Naming a private press


I’ve been printing for about two years now, and now that not everything is turning out smudgy or over-inked or smashed any more, it’s time I gave my little outfit a name so I can make a prop card and be all official-like and what-have-you. But for some reason, I am completely blocked about this. It was easier to name my kids, for petesake.

Perhaps hearing how some of you arrived at your press names would be inspirational. Please share your press-naming tales—what made you pick the name you did?

(p.s. Clothdog is just a username I carried over from sewing forums…not a contender.)

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An acquaintance had a similar problem; he ended up calling his press The Innominate Press.

I named my press The Paper Airplane Press after I started collecting books and ephemera about paper airplanes. My first publication was about paper airplanes (before I had my first printing press) and I drew a pressmark somewhat patterned after the trophy given out at the 1967 Scientific American Paper Airplane Competition. The name stuck, but I haven’t printed anything about paper airplanes since. Still would like to do the definitive bibliography, though.

Don’t know why Clothdog isn’t a contender, either as one word or two. It would also work as the name of a pub. Distinctive, and probably unique (Believe it or not there is a Paper Airplane Press in addition to mine.) with lots of possibilities for a nifty pressmark.

I named my press Inky Lips Letterpress. Since the proper way to print is to kiss the paper with ink, hence the name and tag line “Kissing the paper with inky lips”.

What drives you, what are you passionate about, and something else I just can’t remember …. Oh, any favorite numbers?


Great topic, Clothdog. I’m always curious about how people come up with these wonderful press names. I took a prosaic approach and named my press after my neighborhood: Lunada Bay Letterpress. Of course I may not have done that had I lived in Hackensack. I have a literary imprint, though, that’s a little more imaginative — Pelican’s Way Press — named so because squadrons of pelicans regularly fly over my studio. It also refers to one of my favorite books, Swann’s Way. Some day Pelican’s Way may even publish something!


It’s always interesting to hear where company names come from. Love Inky Lips, Lunada Bay and Pelican’s Way!

I am drawn to the beauty of latin words and their corresponding, not always obvious meaning.

My company name, Bellus Letterpress, comes from the latin word meaning beautiful. This originates from not only the beauty of our design and printing, but also the beauty in the people and world around us.

Here are some tools at wordlab to get the creative juices flowing if latin isn’t your thing.

Good Luck!



These are great names and stories—more! More!

I’ve collected cuts of horses for a long time (that’s how I got into printing, actually—wanting to learn how to use this collection), and I’ve been trying to incorporate either horses in general, or the name of my beloved horse Sunny, in my press name somehow. But so far, every name I’ve thought of has come up taken, or twee. (Too twee, or not too twee? That is the question.)

You have given me some other ideas…many thanks. I hope others will chime in here!

These are awesome and clever! My press is named after my grandfather. He was a really wonderful man.

His name is an old name Harvey and very masculine so I wanted to put something feminine with it. I created a list of words to describe him and picked the most feminine one.

Now I am Sweet Harvey Letterpress.

A name is something you have to live with forever so it is good to have personal meaning in whatever you choose. From a marketing standpoint it is also helpful to have a story to share - great conversation starter with clients.

I named mine Pillowface Press, after a leftover piece from a silly installation that I did back in collage. It was a pillow with a hollow mask attached at the front, that I didn’t have a heart to throw away (just then) so I had it sitting in a pile of likewise useless junk in the corner of the room.

You are all so lucky! I envy your Anglo-American tradition of exciting and funny press names. In Denmark the tradition is so poor! Normally the printing offices were named after the proprietor or the city – to an example: Hansens Bogtrykkeri or Holsted Bogtrykkeri (Bogtrykkeri means printing office).
When we build the new workshop in our garden I had to find a name for it. I considered The Bauer Press - some of my favorite fonts is either from Bauersche Giesserei or designed by Fr. Bauer. Another name I considered was Villa Camilla Press – after my daughter and our house. But I am Danish, and it is not possible to translate these names to proper Danish, so the Anglo-American tradition with a name including the word “Press” did not fit well in this situation. After some time hard thinking I decided only to use my name with the title bogtrykker (printer) and then the English description of my duty - in a time with only a handful of letterpress printers in Denmark.

Gott grüß die Kunst

Jens Jørgen Hansen, bogtrykker
Workshop for Letterpress Printing & Type Studies
Holsted, Denmark

Here a link to some photos from my workshop

I named my press Three Sheets Letterpress. I love images of clotheslines and I regularly enjoy drinking with friends, so the name is very fitting. I think I spent a few weeks brainstorming names and finally went to Barnes and Nobles to look through some books on idioms. As soon as I saw it, I knew it was the perfect name. However, when I looked online, someone had already bought the url “” and was willing to sell it to me for $2000. Yeah, right!

