Foil Stamping Shines – More Options from Metallics

Foil Stamping - Hot, Cold and Digital

Foil stamping is a great way to add eye-catching shine and metallic glow to your print projects. Even a small touch of foil on a printed piece can bring it alive in a way regular inks never can. Foils have been around a long time (having once been done by hand) and today there are also several new digital and toner-based processes that can help meet the demands of any print budget, deadline, or run length. From the design side, defining the foil stamp area is generally no harder than defining a new spot color in your layout.

Probably the most well-known foiling process is Hot Foil Stamping. It requires a special metal die that is heated and pressed into the paper, creating a nice indentation in the finished piece. The hot foil process uses only one color of foil at a time, and is generally too costly for short runs. The final effect, however, elevates any print piece from average to classic – in other words, perfect for that customer who always says to “make it pop!”

Sample Foil Swatches Cold Foil Transfer is accomplished on a 6-color press. The first 2 units apply adhesive and foil, the other 4 are for CMYK printing. Overprinting CMYK onto the foil creates a whole gamut of metallic colors that would not be possible with one-color hot foil stamping. Besides gold, silver, and copper foil, there are also holographic foils which reflect a broad spectrum of colors back to the eye, as well as matte, gloss, pearled and pigmented foils from which to choose. Again, this can be a costly process, is often limited to coated stock only, and is not a great fit for a short-run budget.

New digital processes use either toner or a polymer varnish to attach the metallic foil, and can be cost-effective on short or medium sized runs. Also, metallic foil substrates are a great option – opaque CMYK inks are illuminated by the metallic media, and white can be under printed on specific elements to retain true or non-metallic color where desired. PaperSpecs has a great “Foil Cheat Sheet” you can download free here, outlining all the current processes.

InDesign Layout for Foil Stamping

To define the foil stamp area in your layout, just make all those objects be a new spot color – name it “FOIL” if you choose. You can get clear specs from your vendor or PSP, but in short they will need a separation from your design that only contains the area to be “foiled.” Foil stamping is also a great option when choosing from the huge variety of promotional products that can be branded for your marketing. Foiling can be used on most items from keychains to coffee mugs – in a wide variety of colors and finishes.

And speaking of varnishes, spot UV varnish coatings can give a flash of highlights to a printed piece in much the same way a metallic foil does. When the paper catches the light, these elements shine and give the illusion of depth and dimension but in a more subtle way than a metallic ink or foil. They too are simply defined in prepress as a spot color separation in the same way the foil is setup.spot UV coating adds gloss to print

So the options are out there today for employing great metallic foils and effects without any extra hassle for design, prepress, or budget concerns. The main limitation is often envisioning what the final product will look like — you will not really be able to create a digital or hard copy proof that will accurately preview the often stunning effects foil stamping can create. Perhaps the best way to do that is to ask your print provider for a sample of previous projects that successfully used foil. They should be happy to help you out.

In fact, rely on your printer for advice and direction with all of your integrated marketing. They should be able to provide you with everything from encouragement along the way to complete design, layout, copywriting, production, multi-purposing, online implmentation and distribution of your marketing outreach. If they can’t, you have the wrong printer! The best advice, always, is to ASK YOUR PRINTER!

ImageSmith is a full-service print and marketing provider located in Arden, North Carolina. Contact us at ImageSmith for quotes on all your marketing projects, and more useful tips on how to create custom, effective, high impact marketing solutions.

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.

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.

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.

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.

5 Bright Ideas to Inspire Your Creativity

 

Scientist in lab with paper airplanes

Creative thinking is a valuable skill in any line of work. Inevitably we all have days where that creative spirit seems to be missing, or we fall into work habits that ignore the benefits and fun we experience in exploring our creative thoughts. Here are five ideas to boost and foster creative thinking and problem-solving.

Play More

Navy pilot with paper airplanePlay isn’t just for kids. According to The Leadership Guy, Peter Economy, writing for Inc., creative people revisit their inner child on daily basis, finding opportunities to play both at home and at work. A variety of research studies have shown that play has a large impact on the way we think and work creatively. One body of research dates back to 1967. In this study participants were given the task to imagine multiple uses for one object. Results showed that the participants were more likely to come up with more ideas if they were first allowed to tinker or play with the object first. For graphic designers, the process of doodling – playing around freely with ideas –  often frees the mind to wander and begin exploring the options that form the basis of a great design. If you’re looking to spark creativity, take some time to play first. And if you want to keep the creative juices flowing, you must promote and accept play as well.

Don’t Be Afraid to Daydream

Clouds in a blue skyTake time from your day to let your mind wander. This act can significantly impact your creative thinking. According to Inc., research shows daydreaming can bring out the best in our creative selves, as it stimulates connections in our brains and allows us to consider ideas we may not have initially considered. Additionally, allowing your mind to wander enhances your ability to problem solve, reports Psychology Today. A study from 2009 out of the University of British Columbia found that daydreaming can help solve problems. Creativity itself is often defined as, at its core, a process of solving problems. Taking the time to relax and let your mind wander is a healthy habit, but far too often is characterized as an impediment to production. On the contrary, it can restore and re-energize.

Travel Often

Suitcase with worldwide travel stickersExperts say that if you want a more creative brain, the answer can be found in traveling more often. Experiencing the world can open the mind to new ways of thinking, reports The Atlantic. Both psychologists and neuroscientists believe that traveling can affect a mental change, changing and revitalizing the way our brains are wired, opening up our minds and allowing us to think creatively. All of this comes from sights, sounds, even smells of the places we travel, which spark different synapses in our brains. Whether you take up residence in Washington D.C. or travel across the globe, you’re likely to come back more creative than ever before.

Take up a Hobby

Painting on a canvasWhile work is important, it’s equally important to have a hobby or activity that you’re fond of outside of the office. Whether you prefer painting on canvas, posting a blog or cooking in the kitchen, having a way to express your creative side through a hobby or side project can impact your everyday creativity. Fast Company reports that having a hobby can make us better at many aspects of our lives. Still skeptical? When Google began its 20 percent rule, which allowed employees to spend 20 percent of their time exploring creative side projects, they were surprised to see an 80 percent increase in both productivity and creativity at work.

Be a Risk Taker

pair of dice showing 7Being creative and taking risks go hand-in-hand, as most creative thinkers are big, big risk takers. To envision a product, bring the product to life and then put it out there for the world to see is quite risky. But the rewards are plentiful. Imagine, where would we be if nobody ever took a risk?

 

Also – be sure to regularly take time to check out the creativity of others. In every field, people are continually pushing the boundaries in unique ways. Admiring what others have created will often nurture your own creative spirit with new ideas and excitement.

 

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.extremeap.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.