USPS Stamps Have a New Feel – Textured Coatings & Thermochromic Ink

 

USPS Stamps: Textured Sports Stamps and Thermochromic Ink Eclipse Stamps

The USPS continues to excel with great design, print and marketing ideas in their innovative new postage stamps. Their newest releases take the plain printed stamp to a whole new experience level. They combine cool, engaging print techniques with a topical interest in current events and culture.

USPS Sports Stamps

In honor of the America’s favorite sports, the USPS chose the kick off of the U.S. Open golf championship to debut a series of stamps with an actual “feel.” The Have a Ball! Forever stamps are round, and honor the sports of baseball, basketball, football, golf, kickball, soccer, tennis, and volleyball. Each has a special textured coating to simulate the surface of each ball. You can feel the baseball’s stitching, the golf ball’s dimples, the tennis ball’s seams, raised panels on a soccer ball and volleyball, and the unique patterns of a football, basketball and kickball. For the philatelist, you can order first-day-of-issue postmarks and first-day covers here. On Twitter, follow the hashtag of #Haveaballstamps.

Total Eclipse of the Sun Forever Stamps

To top that creative print idea, the USPS will commemorate a rare total solar eclipse, which crosses the entire width of the continental United States on August 21, with the Total Eclipse of the Sun Forever stamp. What makes this stamp as unique as the eclipse which it commemorates? The heat of your finger pressed onto the stamp will transform the image of the darkened moon blocking the sun into an image of the full moon. This is the first time the USPS has used thermochromic ink in printing stamps. This ink is vulnerable to UV light and, since it is a forever stamp, should not be exposed to direct sunlight to preserve the effect.  For collectors, you can also purchase a special envelope to help protect the stamp pane. On Twitter, follow the hashtag #EclipseStamps.

Remember, the USPS receives no tax dollars for operating expenses. They fund their operations through the sale of postage, products and services.

Using an actual stamp – as opposed to a permit imprint –helps to boost “open rates” for direct mail marketing, providing a personal touch. For a specially targeted mailing of limited size, these textured and innovative forever stamps might prove eye-catching enough to pay for themselves in improved response.

 

Call us at 828.684.4512 for any marketing needs. As a printer, we understand communication and design. Your printer should be able to provide you with the latest information, inspiration, technical advice, and innovative ideas for communicating your message through print, design and typography, signage, apparel, variable data printing and direct mail, integrated marketing and environmentally responsible printing. If they can’t, you have the wrong printer! The best advice, always, is to ASK YOUR PRINTER!

ImageSmith is now partnered with Extreme Awards & Personalization - our in-house partner providing custom engraved trophies and awards for employee recognition programs, sporting events, and promotional needs. With our new sister company, we will be sharing space, resources and expertise in a collaboration designed to further provide you with one place to meet all of your marketing needs… Under One Roof! Visit them online at www.extremeae.com or call direct at 828.684.4538.

 

 

Call us at 828.684.4512. ImageSmith is a full-service print and marketing provider located in Arden, North Carolina. Contact us at ImageSmith for quotes on all your print and marketing projects, and more useful tips on how to create custom, effective, high impact marketing solutions.
Posted in Creativity, Design, Graphic Design, Mail, Paper, Print, Promotions | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

Using Templates to Design – Print, Promo Products & Signs

 

Designing on templates

Trade show booths, converted envelopes, coffee mugs, die cut folders, POS displays, folded mailpieces… what first step do all these design projects share? In each case, you will want to ask for a template from your printer before you design.

The print, signage and promotional products world continues to diversify with custom branding opportunities that allow you to print on just about any object you could want. Throw in the creative use of die-cuts, spot coatings, textures, and folds and starting your project layout on the right foot becomes all the more important. For the designer, that means working with vendor-supplied templates to make sure your design ends up printing in the right spot with no expensive surprises or added cost.

Vendors are usually glad to supply a pre-press template for your specific project. In fact, many require your files be submitted on their template – and for very good reason. The positioning, size, and bleed area are critical for successful output on projects using various substrates and printing surfaces, and complex bindery or finishing processes. When you submit files that need no adjustments, you save prepress and art department fees that would be needed to correct or modify your files, or perhaps save having to pay for a job that did not print as you hoped.

Often, however, instructions are vague about exactly HOW to work with the template. Here are a few pointers that may help. In MOST cases, the template you will receive is a PDF. If you are using the most common desktop publishing software – anything from Quark Xpress to the Adobe Creative Cloud Suite – the PDF can be used in several ways to guide your layout without getting in the way of your work.