I remember having a full sheet or two of handwritten possible names for my press. Always trying to boil it down to the essentials. I finally landed on The Foolproof Press, not because I was anywhere near perfect, but basically because i was simply a fool with a proof press.

Be sure to check the Registry of Private Press Names here on the Briar Press site to make sure that whatrever you decide on is not already being used by someone else.

I am going through the same challenge. I have several in mind but none have stole the show, well one has but my wife doesn’t like it.

Your love of horses has brought several to my mind;
Maneiac Press
Flowing Mane Press
Horse Tails
Trotter Press
Old Paint Press

Good Luck!


I obsess over things like this because I always want to “get it right’ the first time which means I don’t want to suddenly find something I like better a month later and wish I had waited or thought of it earlier. Here are some of the general things I did:

1. Looked online and in books for lists of press names, websites of presses, etc. I read as many historical books on printing, especially about newspapers in the west to find press names. I didn’t want to copy anything or even modify it. I did this to get an historical perspective and general formats and ideas. For example, I wasn’t sure if the name should be “The XXXX Press” or “the XXXX Press”. See the subtle difference? Hey, I told you I was obsessive. But I like little details like this.

2. I came up with some ideas and sat with a pencil and paper writing them out. Then again with variations. All of this was done in the context of thinking about certain things: what kinds of things did I think I was going to print; what kind of character would my shop have or did I want it to have; what kinds of local, personal, familial, or other such things might I incorporate to make the name meaningful and tie it into something?

3. I also searched to see if anything or anyone else had the name I had nominally (no pun intended) settled on. But happily there were no Front Room sushi shops, pizza parlours, discount record stores, or whatever. And no Front Room Press. At least I didn’t find any. Now I’ll probably get emails about various sightings. Sigh.

4. Once I narrowed things down to what I thought I wanted I asked all of the printer friends I knew what they thought of it. I asked non-printer friends I knew what they thought of it. Then I left the whole thing alone for several weeks to let the idea sink in. Then I decided that was the one I wanted. Then I let it alone for a while longer. All of this was to let me get used to the idea and see if something else didn’t come up in the meantime. I did have a few but they didn’t stack up. See? Obsessive.

I finally took the plunge and printed my first business cards. So far I’ve never had second thoughts. OK, now for the specifics:

I chose Front Room Press for the basic reason that my shop is in my living room. Or more accurately, is my living room. In other words, I no longer have a living room. I think you can see from what I wrote above about the kinds of things I was looking for why this worked for me. For one thing, it’s the kind of name that even if some day the shop ends up in a different room, it won’t really matter. A front room can be the front room of a parlor, a store, an office, whatever. It’s out in front, on the street, in your face……AHHHH. OK, I got carried away. But it does have that personal element of where it all started. A nice cozy shop in a front room where the mysterious and black art of printing is practised. What does one see inside? Wonderful things…

Oh, boy.

It also isn’t outlandish or bizarre and so ties in nicely with my historic sensibility. I think one might easily see it in on a building in a 19th century photo just as easily as on my blog. I also like the sound of it. It’s easy to say and has a strong presense, I think. Front Room Press.

At some point I might come up with a clever way to put F, R, and P together in a monogram. I have a few ideas. OK, that wasn’t a consideration at the time, but not a bad idea, eh?

Personally, I’m much too traditional for a name like Cloth Dog Press for my press. But I do really, really like it and I think you should seriously consider it. But give yourself time. Obsess away.


Front Room Press
Milford, NJ

Winking Cat! What about you? Inquiring minds want to know.

It is both encouraging and helpful to know that others have placed as much importance on naming their presses as it seems to deserve to me. Thanks for telling your tales. I’d love to hear more…this is fun.

p.s. Rich, were we separated at birth? You sound like you could be my long-lost, equally obsessive brother. (And I see you like Rex Stout too. Viva Archie!)

Now Barbara, on the other hand, we are clearly from different gene pools…I read “Swann’s Way” and wanted to have myself humanely put down halfway through. Still, Pelican’s Way is a lovely name. And your beautifully organized shop is an inspiration in itself (and more proof we aren’t related!).

Hey Clothdog, try the audio version of Swann’s Way. That way you can’t tell that the sentences are half a page long. As a printer I shouldn’t be saying this, but some writing comes through much better through the ears than the eyes.


