fees for letterpress printing?

Now that I’ve gotten started doing letterpress jobs, I have an increasing number of people asking me for casual bids for work. Ulp. I need a resource for figuring out what to charge. Ideas? I’m a one-person shop, but all of my previous work has been graphic design. I have a clear sense of how much I should charge for that sort of work, but am feeling lost about the printing part. Any help would be greatly appreciated. (Located in Austin, Texas)

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What is letterpressing?


It’s a term from the UpSpeak Dictionary. See: Parenting; Global Warming; InnerSelf; etal.


I’m surprised you don’t know this, Gerald: letterpressing is what you do when you use those iron-on transfers to print letters on T-shirts. :-)

But seriously, Gwen, I’ve run into the same situation lately. I don’t really print for sale, but friends do ask for things and insist on paying. It’s tough! I started by scouring the Internet for products similar to what they wanted. Try designspongeonline.com/category/paper and finestationery.com (on this last one search on “letterpress”). I took an average price and then worked backwards to arrive at a setup charge and a per-piece charge. For example, for friends, I came up with $50 setup plus $1.25 per set of name-only flat note cards on Fabriano Medioevalis stock with addresses on the envelope flaps (envelopes unlined). Strictly-business clients would be more, so would photopolymer. It also would give you some insight to time yourself while working. I’m painfully slow and hand-crank a Vandercook; I’d be cheaper if I didn’t scrutinize each sort and if I whirled things out on a Heidelberg. To ease the guilt of charging $75 for 20 note cards, I hand-make a nice box and add a little enclosure: flickr.com/photos/7929005@N07/1832201192/ .

Oh, and don’t mind Gerald. He’s really a dear and is only trying to keep the language pure. The preferred term is “letterpress printed,” not “letterpressed.”

Hope this helps,

Hi again Gwen,

I just noticed that Design Sponge has recently changed its format, and a better URL for the letterpress listing is designspongeonline.com/category/letterpress .


I stand corrected.