Frequently Asked Questions.

What is letterpress?

For a rundown on the fundamentals of letterpress, click here.

Do you use type, blocks or plates at Passepartout? Or all three?
Passepartout uses photopolymer plates exclusively for the following reasons:
1. It's the easiest way to turn a design [yours or mine] from the computer or sketchbook into a letterpressed piece.
2. We're not restricted by what typefaces the studio has in wood or metal. So long as a typeface can be drawn, purchased, downloaded or otherwise imagined, it can be printed.
3. It is significantly more space-economical. 
4. It requires less time to compose a page and type can be laid out left to right.
5. It is an exciting meld of new technology and time-worn hand-printing tradition.

What is 4 color printing?
In standard 4 color printing, each page gets printed once with each of the 4 colors CMYK [cyan, magenta, yellow, black]. The inks are transparent and when printed on top of one another combine with each other to create a whole spectrum of colors. So the range of colors seen on a 4 color digital or offset print are the result of various combinations of the CMYK inks.

Can you print 4 color with letterpress?
Yes we can print 4 separate colors but no, we do not utilize the overlay method as seen in digital and offset printing. In letterpress each color gets its own plate as it does in offset printing. The difference is that each color is a ‘spot color’ and hand mixed to represent it's final display color. It is not intended to blend with other inks on the page. The benefits of this is that you do not need to print 4 colors and use 4 plates in order to get just 1 color. You also can have colors mixed to precise specifications such as the pantone range. In offest 4-color printing, pantone colors are considered a ‘spot color’ and require another plate usually resulting in a 5 plate or higher job. In digital printing, it is not possible to print pantone or ‘spot colors’. In specific instances an overlay of 2 inks may be a desirable effect in letterpress and can be accomplished. Because letterpress inks also have transparency this technique can also result in an additional hue on the page without the addition of another plate. Please consult with us if you have a desire to try this method out on a project.

How many plates will I need per project?
Each project will usually require 1 plate per color including any blind [colorless] impressions, per side. So if you're only printing in 1 color and on one side of the paper, that's one plate. If you're printing in 1 color but utilizing both sides of the paper, say for a postcard, you would need 2 plates.

Can I have the letters raise up from the paper instead of pressed down?
Relief printing [essentially letterpress] is when the raised plate is pushed down into the paper. This relief effect is called deboss. When a plate is pushed up from beneath the paper in order to create a raised image, this is called an emboss. Embossing is not merely placing the letterpress plate on the other side of the paper. It requires 2 plates, a die and counter die to create the proper effect and is therefore a more expensive process. Blind debossing [relief printing without ink] produces a similar and equally as elegant an effect while being less expensive and less time consuming. If you are interested in both or either technique, let us know and we will find one that will fit with your project and budget.

debossing at passepartout press.

embossing at passepartout press

How much does letterpress cost? 
Click here for a rundown of costs. Or contact us directly for a quote. 

Do you ship internationally? 
Yes! We ship all over the world.

Can you do the design for me as well? 
 Yes! We love to do custom designs for people and to see them realized into letterpress. It's truly amazing to see designs go from the 2-dimensional to the 3-dimensional. With a design education from Parsons School of Design in NYC and a design background in fashion, beauty, packaging, branding and events; we are more than equipped to solve your design problems be they simple or truly head-scratching. 

Custom design, what does that cost?
Click here for information on cost and our design process. Or contact us for a quote.

I have my own design, can you print that?
Of course. We love to collaborate! 

What file formats do you accept?
All type should be converted to outlines. All files must be in RGB format. All artwork should be 100% black. For 1 color jobs a 300 dpi jpeg, tiff or an illustrator file is fine. For multiple color jobs each separate color must be placed on a separate labeled layer either in illustrator or photoshop. The artwork in these layers should also be 100% black. It's always a good idea to include a full color digital file jpeg or illustrator for reference. While keeping in mind this does not constitute an accurate color sample. Lastly, if you have a file but do not know how to separate it into layers or convert the color mode, we can do that for you at Passepartout Press for a small setup charge. [€ 25/hour ] 

I've received my prints and each one looks slightly different and ‘handmade’. Why?
That's because they are handmade! The plates are hand-scrubbed. The ink is hand-mixed. The paper is hand-fed. The plates are hand-registered. And the paper is hand-cut. Each piece off the press is a unique and precious piece of handmade art to cherish. The appeal of letterpress is in its modest hand-crafted origins. If you would prefer sleek unwavering precision, you may want to look into offset or digital printing. We can suggest some great offset and digital printers in the Netherlands if you need.

I have an exact color in mind. Can I email you a proof?
Not exactly. If you have a pantone color in mind, you can email us the uncoated pantone number. Colors look different from screen to paper. Some colors that the screen can display cannot be printed on paper and vice versa. So that we're all on the same page, the best thing is to mail us a physical color sample. Be it a paint chip from the hardware store, a swatch from a magazine, or a pantone chip. We can also reproduce any pantone uncoated color.

Can you print light inks on dark paper?
Yes, but the results are not guaranteed and we do not generally recommend it. Letterpress inks are transparent. The color of the paper it is printed on will show through the ink. So if we print yellow ink on black paper, you will be able to see the yellow but it will be much darker due to the black paper behind it. However we can print metallic inks and those are opaque!

Can you print metallic inks?
Yes yes! We love metallic inks and because they are opaque we can use those to print on dark papers.

How about fluorescents?
We love fluorescents too. We would be happy to print in a neon shade for you.

Can you print without ink? As in, just an impression?
Yup! This is called a blind impression. And we are happy to oblige you. A blind works best for large display type, or an illustration or background pattern. It's not so legible for little bits of text.

Can you print solid areas of color? 
Yes we can, but generally we do not recommend printed large color areas because:
1. color consistency will vary greatly with a large color area.
2. color will look mottled
3. large color area will not be impressed into the paper
4. may cause paper distortion

What kind of paper do you typically use?
Uncoated thick stock is our preference 280 gsm and up. Cotton paper will give the deepest impression but is also the most expensive. You can still get some great results with thick wood pulp [regular] paper. And of course you can print on text weight paper for say, a letterhead, you just won't get the deep impression that you would with a thicker stock.

What paper do you avoid? 
Coated [shiny/glossy] stock. With coated stocks, the act of impression will crack the coating and paper.

Can you print on really thick paper?
Yup, that's the joy of letterpress. Some of the thicker papers just won't fit through the offset or digital press paper feeder. Since our paper is hand-fed, the sky is pretty much the limit.

Can you print hairlines?
Not really. We don't like to go below .5 pt for stroke thickness.  A line that's too thin runs the risk of not printing consistently.

Can you print teeny tiny type?
It depends. Some sturdier typefaces can be printed at a very small point size while other more delicate fonts tend to disintegrate at even larger sizes. Not going below 6 pt type is a good rule of thumb, but your best bet is to send us a file to look at and evaluate for you.

Wow. Letterpress sounds so cool! I want to learn more, do you offer a class or workshop? 
Yes indeed. Click here for our letterpress workshop site.

Do you speak Dutch?
Ik spreek een beetje Nederlands. Maar ik schrijf beter dan ik spreek. Als je Engels is niet zo goed, maar u wilt een afspraak of telefoongesprek, kan ik gebruik maken van een vertaler om met ons mee, zodat er niets verloren gaat.

Any other languages that you don't speak so well?
Mais oui! Je parle un petit peu fran├žais aussi.

I still have more questions. 
Contact us at info@passepartoutpress.com for your answers.

OK! I'm ready to go. What's next?
Check out our pricing here.  
And our design & printing process here.