When finishing up my printmaking degree, I was making a lot of images with shepherds and staffs. At the same time, I was discovering the joys of binding my own books. I doodled for most of a shift of work one day, and Bound Staff Press was the result. I don’t do that many shepherd prints any more, but will likely never give up the name.
Now, If I could just find a job where I could spend the entire day drawing.


I too am having difficulty trying to come with a name. Thus far I have a long list of ideas but none of them seem to be “the one.” The top contenders thus far are:

Parnell Press (named after my grandpa’s middle name)
Snowstorm Press (because I drove in a snowstorm to pick up my press)
Alarm Clock Press (because I collect vintage clocks)
Fuzztone Press (because I also collect lots of records)

But I don’t know if I’m really sold….any opinions?


My fiance and I just named our “company,” and we really like what we came up with.

Graytin Press

“Gray” is from her last name, “Tin” is from mine. Additionally, she designed a logo that is a gray tin cup. It may not be as in depth as some of yours, but we like it all the same! :)

Since you collect clocks you might consider Mainspring Press which can have a double meaning.


Front Room Press
Milford, NJ

dameling: I vote for Alarm Clock Press—love the deadline fury it conjures! Very printing-appropriate, besides having a personal meaning for you.

Close runner-up would be Snowstorm Press. Snowstorm is a great, evocative word with lots of drama, yet a dash of coziness too—a crackling fire and a cuppa while the blizzard rages beyond the door.

My current front-runner in my own pressname-O-rama is Wonder Horse Press—you know, like Buster the Wonder Horse, Sparky the Wonder Horse, etc. To me, it suggests a valiant old plug that still might just have an amazing trick or two up his/her sleeve. Plus, my Sunny really is a wonder horse, of course. Opinions welcome…this might be the one unless someone talks me out of it!

I wanted my press to point to something beyond me; One Manger Press is an allusion to the “one manger” that the world will see one day, when the lion eats hay w/ the ox.

Some assumptions about faith, here, right? But whatever.

Please excuse my obsessive nitpicking but I believe it’s “the lion will eat straw like the ox”. Or to put it in context:

The cow will feed with the bear,
their young will lie down together,
and the lion will eat straw like the ox.

The infant will play near the hole of the cobra,
and the young child put his hand into the viper’s nest.

They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain,
for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.

Isaiah 11:7-9.

Wonder Horse Press might lead to a nifty business logo, eh? Ladies and gentlemen: the world famous; the one; the only….!


Front Room Press
Milford, NJ

Oh I really like the Wonder Horse Press and it lends itself nicely to self promotion just as Rich said :)

And thanks for the comments about my press names. I was leaning towards Alarm Clock Press the more I thought about it. Now to come up with a logo/pressmark!

That is good, and has good logo possibilities too. Perhaps some kind of anthropomorphic alarm clock with large bells on top. Your business slogan can be:

“Even a broken clock is right twice a day. Give us a try!”


Front Room Press
Milford, NJ


Interesting about Moser. But had he chosen his name as the press name that might have been a bit presumptuous as a start up in the fine press book world.

When I was taking coursework with Walter Hamady the students were all required to come up with press names, so I picked a nickname my father used to call me. I actually called him up to ask him what it meant. When he explained “a little boy who has his own mind about how to do things” I was committed. Also because it was the only intimate moment I ever had with my father.




Well, though retired, he is still alive and kicking, last I heard. An interesting teacher. Didactic and revealing as example. Plus, the best entertainer in the biz. He did a slide show once at a conference without slides. Best slide show ever.


Rich; Nit-picking is fine; Ox eat from a manger, so in my mind, why wouldn’t a lion? If it’s big enough the cow & bear can grab a mouthful, too, and I’ll fork the stuff in there. (thanks for the words re: the site, btw)

Gerald; your story is neat.

Dameling & Clothdog; whatever you choose, be confidant with it! It’s yours forever! Amazing!


I was just looking for an excuse to cite the whole passage, which I like. But where’s the ibex? Poor beast…


Front Room Press
Milford, NJ

Recommendations not Rules: Take all the time you need to get it right. If you listen for the name and and be patient, it will come to you (perhaps when you least expect it) in response to thoughts you have made. Don’t be afraid to change your name over time as circumstances change. I have read, some Native Americans had an infant name, another as a child, and an adult name after their personality developed. Perhaps the personality of your press is not ready for an adult name, so go with a name that will work in transition. Generally speaking, I enjoy names that evoke an idea rather than a name of a place or object. Make sure the name you choose sounds and looks (as it will appear printed) proper when used in conjunction with the word “PRESS” which will almost always follow it.


