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What do I do? What do I do? What do I do?…Oh my!

Use the search function to find all the information for which you’ve asked—it’s been covered many times. You’re going to have to do your own research.

Use it as well to research different books out there that will help you learn. Some off the top of my head:

General Printing, by Cleeton, Pitkin and Cornwell
Letterpress Printing, by Maravelas
Printing Digital Type on the Hand Operated Flatbed Cylinder Press, by Gerald Lange (a Briarpress user)

My oh my is correct. As I see it Brystalh should intern at a shop or maybe even take a class (imagine that) on letterpress.
These business people gunning for the money because letterpress is so “hot” make laugh out loud, yes I LOL.
Good luck with your business pursuit Brystalh and remember, presses are big heavy machines and sometimes dangerous. They are to be respected first then you can worry about the money later.


Definition of STATIONERY: materials (a paper, pens, and ink) for writing or typing
Definition of STATIONARY: fixed in a station, course, or mode.


Letterpress is like a sickness, your never happy with what you have, you always need more type, more presses, bigger presses, larger stone, more quoins. After 50 years of doing this i still want more, even girl with a kluge wasn’t happy with kluge and had to get a windmill. You should check around for some classes and maybe take a trip to a museum and see what this stuff looks like before you jump into something. This equipment is heavy and can cause serious injury if your not careful. Good Luck Dick G.

There are some good videos on utube that can answer some of your questions.

You forgot more square footage for space to hold all that type and heavy metal.

Find someone teaching a letterpress workshop and take a few classes. Ask lots of questions here at Briar. Buy the books mentioned above. Join the Photopolymer Yahoo Group.

Will this be for pleasure or business? Make it fun and it’ll seem less like work. Have a point of difference in your your creative (what sets you apart from the herd).

Prices vary from a C&P to a flatbed press. A few hundred dollars for a C&P to several thousand for a Vandercook. Will you be using metal or wood type? You will need room for type cabinets.

If you only use photopolymer to print from then type cabinets, composing sticks, leading, spacing material, and more would not be needed. However, you would need a furniture cabinet and several quoins with key to lock up your Base.

I have a friend that prints strictly from photopolymer and has a huge business, goes to NY market and sells many items. So, there’s room for everyone.

Make a commitment to learn the craft.

Inky Lips Letterpress
Jonesboro, Arkansas

Based upon your questions, I hope your considering this a hobby vs. a for profit venture.


Also, good luck becoming a graphic designer and starting a commercial letterpress business with a few thousand in CAPEX.

Hello brystalh,

I have to say, I spattered my computer screen with tea when I read, I am starting a stationary business. I know NOTHING about it…. No disrespect intended — I appreciate your enthusiasm and pluck, and I think many successful letterpress stationers have been where you are at one point.

But I agree with modernman: an internet forum is more appropriate for posing specific, focused questions. The only one of your questions that has a ready answer might be What is a good graphics program that I can design the stationary in?, and the answer would be Adobe Creative Suite, which is I think what most designers use these days. That will set you back about $1300 unless you qualify for the educational discount. It will take you a while to get comfortable with just the software portion of the process, assuming you’re already versed in the principles of design and typography. If you make that investment in time and money and then decide that letterpress is not for you after all, you have not lost anything since your skills will still have many applications.

As for the other questions, another place you might start is David Rose’s Introduction to Letterpress Printing, which isn’t geared for stationery businesses but which nonetheless has many links and references that will give you an idea of what it’s all about.


Well done on atleast starting out!
I too, have very recently started learning how to print at home, i have an adana 8x5, and am acquiring a C&P soon.

With regards to graphics, while Corel Draw and illustrator seems to be the industry norm, i have gotten by with nothing more than a graphic tablet and pages on my Mac,

It does need an investment, as you need to just do it.
I bought my own platemaker, EVERY colour of ink that i could get my hands on, paper trimmers, LOTS of lettra paper, storage, desks…..

So far i am just doing business cards for free for my friends!, and am loving it!

Inky is right, there is lots of room for new people, and youre right that it is ‘hot’ right now.
good luck.

I’m located in Austin, Texas. So, if you ever do buy a press and need help learning to use it, I can offer one-on-one classes. But I don’t teach people how to run a press in my own shop, for liability reasons.

Ultimately, the real question underlying your original post is “Do you want to be a printer?” A lot of people have a romantic idea of the process, and think they would enjoy it. But printing can also be tedious, repetitive, and even frustrating, especially for moonlighters.

It’s easy enough to open a stationery business without doing the printing in-house, and I would recommend this sort of setup for someone just starting out, unless you have significant capital to buy all equipment, supplies, and float your business costs for 6-18 months. It’s a lot to learn all at once, especially if you’re new to design as well.