We love Illustrator for many great reasons and it is generally our preferred software for design of promotional products, wide format signage, vehicle wraps, and even some regular print jobs that have complex die cuts or folds. The PDF template can be placed into Illustrator like an object, on its own layer, and used as a guide. But the most helpful way is to begin by choosing File–Open With (rather than just File Open) and pick Illustrator as your app rather than Acrobat. (If, as sometimes happens, the template PDF uses fonts that your computer does not have, just ignore the warnings. While they may not print well on your end, the vendor who made the template will have them, so no problem.)

Trade show booth template

Templates are almost always vector objects that will open and be editable in Illustrator. Of course you don’t want to edit the template, but it can be helpful to have the ability to manipulate it when using many layers or when you need to hide parts of the template in order to proof your project to a customer. You may also need to copy and use curved shapes or other features of the template when creating masks or other design elements.

Layers palette in IllustratorMany PDF templates are very user-friendly in Illustrator. They use specific non-printing colors to designate the layout and help you see the placement of things like folds, edges and dyelines while specifying how much bleed area you need to allow as well. They will generally have the template elements on locked layers so you don’t accidentally edit them. Most have a blank layer already prepared for you to work on. If not, always leave the template on it’s own layer(s) and create a new layer to contain your print elements.

Layers palette in InDesignSometimes, it is preferable to prepare your layout in InDesign or another page layout application. You can simply File–Place the PDF template into your document. It makes sense to create – and lock – a layer just for the template file. You can then turn visibility on and off as needed and move it up or down in the layer order as well. Your document size in InDesign should be the same size as the entire template, including crop marks if applicable. Upon export, you would generally turn all fonts to outlines and create your PDF/X1A with no crops or bleeds other than whats included in the template.

These PDF templates generally include other important information to guide your design. They will specify whether you need to use PMS spot colors or stick to all process. They define needed bleed area. And they usually spell out the resolution, size, and embedding specs for any images you include.

Templates save time, headache, and money throughout the course of your design project. Make it a practice to ask ahead of time for a template, and make the template your friend.

Call us at 828.684.4512 for any marketing needs. As a printer, we understand communication and design. Your printer should be able to provide you with the latest information, inspiration, technical advice, and innovative ideas for communicating your message through print, design and typography, signage, apparel, variable data printing and direct mail, integrated marketing and environmentally responsible printing. If they can’t, you have the wrong printer! The best advice, always, is to ASK YOUR PRINTER!

ImageSmith is now partnered with Extreme Awards & Personalization - our in-house partner providing custom engraved trophies and awards for employee recognition programs, sporting events, and promotional needs. With our new sister company, we will be sharing space, resources and expertise in a collaboration designed to further provide you with one place to meet all of your marketing needs… Under One Roof! Visit them online at www.extremeae.com or call direct at 828.684.4538.

 

 

Call us at 828.684.4512. ImageSmith is a full-service print and marketing provider located in Arden, North Carolina. Contact us at ImageSmith for quotes on all your print and marketing projects, and more useful tips on how to create custom, effective, high impact marketing solutions.
Posted in Bindery, Design, Prepress, Print, Promotional Products, Signs, Wide Format | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

The Rebirth of Brutalism – Graphic Design’s Edgy Experiment

Virgile Flores, Art direction, Graphic design

Playful or angry? Radical or bland reproduction? Utilitarian or chaotic? Brutalism in graphic design thrives on uncertainties.

A common goal of design, especially in a print marketing or web commerce environment, is to stand out from the crowd – to grab attention. As a result, the current or hottest trends in the design world are often reactionary… an effort to gain notice by their difference, unique nature or even shock value. While this may not be a good fit for everyone’s brand message, it can convey the spirit of innovation, freshness and creativity that just following the norms can never accomplish.

Brutalism---Just2

The latest trend, according to many experts in the design world, is a current reimagination of the genre of Brutalism. Brutalism is based in the modernist architecture movement of the 1940s-1970s, closely associated with the work of Le Corbusier. The word itself is from the French for “raw,” as in the raw exposed concrete used on much of the buildings’ facades. Think stark, rugged, cold, institutional – much like the architecture that comes to mind when you think of gray cities in eastern Europe during the Cold War era. The structure and utility of the object is shown, not hidden. There is little room for ornamentation. Perhaps the best way to describe Brutalism is to define what it is not: the goal of a brutalist approach is not to appear easy or comfortable. It is not light, fun or friendly.

Brutalism - WildTurtles

Brutalism web design

A great place to get a feel for the range and style of a brutalist aesthetic is the Washington Post’s gallery of Brutalist Websites. The Post describes the genre in this way: “In its ruggedness and lack of concern to look comfortable or easy, Brutalism can be seen as a reaction by a younger generation to the lightness, optimism, and frivolity of today’s web design.” Brutalism - retroOften it bears a resemblance to the images of the early days of digital graphic design and the internet – pixellation, jarring color combos and clunky typography – a partial nod to the retro or nostalgic approach.

