Raghaus Studios Letterpress
Deep impressions for great people
Call toll free 888-859-3688
Click here to email us for letterpress inquiries or graphic design assistance
Studio visits by appointment only · 223 Broadway, Rear · Newburgh, New York
We care about your business · The finest marketing materials in the Hudson Valley.
What exactly is letterpress printing?
Four centuries ago, Johannes Gutenberg invented letterpress printing with movable type, cast from metal, and his printing method became the ubiquitous publishing process for centuries to come. In the 1960’s and 1970’s, however, handset metal and wood type was surpassed by photo typesetting and the letterpress printing process itself was surpassed by offset printing, which is much faster, oftentimes more accurate –and more economical–, but lacks the inherent tactile, deeply impressed experience of letterpress printing we practice today.
Letterpress printing has seen quite a resurgence over the past few years, especially for high end stationery on soft, cottony paper stock – broadsides, business cards, invitations, even packaging and labels.
Letterpress is also extremely versatile, as it not only imprints ink on paper, it also allows for die cutting, perforating, scoring and numbering.
Today, hardly anyone with a creative bone in their body can resist the beauty of deeply impressed letterpressed typography and illustration work. Thanks to a growing number of suitable paper stocks, printing color and debossing at the same time provides an aesthetic that is quite fresh, although it is a manual process with the aid of decades-old machines.
We have almost completely abandoned metal and wood type and we take advantage of modern technology by designing on the computer instead, which gives us a lot more fine-grained control of the aesthetic of our graphics and typography. Each color gets printed separately as a negative and we make a photopolymer plate, both of which we do in our shop, and the plate then gets inked and printed on one of our Heidelberg Windmills, or even on the Poco proof press.
Ink & Color
Unlike offset printing, which more than often is being used with CMYK colors, we letterpress with a full range of Pantone Formula Plus inks, each of which gets mixed individually in our shop. However, each color requires a new pass through the machine and aesthetically pleasing results can be achieved with a limited number of inks through overlays, as letterpress inks are translucent. Normally, lighter colors enhance the debossed letterpress effect, as light and shadow play especially well here. Even a one-color letterpress job can have a truly royal appearance.
Art is in my name and Ink runs through my veins.
Markus Hartel, owner, graphic designer & printmaker
Uncoated, and toothy papers work best – and generally we advise against using coated stock for modern letterpress printing. Cotton rag papers provide the best impression, accompanied by a soft, tactile feel that will get anyone’s attention in a heartbeat. Compared to digital and offset printing, we can use a wide range of lush paper weights, with a deep impression that provides the receiver with a sophisticated haptic experience – a big addition in the creative department.
Simply put, fine typography, solid lines and simple dots are the most graceful letterpress style elements. Text in small sizes should be thin to regular, and you’ll discover that even small sizes read surprisingly well, especially with the tracking opened up a little.
Solid areas are a domain for offset printing, as they can be difficult to print consistently on a letterpress, and they also would not have the charm of a deep impression, but sometimes the lack of uniformity is desirable. However, solid areas with negative text are quite delightful, as the text then is raised above the solid color.
Screens and halftones can be used as graphical elements –think aesthetics, or form over function– coarse dotted areas, or even a line screen can breathe life int your designs. Fine dithers and stochastic screens benefit more from more modern printing processes.
Try to avoid very large, dense areas, as the paper will eventually buckle and bow with the direction of its grain, due to the tremendous pressure applied during the printing process, as the Heidelberg Windmills apply 40 tons of pressure per square inch, and the paper’s fibers will eventually give in.
Larger formats require a larger budget, as plate processing and setup are much more involved.
Letterpress printing on lightweight papers is possible, but you may see a ghosted impression on the back due to the nature of the process, and the thinness of the paper stock.
Light fonts, even at small sizes, combined with light colors, and not too tightly spaced graphics and illustrations always deliver a heartwarming letterpress experience. Use white/negative space to your advantage… Overprints, where two colors generate a third one, are also oftentimes very delightful when letterpress’d.
Instead of the usual retro, or “bespoke” design, letterpress works extremely well with very modern and even abstract artwork. Alternatively, negative graphical elements, or type within solid areas can look very beautiful, as they are raised from the solids. Pressure and soft cotton rag paper stock can deliver truly magical results.
Find more info in our Raghaus Studios Letterpress FAQ
Letterpress increases your customer’s happiness, not your blood pressure – everything we do is handmade, every step along the process…
get a custom letterpress quote
Custom letterpress jobs will take 10 to 14 working days, depending on paper stock and complexity. Rush orders are possible at additional cost. 50% deposit required, remainder upon delivery.