost of $21.50 + shipping. Flat cards on fine papers sell on major retail sites for OVER $2.00 each. That’s $100 for a set of 50, leaving you with $79.50 per order. Do 10 orders like that per week (pretty easy workload, right?) and you’re making about $3,000 a month without breaking a sweat. If you did the same number of cards/orders with folded cards, your margin would be closer to $2,000 per month and you had to work a little harder to set up the artwork. See how fun the math is now?

A few more $ tips:

• Requiring a minimum of 25 or 50 as opposed to 10 gets you more profit with exactly the same amount of work.

• Charge a premium for extras like rounded corners, still no extra work for you but a sassier product and better margin.

• Offer incentives for large orders, many customers will “order up” when they know they are close to a discount or promotion.

• Encourage your clients to order early to save on shipping costs. And so you can enjoy the holidays.

Cheers!

CMYK – The More You Know

Around these parts, we like four colors. Not three and certainly not one. EW. Stationery HQ files should be set up with CMYK, not RGB or Pantone/PMS colors.

To make it easy, we made a visual guide to show you where to convert colors using three different Adobe programs.

InDesign:

color_ID

Illustrator:

color_AI

Photoshop:

color_PS

When in doubt about how to set up your files, please check out our File Setup Guidelines.

 Note: We’re using the Adobe Creative Cloud version of these programs, so they might look slightly different than yours. 

Color: WTH?

What The Hue? Designers love color. We love love love it. And it makes us want to pull our hair out when we can’t get the color we see on our monitor to match the color we see on paper. There are many variables that affect color: our monitor settings (which will never match our clients settings), the tone of the paper we print on (not all white papers are created equal) and color blindness (for real, 8% of men and .5% of women are color blind). 

Color test on different papers.

Color test on different papers.

Here are some tips to help you get the best results and make peace with what you can’t control.

Let’s start with what you see on your screen. 

– Apple monitors tend to be lighter overall than PC monitors. So if you’re on a Mac and sending digital proofs to someone on a PC, they are likely seeing a darker version. Your only tool for dealing with this is knowledge. Optimize your monitor settings and talk your client through it if they say “it looks dark.”

– RGB will ALWAYS look more intense and pure than printed CMYK. It has to do with RGB colors coming from light and CMYK colors coming from surface material. Here’s a good article for color geeks.

Here’s what we know about color in print:

– Paper can be considered a color. If you choose a natural or ivory stock, you are adding up to 10% yellow to your color mix. For the truest color, pick the brightest white stock. Our brightest whites are the #110 uncoated (it has a cool tone), Savoy (warm tone) and Felt (warm tone).

same CMYK values printed on Savoy White and Savoy Natural

Same CMYK values printed on Savoy White and Savoy Natural

– Uncoated papers will soak up more ink than coated or gloss stocks, giving them a less vibrant appearance. So if you want really bright color on uncoated paper, you gotta saturate it – give it more ink than you think you need.

– CMYK digital printing is not perfect. You won’t get the same result on different days like you might if you used Pantone colors (which are the equivalent of a can of paint). There are only about a million variables that affect digital printing.

For the best results, I have printed my own color swatches (which I update by trend or season) on multiple stocks so I have a good idea of the difference between my screen and my print jobs. I use the DIY product option on StationeryHQ.com so I can fit lots of decent sized color swatches.

My color swatches rank right up there with pictures of my kids in my studio.

My color swatches rank right up there with pictures of my kids in my studio.

If you are designing a stationery suite, try using complementary colors or adding texture into your system to break it up. Matchy-matchy is getting kind of old school and then you won’t be so stressed when your coral invite looks 1% lighter than your coral RSVP card. 

Please post your questions, suggestions or photos of great solutions on our facebook wall, we all appreciate the extra help.

Trends: What’s Hot in Design Now, part 1



Pantone-screen-shotAll the designers we know have a unique way of seeing the world—they notice fine details in typography, color, texture, pattern. And that visual inspiration comes together when they’re crafting their designs in paper.

The Write Stuff recently chatted with one of our favorite designers, Erin Sarpa of Simon+Kabuki and the blog Designer Droppings, about the cool trends she’s seeing right now.