Check out the creative work all over the internet now and see if your brand or marketing might benefit. It will mean breaking a lot of rules design school taught you never to attempt – in color choice, font selection, imagery, content and even the coding of webpage development.

(For a humorous take, look at ux.design.cc for their idea of what an imaginary framework for what a brutalist design process might look like.)

Brutalism - roTopo

Brutalism---SportsTragedy

Vitelli website

 

Call us at 828.684.4512 for any marketing needs. As a printer, we understand communication and design. Your printer should be able to provide you with the latest information, inspiration, technical advice, and innovative ideas for communicating your message through print, design and typography, signage, apparel, variable data printing and direct mail, integrated marketing and environmentally responsible printing. If they can’t, you have the wrong printer! The best advice, always, is to ASK YOUR PRINTER!

ImageSmith is now partnered with Extreme Awards & Personalization - our in-house partner providing custom engraved trophies and awards for employee recognition programs, sporting events, and promotional needs. With our new sister company, we will be sharing space, resources and expertise in a collaboration designed to further provide you with one place to meet all of your marketing needs… Under One Roof! Visit them online at www.extremeae.com or call direct at 828.684.4538.

 

 

Call us at 828.684.4512. ImageSmith is a full-service print and marketing provider located in Arden, North Carolina. Contact us at ImageSmith for quotes on all your print and marketing projects, and more useful tips on how to create custom, effective, high impact marketing solutions.
Posted in Branding, Creativity, Design, Graphic Design, Print, Uncategorized, Web | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

The Campus Arboretum of HCC Celebrates First 50 Years with Beautiful Print Exhibit

HCC display

Celebrating the beauty of a “living laboratory” calls for a beautiful exhibit. The Haywood Community College Foundation in Clyde, NC is doing just that for the anniversary of the HCC Campus Arboretum and “First Fifty Years of Stewardship” in their exhibit Forest, Farm + Garden, 1966 – 2016. Through a mix of print, mounting and lighting techniques, the exhibited historical information and images combine to engage and inform visitors in a museum-quality experience. Visiting is a great way to learn more about local landscapes and horticulture – as well as check out in person some quality print examples, substrates and display ideas.

The landscape, gardens and collections of Haywood Community College and its Campus Arboretum are recognized as “one of the most beautifully landscaped areas in Haywood County.” The current exhibit honors the original vision of landscape architect Doan Ogden as well as the years of continued stewardship over the campus and its collections: greenhouses, a dahlia garden, orchard, working vegetable gardens, rhododendron garden, mill pond and grist mill. The HCC campus today stands as a “tapestry of landscapes that together capture the heritage of he Southern Appalachian Mountains and its people.” This HCC display is made possible through generous gifts from the Charitable Foundation of the International Dendrology Society and individual society members. Proceeds from the sale of exhibit catalog, photos and posters will be used to further education, outreach and stewardship of the Campus Arboretum.

HCC Mill Pond

Photo by Benjamin Porter

The exhibit is located in the Mary Cornwell Gallery of the Creative Arts Building on the HCC campus, and will be open from October 1 through November 19, 2016.

Forest, Farm + Garden, 1966 – 2016 employs a blend of different print, mounting and display techniques to tell the story of 50 years of stewardship on the HCC campus. New photographs by Benjamin Porter as well as historic plans, photos and maps from the founding director John Palmer’s records bring to life the history and achievements. Check out below some of the print techniques that can be used for any permanent or temporary display to engage viewers.

Campus Arboretum HCC display

 

Dye-Sublimation Fabric Printing – colorful graphics and text come alive on the rich texture of fabrics through a process known as dye-sublimation, or “Dye Diffusion Thermal Transfer Printering.” This “soft signage” preserves the drape and texture of fabric, and has the bonus of being lighter in weight and less expensive to ship than heavier traditional signage.

Mounted, Adhesive Vinyl, Wide Format Prints – sharp photographic quality prints on glossy vinyl are great for any large-scale display. The adhesive vinyl substrate provides high quality, colorfast output with vibrant colors. Mounting the finished prints onto foam core, corrugated plastic, or PVC backing provides depth and relief to a wall-mounted display in the same way traditional framing does, but without the expense or hardware.HCC display

Flatbed UV Printing – signage can also be printed directly onto substrates up to 6 inches in depth on a flatbed printer, eliminating the need for mounting. UV print bonds directly to the surface of the substrate and provides clear, full-color output in one step. Print pre-mounted plastic, wood or metal surfaces or even pre-stretched canvases for a stand-out wall display.

Contour Cut Vinyl Lettering – for a great visual display of the written word, contour cut vinyl lettering combines great typography with mountable adhesive for an exhibit with a  museum-quality finish. Letters are laser cut from any color of adhesive vinyl, the excess areas “weeded” away, and the text can then be mounted directly on a wall or display. Printed in reverse, the letters can be mounted on the back of glass or other clear substrates for a see-through effect as well.

