Sine & Lugh are born!
Jojanneke and I met and lived in New York for six years before moving to Amsterdam in 2012. The birth of our first child (Sine) in 2013 coincided with my learning of the standard Dutch practice of sending cards to announce births (and deaths), and that they are expected to be sent out within a week of the baby’s arrival! Having a family & friends mailing list encompassing the Netherlands, Ireland and the United States soon brought us to a dual-language design for the card, complete with all the details and nice pictures.
We live in the heart of Amsterdam and it felt only right to take advantage of Dutch printing craftsmanship to help bring the design to life. However, to help save costs I convinced the printer to let me print two of the colors at home on my inkjet, over which he would letterpress the primary color. This is fairly unusual, but it worked out great and he was also happy with the overall print quality and results! For Lughs card we simply reprised the same job spec (paper, process, sizes) but with new typography, colors and illustration. This sped the design process up quite a bit, but it was still surprisingly difficult to finally define the typefaces, colors, and plane illustration!
To complete the mailing I printed and hand-trimmed smaller visiting information cards and baby photos to include with every card. I also hand-embossed each envelope using a stamp of the monogram I had designed for our wedding in 2012.
Note: I included some process pictures in the mix in case you find them interesting, along with the first card we designed for Sine’s birth in 2013. The two are naturally intended to complement each other nicely, while trying to maintain some individual flair to reflect the two children!
Naturally there were several obstacles to getting this just right. Chiefly, designing and producing a relatively time-intensive announcement in the first week of having a new baby is not the ideal work-environment! Nor is you head as clear as it could be to make multiple fine-detail decisions. For Lughs card we tried to have the design completely finished (aside from the specific text details), but printing the cards (both at home and at the printer) took several days and too many hours. On top of this, hand-trimming the smaller cards and photos, and stamping the envelopes all added up to lost sleeping-time when it was already in short supply! If there’s a next time then we would try to have as much as possible done before the baby arrives I think.
Production-wise, managing the color fidelity from the choice in the swatchbook, through to an inkjet and onto the press was a real challenge. For the inkjet, I initially built the colors using the Pantone color bridge references, but they consistently printed too lightly (even on heavy ink settings). In the end, I used the spot solid color, unchanged, and it printed perfectly!
Similarly, on press, getting close to the chosen color with letterpress is really difficult. Generally speaking, the ink prints much darker than expected, so with each card we had to go a full shade lighter (in Pantone ref) to get the final ink to be about right. Choosing the exact color was a constant headache for Sine’s card, but we were quite a bit more zen about it for Lugh’s card knowing that we could never absolutely control the results!
The other key area to pay attention to is registration. I printed each card one at a time to ensure that each went perfectly straight through the inkjet, and thus ensuring that each would register the same on press.
Outline all text for the printing plate, but use live type for inkjet or else it prints much more heavily (e.g. Semibold style instead of Book).
Finally, don’t forget to print extra base cards for the printer to get set up on (registration, color matching, first presses), usually about 20–30 should of the final quantity should suffice.