Prepping for my first “client job”…Looking for kind advice!

OK…you all had to have your first job that was the “beginning” of your letterpress love…correct? My first job starts now and I want to make sure I have all or most of my bases covered in planning this press run. My little studio is not fully stocked and I am very new but I want to make this as smooth as possible. I know I’m dreaming with that last one!

I will be printing on a Craftsman a run of 250 A2 cards.

First…the paper. Cranes 110# Ecru. I do not have a paper cutter so I am having the paper ordered pre-cut to be 3/4” larger to hold in the guide pins. I’ll take to a friends cutter later for the final trim. I was go score with a scorit scorer. Any suggestions on ordering pre-cut paper other than my local paper supplier? (rough estimate from them is 1000ct for $280)

Second…the inks. Since I do not have a lot of inks I was going to have Boxcar mix me the PMS color the client wants. It is also the same color I have always had another printer use for my personal line of cards. Now that I have my own press I will have use for the remaining ink! Is there anyone who mixes small quantities of PMS colors other than the standard can for close to $50? I will also be doing what I think is called a “spot varnish”? The second plate will be pressed with a clear ink. I want that design to look semi glossy. Someone told me that I might want to tint is slightly? Would I use Transparent White or Opaque White for this and is tinting necessary?

Third…I wanted to spot-varnish my logo (3 words (figuratively)) on the backside of the card but the client did not want that. We came to an agreement that if it was pressed without ink that would be fine. What if anything do I need to know when printing my 1” sq logo with out ink? How small of a font will be readable? I guess it depends on the pressure?

I am sure I have not thought of everything I need to ask but this is a start. Any help would be grateful!

thank you in advance!


Log in to reply   8 replies so far

Hello Secondbob, you’re not ‘pressing’, but ‘printing’. Good luck though.

If the client’s paying you for the card, you really shouldn’t put your logo on it IMO.

There’s a couple of things that sound dubious in this description, but I think you should just go for it and learn by doing. Make the client happy (if you can) and you’ll be on your way.

Ok, quick tips:
Some online vendors (like Crane’s website) will let you order less than a carton. May save money, unless you just really want to make plans for that Ecru. PMS colors? Unless your client is willing to pay a matching fee to cover that ink, you should begin to get used to mixing ink by eye with trans. white or opaque white. I’ve had some success with offset shops selling or donating unwanted PMS colors.

Good luck,

Vrooooom Press

I concur that when you are doing a custom job for a client, it is poor practice to include your advertising logo. If I were the client I would most likely not allow it. I would at least negotiate a lower price in return for your advertising space.

I think fine printing should be different from apparel and shoes. Some people like to display the designer’s name on their clothes. Not me.

I think you will find that good, careful printing tends to sell itself. If you leave your client with the feeling that you are trying to self-promote on their dime, they will leave that impression with others. Your second impression should probably be with a clear varnish, if you want it to be glossy. Transparent white can look a little milky and opaque white is, well, white.

It sounds to me that you would be well served to buy one pound cans of the different process inks, and mix your own colors. Mixing your own ultimately saves money, as you don’t have the special mixing charges, and it is a skill well worth developing. I have a shop full of used cans of special mixes that were left on the shelves of shops that thought they would use it again.


Advertising on your customer’s product is not as good as the word of mouth advertising that the client will give you for a job well done. You may want to consider asking if you can keep some overs to show other potential clients. In my case most of our work is trade and therefore not my property so the only things we show are those that the customer allows or things we have done for ourselves.

I guess I should have not mentioned this part about putting my logo on the back! Please…let’s not let this be the replies to my post. I get the hint! The client is a childhood friend and she is getting the job at a cut rate due to her budget. That is why I want my logo on the back.

But I do thank you for your comments!

You mention using a PMS color that another printer has used for your own cards in the past — would those have been printed offset, or letterpress? If printed offset, keep in mind the same ink mix (the same PMS “color”) will look darker when printed by letterpress, due to the thicker layer of ink laid down by the letterpress process. You’ll probably want to specify a Pantone color one or two shades lighter than what you see in the Pantone sample book. What PMS color are you thinking, and how soon do you need it? I may be able to mix a 1/4-lb. tube of it for you.

Clear varnish, made for printing, is available in gloss, satin, and matte, and would usually be what you’d use for spot varnishing an image.


thanks Dave…I have had my first line of 8 letterpress cards printed by another printer. Since I will now be printing my cards myself, I wanted to get PMS 505. Photo attached. How much for a tube? Also the price for a tube of satin. I’m not sure which, gloss/satin/matte so I guess I go for the middle?

again thank you for the info

image: BareVineSQ.jpg