Talk to your printer about these and more great ideas to create your own one-of-a-kind exhibit or display for everything from an event or opening to a tradeshow or retail window or lobby display.

 

Call us at 828.684.4512 for any marketing needs. As a printer, we understand communication and design. Your printer should be able to provide you with the latest information, inspiration, technical advice, and innovative ideas for communicating your message through print, design and typography, signage, apparel, variable data printing and direct mail, integrated marketing and environmentally responsible printing. If they can’t, you have the wrong printer! The best advice, always, is to ASK YOUR PRINTER!

ImageSmith is now partnered with Extreme Awards & Personalization - our in-house partner providing custom engraved trophies and awards for employee recognition programs, sporting events, and promotional needs. With our new sister company, we will be sharing space, resources and expertise in a collaboration designed to further provide you with one place to meet all of your marketing needs… Under One Roof! Visit them online at www.extremeae.com or call direct at 828.684.4538.

 

 

Call us at 828.684.4512. ImageSmith is a full-service print and marketing provider located in Arden, North Carolina. Contact us at ImageSmith for quotes on all your print and marketing projects, and more useful tips on how to create custom, effective, high impact marketing solutions.
Posted in Creativity, Graphic Design, Print, Signs, Typography, Uncategorized, Wide Format | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

Smash Gives Creatives What They Want: Easy, Unlimited, Ad-Free File Transfer That’s FREE!

 

Smash File Transfer logo

Free? No registration? No size limits? Mobile friendly? And specifically designed for designers?!!

SMASH is a new digital content sharing service based on a model designed to truly give users exactly what we all want when sharing digital files: free, unlimited file size, drag-and-drop simplicity. Throw in mobile accessibility, and easy previews with absolutely no ads and Smash can win you over with one use.

Smash landing page

The idea for Smash came out of a group of creatives in Lyon, France who wanted an easy, no-limits, user-friendly file sharing service that would also bring creatives into closer collaboration. While waiting for your files to transfer, the screen showcases creative works and gives useful information about exhibits and events of interest to creative professionals. The potential here for other great collaborative ideas is huge and the founders are still incubating ideas.

Smash lays out in their news release the benefits and unique characteristics of their file-sharing site in a few simple points:

  • No registration (and no fees, ever!)
  • No size limit on transfers
  • Secure
  • Aesthetic interface (with no ads!)
  • File preview
  • Mobile device access
  • Ability to preview all, then select which files to download

The process is perfectly intuitive: drag and drop files, enter your recipient’s email and a message if desired, then they receive an email with a link to the files where they see previews and can choose what to download. You receive a confirmation email with the links as well, and another notification once your recipient downloads files. The files stay securely on the Smash servers for 7 days and are then deleted. Sweet!

Smash email notifications

 

Launched in February 2016, SMASH encourages a growing community of artists, designers, architects and creative professionals to get involved – showcasing works in their Artist’s Corner, and as a work in progress, the site also encourages suggestions for additions/new features/capabilities for Smash in the future at Smash Ideas.

How can they afford to do this with an ad-free interface? Smash answers: “Smash is free… and will always stay this way! In order to finance Smash, we are working on a new offer that would include many more features, so stay tuned!”

Smash link

Your recipient will see a preview of the attached files and can choose if and which to download.

Give Smash a try and see that file transfer can truly be easy, seamless and free of charge. I hope they are successful and can maintain that model and reach their goal of being able to “impact crucially the creative world.”

Find them at about.fromsmash.com or on Facebook and Twitter.

 

 

Call us at 828.684.4512 for any marketing needs. As a printer, we understand communication and design. Your printer should be able to provide you with the latest information, inspiration, technical advice, and innovative ideas for communicating your message through print, design and typography, signage, apparel, variable data printing and direct mail, integrated marketing and environmentally responsible printing. If they can’t, you have the wrong printer! The best advice, always, is to ASK YOUR PRINTER!

ImageSmith is now partnered with Extreme Awards & Personalization - our in-house partner providing custom engraved trophies and awards for employee recognition programs, sporting events, and promotional needs. With our new sister company, we will be sharing space, resources and expertise in a collaboration designed to further provide you with one place to meet all of your marketing needs… Under One Roof! Visit them online at www.extremeae.com or call direct at 828.684.4538.

 

 

Call us at 828.684.4512. ImageSmith is a full-service print and marketing provider located in Arden, North Carolina. Contact us at ImageSmith for quotes on all your print and marketing projects, and more useful tips on how to create custom, effective, high impact marketing solutions.
Posted in Creativity, Design, Graphic Design, Photography, Print | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Comments Off