Stationery artist with letterpress questions

Hello! I am a stationery artist looking to do one of two things:

1) Hire a letter press manufacturer to perform my actual printing or
2) Learn to letterpress myself

Any advice for someone who is new in the industry as to where to start? Should I outsource it at first and then learn the letterpress trade? If I need to outsource it, how do I decide which letterpress companies to partner with…in terms of quality, price, reputation, etc.

Which route do other online stationery companies primarily take? Thanks in advance for your help!

*Thanks for the spelling correction.

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You mean…stationery? Or you don’t move?

You mean you may want to learn to do letterpress printing, not letterpress. Also stationery, as in paper products, is spelled with an e.

Don’t feel bad, we live for these these kinds of corrections! ;-)

You may want to take a letterpress class to see if you enjoy the process itself. It’s a big investment and if you don’t like actually doing it, you’ll be much better off having the work down by others. Not that I mean to be discouraging, just practical.

Selling the products and actually making them are two different things that may or may not find cheerful residence in one person. It’s not about what others do but what you enjoy and want to do. You simply may not be into standing in front of a press feeding hundreds, even thousands of sheets, mixing ink, cleaning the rollers, etc. That’s OK, a lot of people aren’t. But the people who are making it work are really into the process as well as the product. You’ll want to either be into it yourself or take advantage of the services of those who are.


Front Room Press
Milford, NJ

so happens that I’m a veteran in the craft of what I’ll call “the letterpress wars”……… of 25 years. An “apprentice” out of college that learned stamping and embossing, and now printing, on the trusty American-made Kluge Letterpress.

I’ll wholeheartedly agree with Rich that selling, and namely DESIGNING the pieces, vs actually making them rarely do find a “cheerful residence” in one person. The whole thought of letterpress printing brings up images of a simpler time. However, the actual act of putting those delicate images, true to color, with a desirable impression, is essentially an art in and of itself. The Roycrofters had it right:

“The Lyfe so short, The Craft so Long to Lyrne”

After a lifetime of work in the craft, I can vouch that it requires……. a passion, and tenacious spirit, to gain proficiency. It gets in your bones and before you realize it … becomes you!

So happens I’m extending my lifetime of letterpress passion from foil/embossing to printing and have recently registered my private press name in the Registry, and am looking for a designer to print for. Perhaps we could collaborate?


First off, whereabouts are you and what experience do you have?

Re your post:

1) Hire a letter press manufacturer to perform my actual printing.
a Mano Press would be interested in your proposition to be a trade printer

2) Learn to (Print) letterpress myself.
a Mano Press is teaching the art of quality letterpress printing



As a commercial letterpress printer, here are my two cents as per your query.

1) As far as hiring, you will find many printers willing and able, as am I. But speaking from experience you may be disapointed with your outlay of money. Many designers who tout themselves as printers want their actual printer to do all the work, but they want to make all the money.

After doing this for a couple jobs, you will then -

2) Get your own press, and learn to print yourself.
I have seen this formula a couple times and it produced some amazing self taught printers. It can be done. But learn the history, get a mentor, get hands on experience and do it for more than just the money.

and I suppose the real answer to Rag Doll’s question will be found in the answer to one of these two questions:

1. does she want to be a stationery artist who designs AND MARKETS the work, or

2. does she want to do it as an art, for herself in her spare time, for personal satisfaction?

I understand both realms, as I operate in both.

Good Luck, Doll!

Thanks for the replies. It’s fascinating to hear the perspectives of such skilled letterpress artists! I agree that one must possess a passion for letterpress printing. I don’t know if I have the passion yet…it’s too soon to tell. I’d love to take a course to increase my level of exposure & deepen my understanding around the processes of the product. If I love it, great! I’ll see where that leads me. If not, I can outsource it to other folks like yourselves & be done with it.

I’m based in Houston. I’ve Google’d potential courses in Houston, but I can’t seem to find any. I want to learn the history and definitely get some hands on experience, preferably through a class. Thought anyone?

Sjadams, good distinction. The answer is #1. I want to design and market my own work.

I understand that there is a really nice printing museum in Houston. See if you can hook up with that and see if there are classes/seminars there. I think that this is a fairly active museum facility, I just can’t recall the name offhand.

Good luck, Doll, on the only element I left out: Production.

I’m sure there’s lots of quality folks out there to fill in the educational gaps. For me, it’s more simple than museums or books or blogs. It’s like riding a bike. Get one, and see if you can stay up! Or if the whole investment in TIME (and of course money and tears) gets you to where you expect to be. Without deadlines or crying brides, you’re free(er) to roam!