Erin focused on four key design trends, and we’ll start with the first two here. Use these ideas to inspire your own design work!

Typography

Type is at an all-time high, Erin says, in terms of its prominence, diversity, accessibility and style. Look around, and you’ll see a huge trend in type as art—where lettering isn’t just for communication, it’s the decoration. The buzz-y “Keep Calm and Carry On” poster design is just one example of that; you’ll also see beautiful typographical treatments of song lyrics, quotes and people’s names. Erin’s also loving the trend of hand-drawn lettering and highly customized type, and interesting combinations of typefaces.

Great sources of type inspiration:

Typography.com  — this website shows off the gorgeous fonts from foundry Hoefler & Frere-Jones, including some typefaces originally designed for Martha Stewart and now available to the public. You’ll recognize H&F-J’s lovely typeface Archer — it’s everywhere right now.

LetterheadFonts.com  — a great source for super-stylish lettering (and for visual inspiration), this site offers fonts for sale and shows a gallery of their type in action.

Letterhead-Fonts-screen-image

Color

Erin predicts that a deep, rich red is going to be the “big, gigantic color” in the coming season — in fact, she’s seeing lots of muted jewel tones like dusky navy and pine-y green or olive. These rich accent colors are being paired with interesting neutrals, like not-quite-grey and not-quite black. For inspiration, Erin suggests looking at trendy nail polish colors: greys and super-dark, almost-black purples are hot right now.

In papergoods, she’s seeing lots of muted pastels: soft pinks, peaches and warm creamy tones that convey a vintage feel. Also on-trend? Metallics — but now, they’re warmer, like gold and bronze instead of cool silver. (Talk to us about metallics: Stationery HQ can create beautiful metallic foil enhancements for your designs.)

Great sources of color inspiration:

Pantone Color Forecast  — of course, Pantone is the design world’s go-to source for all things color, and their seasonal fashion color forecast is a must-see for print designers. Fashion is a great predictor of color trends, as designers reveal new collections as much as a year ahead of season.

Pantone-screen-shot

ColourLovers.com  — this website and community for designers is all about color; users can post color palettes and find inspiration from a huge library of color combos.

Colour-Lovers-screen-shot

Where do you turn for visual inspiration to fuel your papergoods designs? We’d love to know about your favorites; please share links here!

 

Prepare Your Files for Custom Digital Printing

We receive a lot of questions from our customers regarding how to properly prepare and upload files to StationeryHQ to take full advantage of our digital printing services. Whether you’re creating custom note cards, customized greeting cards, digital letterpress stationery, wedding invitations or other personalized printed items, we can help you create high-quality products with your perfect design touch.

You can use our easy templates and online ordering system to create your own personalized designs. Want even more creative control over your custom stationery project? Not a problem. We can work with your unique designs, including die cutting, digital letterpress and more.

Whichever production option you choose, just follow these five simple tips as you prepare your files for digital printing to ensure your personalized paper goods are printed exactly the way you want them—every time.

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1. Sizing your artwork for digital printing. Make sure your file includes a bleed area on all sides. StationeryHQ requires at least 0.05 inches of bleed (0.125 inches is preferred) on each side to allow for trimming. Even if your project design is unprinted on all four edges, your production file should still include a bleed area.

2. Setting colors for proper printing. Convert all colors to CMYK—including PMS, spot colors and RGB—and make sure your document mode is set to CMYK. Please specify flat black (C=0, M=0, Y=0, B=100) instead of rich black. Any heavily saturated color should be under a combined CMYK value of 240.

3. Including your fonts. To ensure that your custom stationery project prints perfectly on our digital presses, please embed or outline all fonts.

4. Preparing file set-up. Don’t add “printer’s marks” such as crop marks, bleed marks or color bars. These will increase the document size, and you will not be able to upload your file, or your project will print incorrectly.

5. Saving a document for digital printing. Always save your document as PDF/ X-1A. This will flatten all the file layers correctly for our presses.

Our customer service team is available to help if you have any questions about preparing your project files for digital printing. Please contact info@stationeryhq.com for assistance.