My press, Vrooooom Press, offers a lot of trade printing services to designers and stationery groups, and can happily provide printing of designs for business that want to offer letterpress, but not necessarily commit to becoming a print shop.

Should you desire to become a printer, the advice above is definitely solid. Start with an internship or series of classes, and then hone your skills on personal projects before ever touching a commercial job.

Good luck!

James Beard
Vrooooom Press
Austin, Texas

i admire your excitement and eagerness, but honestly, it’s not wise to start a new business by trying to do everything all at once. :) by trying to learn it all at once, you will not be able to become an expert at any part of it for a long time. break it down into pieces.

start with digital. just learning how to handle the stationery business, reseaching paper types,embellishments, best adhesives, finding your niche, getting suppliers and learning adobe illustrator/photoshop/indesign will keep you plenty busy for a long time! plus a laser printer takes up much less room and doesn’t carry the risk of appendage mangling if you make a mistake.

i started a wedding stationery business 3 years ago, and it has grown beyond all expectations with just digital printing. i do raised ink and letterpress thru my local printer, tho i have taken letterpress classes and now own a C&P 10x15 and will be learning that as soon as it gets out of my frigid garage and into its new home. :) it would likely be a much better option for you to outsource your letterpress printing at this point, so you can still offer it, but not have to make the large monetary and time investment in purchasing and learning the equipment.

my point is, letterpress is just a fraction of this market. a potentially profitable one for sure, but the slice of the available brides looking for this will always be a minority. especially now, when coming off a recession, letterpress is not in many bride’s budgets. instead of chasing this say, 30% of the market, focus on the other 70%. then when you’ve got a good thing going, think about this. :)

best wishes to you on your new venture! :)

“Letterpress is like a sickness, your never happy with what you have, you always need more type, more presses, bigger presses, larger stone, more quoins”

I am suffering from this right now

Crystalblackheart, you can add square footage to that one too.
Brystahl, if you are a wedding industry professional, perhaps you might have a headstart on the business end of running a stationery business. So if its imperitive you start a stationery business while simultateously learning the industry, I would lean towards Vrooooms suggestion and do what you can with your business know-how, and oursource the printing while you take the time and learn. I’m one of the rare few to score a traditional 5 year apprenticeship for letterpress (from a man with 9 1/2 fingers thanks to letterpress), and now being on press for 20 years, I am still challenged everyday.

With all the fine examples of letterpress online, the general public will see right through you if you try to peddle novice work (unless you market it as novice work). And you will be forced to sell you work at a much lower price than you are envisioning.

I don’t want to discourage you, as you certainly have the drive, but please do the industry a favor and take the time to learn correctly and respect the history, and not just the potential profit. If you don’t have ink coursing through you veins, outsource until you do.

crystalblackheart, the only thing you can do is pack up your letterpress things and send them to me, if you don’t do this soon it might be too late, i can help you beat this thing but you must act soon or you will be hopelessly lost in the world of letterpress. Dick G.

I’m recovering from a hardcore record collecting obsession, but falling into a hardcore letterpress collecting obsession.. I can definitely relate to what Dick G is saying.

I haven’t started selling records to buy Letterpress stuff.. yet, but I imagine the day will come.

I haven’t even started printing and already I want a bigger press, more shop space, more type, etc..

All my wife can do is watch and shake her head.

Cody, if i can help you i will, if you need type you are welcome to call me and if my ludlow is hot you can come and set your type, i’m just trying to save your marriage. Dick G.

I’m not there right now, but I have several sayings posted here and there in the shop that pretty much sum it up. They have been hanging there for decades so I think I can almost quote them verbatum.

He who dies with the most type is the winner.

There is a lot of money in old letterpress equipment, I know because I put it there.

There are but two classes of type. The type you have and the type you don’t have. Those you don’t have are better.

When you proofread, make sure you don’t leave out any the words.

What’s the difference between a man with ten children and a man with a thousand fonts of type? The man with ten children doesn’t want any more.

The acquisition of more type is not a matter of life and death, it is far more important than that.


Rick is probably winning…

Thanks Dick!

I may be coming by next weekend, you think you’ll be around?

Can I bring the press and ask a few questions?

Thanks again.

Cody, you have my number, call me toward the end of the week and we can set up a time, if you need some type set i’ll fire up my ludlow and you can set some. Dick G.

LMAO Dick - I hope my fiance doesn’t read this because he might just send you my stuff when I am not looking … luckily for me it’s letterpress or WoW right now and I think my beau likes me less fat & nerdy so the letterpress will stay.

@Cody - are we the same person?!
“I’m recovering from a hardcore record collecting obsession, but falling into a hardcore letterpress collecting obsession…”

Possibly.. if so, please send me all of your… I mean, MY records.