Saturday, April 9, 2011


If you know me well enough then you know I believe "SHARING IS CARING" so what does this have to do with a blog titled "Field Trip"........actually A LOT! When I first started BeeCustom Design I discovered early on that very few creative professionals SHARE information and a few might even try and lead you in the wrong direction. I truly believe no two designers are alike, we all have tons of original artwork or designs however it's what you do with it that will make you different. Two years ago I set out for my first New York Stationery Show and was so excited to be amongst my fellow creative professionals. I wanted to find a company that could produce some of my artwork on melamine plates and bowls and figured I would be able to find a source there...NOT A CHANCE...NOBODY would share anything. I finally spoke with a woman that represented a very large company and I asked her what the deal was.....her response was yes most creative professionals will not share because it may impact their business. Every plate or bowl in that entire stationery show that I saw clearly was made by one company but what made them all different were the designs....some designers have a whimsical look, some have a preppy look my point is no two designers are alike so sharing information with another creative professional should not impact your business and any good designer wouldn't dream of copying another designers work. On the last day of the show I spotted a plate in a display case that someone forgot to put their logo sticker on the back and I was able to copy down a phone number. When I look at my plates and bowls they don't look like any other designers because it is my artwork and my style on them.  After that show I promised myself that I would never do that to another creative professional, I would share because we are not re-inventing the wheel people we're all just all trying to make it our own.

I recently was talking with a potential client who wanted a specific look for her wedding invitations, she wanted blush pink ink on navy card stock I knew this would have to be out sourced to a printing company. I called a few different ones asking how I could achieve this look, I was told I could not because all inks are transparent except for metallic inks. Feeling a little annoyed and defeated I kept searching the internet........FINALLY I stumble upon something online ENGRAVING........this method of printing will allow you to print using light ink on dark card stock because the ink is not transparent. Funny thing is I went back to the websites of the company's I originally called non of them offered engraving but I find it hard to believe that as professional printers they didn't know this printing method existed....I guess they were not willing to share.

I'm the type of designer that if I am going to allow someone else to handle the printing of any of my work then I want to not only know them but physically be able to meet them which meant I needed to find a local printer. I came across the Artcraft Company located in North Attleboro, Massachusetts I was impressed with their website so I emailed Michelle Wagner their social stationery manager who was very prompt in answering all my questions and providing me with a quote. She then invited me to come down and visit the company.........I was thrilled!

A few weeks ago I went on a field trip to The Artcraft Company and it was by far the best professional four hours I have ever spent, so much so that I wanted SHARE what I learned with all of you. As I sat in Michelle's office she showed me all the work they have done with multiple kinds of printing methods. I learned that if you are designing for letterpress make sure your lines have some thickness to them if you have a design that contains a lot of fine lines have it engraved......engraving LOVES fine lines. The more Michelle spoke the more I realized if you're a designer your printer should not just be a company you send your work too, they should in a way be your creative partner......their knowledge of printing methods will essentially make you a better designer.

Michelle was able to give me a personal tour of the print shop.......OMG it was incredible to see all the equipment in full operation.....our first stop was to meet Steve Ladabauche and Jim Petrarca who are the plate makers they were kind enough to stop and show me what they were doing and why. In short Steve and Jim receive a negative from the pre press department.  They in turn make the copper plates (one plate is necessary per color for engraving) which are then processed in an acid bath. After the plates are made, Steve and Jim hand tool any areas that require extra depth or fine-tuning in any way. Watching them fine tune someones design by hand was truly amazing and just re-affirmed how essential it is to know your printer and their peeps. Next up was pressman Phil Havey who also took the time to stop and not only explain but show me the engraving process as a job was being done. As we continued on through the printing facility I was able to see business cards being cut and completed orders getting ready to ship. One of my favorite spots on the tour was the seeing all the tubs of inks.......hundreds of colors, Michelle explained a lot of times to achieve the exact color is not as simple as just picking one color but the art of mixing a few. As I look at all the colors I spotted a shelf of PINKS and in the middle of all them was the perfect blush pink ink.......who knew that a simple request would have lead me to one thing I had been searching for......a really good printer.

My visit to The Artcraft Company has changed me as a designer I feel like I can offer so much more to my clients now.  To any creative professionals out there I encourage you to know your printer they have A LOT of knowledge that can and will make you a better designer. If you do not have a printer I will share mine because "SHARING IS CARING"  I feel I have found a partner in The Artcraft Company, I know now when I send a design for Michelle to look at she can tell me the best method of printing to use in order to achieve the ultimate finished product. The only thing I regret about my day at Art Craft was not bringing my camera.......thank you to Steve for taking these photos for me to share with all of you. I wanted to share one last photo of an engraved letterhead printed by Artcraft, before I contacted them I was on their website and came across me it was a SIGN because I actually received my degree in Graphic Design from Mount Ida College.

I want to give a HUGE THANK YOU to everyone at The Artcraft Company very making my field trip first rate.


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