Did you decide on something yet? just wondering…


How about CardsPress?

i even have a website ready for you or anyone in similar situation;) - Business Cards Inspiration

After a professional life as a theatre director, much of it with Shakespeare, I discovered letterpress and the joy of bringing words and images to life — without having to work with a phalanx of fellow artists. Given the imperfect results that still plague me after five years and yet the continuing amazement I feel each time I pull a proof, my press name — Rough Magic Press — still fits. And it draws from Prospero’s gorgeous speech in “The Tempest” in which he speaks of “this rough magic”, the stuff with which he too played with words as he created his “brave new world.”

In the early 70’s much of my equipment was coming
from the dumpsters and alleys behind Cincinnati’s
many downtown letterpress job shops. And I didn’t
mind probing through the stacks of stock trim looking
for better quality bonds and rag content stuff.
It had to pass the lunch smell test, of course. Izzy’s
pastrami & kniches could ruin a few outside sheets
leaving the interior layers in tact. The Skyline chili
could be trimmed from tighter edges… usually.

I hadn’t thought much about naming the shop. I only
reefered to it as “the studio”. Then I happened on the
Thomas Nast pen-line illustration of Boss Tweed as
a ragpicker. It was like looking into a mirror
—even down to the thrift-store thread stylings.
It was a glimpse of the real—
clearly I was a ragpicker.

I may as well embrace it.

Calvert Guthrie
Ragpicker Press
KC Center for the Ink & Paper Arts

Another naming question. I see Devil’s Tail also uses Halfpenny Press. Is there any etiquette about having two or more press names?

After the long death struggle to choose a name outlined above, I picked Quizzical Press because I love the word, its meaning, and the way it looks (capital Q! Two z’s! Great letters in all faces! What’s not to like?).

But I also wish I could use Wonder Horse Press for the little stuff I print for horsey friends, using my horse cut collection.

Can I just…use it? If so, do I need to make another prop card for that press name?

thanks from

p.s. I do not print for anything but the love of it (not a business proposition, in other words).

Check out our blog My wife has a cute story about how we named our letterpress business.

I had been struggling with the same thing, naming my shop that I’m opening in the next month. I won’t give it away just yet, but I finally found just the right candidate that was suitably distinct, odd and not at all precious sounding.

Find something that you love and can embrace. You’re really the only one that has to love it. Even better, the more unique it is, the more likely you’ll find an available URL.

As for secondary names, I would think it depends on what you are producing. I don’t know the Cranky Pressman personally, but I love that name. Were he printing fine art books, then maybe he’d need a secondary name to publish under. But I don’t think there are any hard and fast rules here.

I had three full sheets of names before deciding on Poppy Letterpress. My favourite dog growing up was called Poppy and I’d always liked the name. Plus, it conjured up logo ideas in my head (even though it took me a lot longer to come up with one than it did to name the press!). I find that it’s a little catchy and people remember it. The downside is that people address ME as Poppy, thinking it’s just my name. Eh. I’ll answer to anything ;)

So what about Winking Cat Press? ;)

Actually, I didn’t name it…. a newspaper writer coined the name. Many years ago, my friends and I began publishing material that was quite controversial for the day…. in the form of posters, broadsides, and limited run books. We had some of the best artists and designers in the world working with us, and the finished products were outstanding. We distributed them freely….. giving away far more than we sold.

Unfortunately, printing controversial material didn’t exactly pay the bills and my paying customers were, and still are, VERY conservative corporate and government types who would take a dim view of our rocking the boat. So to avoid losing them as customers, we simply didn’t put our name on any of our controversial work.

After a while, our art work became very well known nationwide and our media started asking “who is printing these posters?”. One of the local newspaper writers wrote: “…so what we have here is a group of artists, sitting back like a big old winking cat, laughing at the establishment.”

Just as a lark, we added “courtesy of Winking Cat Press” to our next poster….. and viola! A name was born!

So there you have it: Winking Cat Press is an alter-ego….. and it will never, ever be revealled who is under the mask! LOL….

Great story. Not exactly a press name story here but…..

In the 1960’s or 70’s there was a lot of turmoil within the Amalgamated Printer’s Association. To get into the fray, but not be identified as the source, three members colluded and applied for a membership under the name The Great Pildic! It was accepted, a membership number was issued, and they would submit things to the monthly bundle using that name and remaining absolutely anonymous. It took me years to find out who they were and that secret still remains with me as one of them is still an active member.

Hello everyone. I decided that my studio name would be Guardant Press. I like the classical idea of the guardant lion but honestly, there is a wooden painted sign in our basement of such a lion that inspired my name. It was that simple!