Why Are Custom Letterpress Business Cards Making a Comeback?
by Mashum Mollah Business Development 06 December 2018
Perhaps the correct thing to ask is if custom letterpress business cards have ever gone away in the first place. They didn’t, but the story of how the human, quirky look of letterpress printing managed to stay relevant for business cards is interesting and offers some insights into our relationship with technology.
While the use of letterpress machines declined sharply in the 1970s thanks to the appearance of modern offset printers and computers, they never really went away. On both sides of the Atlantic, letterpress machines were sold off at wholesale prices or sometimes given away. These often ended up in the hands of small print shops and artisan printers. Some older print businesses also held on to their old machines because they couldn’t afford the switch and for other practical reasons as well.
Why letterpress business cards stayed around:
While modern offset printers and computers were faster, more accurate, and less prone to the common print errors that defined the letterpress age, they also lacked the warmth and human element that was present in letterpress. One big reason many larger printing companies made the switch in the first place was that unlike letterpresses, modern printing setups produced less distortion on paper.
As a matter of fact, being able to apply just the right amount of pressure on the old letterpress machines to avoid distortion and indentations on the paper or cardstock was part of the art of letterpress printing. While the imprints are seen as desirable today, they were actually seen as a sign of a sloppy printer in the age of letterpress printing. Pressing down on the stock too hard would cause imperfections and dents on the paper, which would lead to an uneven look when stacked. Applying too much pressure could also deform the metal letter types over time, reducing their definition and utility as time went on.
For business cards, letterpress printing is just better:
However, for business cards and invitations, these imperfections and distortions are not necessarily a problem. Custom letterpress business cards are, in fact, making a big comeback thanks to these quirks. In this digital age where automation and everything are so clinically precise, people are starting to be drawn again to imperfect, yet seemingly more relatable analog products.
Custom letterpress business cards are not the only area where this is happening. The recent revival of vinyl record and cassette sales is a testament to a new-found craving for all sorts of things that are “perfectly imperfectly”.
As with these recording mediums, custom letterpress business cards are also, by and large, acquired online rather than through physical stores. This shows that even in today’s world, many people still believe older technologies and old-fashioned craftsmanship still have a place in their lives.
As far as business cards go, this is even truer. Business cards are meant to be a memorable, personal item that goes beyond just sharing contact details. By going through the time to have custom letterpress business cards made, you are sharing a bit of warmth, history, and humanity – not just your name and an email address like everyone else.