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How (not) to Start a Relationship With Your Letterpress Printer

by | Jun 28, 2016 | Letterpress

Maybe I’m just hanging out with the wrong people.

I hope that’s all it is.

It’s a product of youth and inexperience, but I’m seeing it creep into more seasoned designers, too. Creatives who’ve forgotten the golden rule.

[bctt tweet=”Value the work of other creatives as you would have others value yours.” username=”afinepress”]

It comes in some blatant forms:


“I need a reasonably priced [printer, photographer, etc.]”

“That’s too expensive”

“Are you kidding me”

But the most insidious form is this:

“I’ve got a ton of great work coming – can you help me out on this first one?”

Here’s the thing about that.


You’re not coming back. You’ll ask someone else for a “first time” discount.

OK, maybe you wouldn’t do that, but I can count on one hand the ones that have come back and paid a fair price.

If you try to sell a printer on the hope of future work or exposure, it’s unlikely to end well for either of you.

[bctt tweet=”People die of exposure.” username=”afinepress”]

Fair rates that sustain print shops – that’s how these relationships work. You pay. Your printer does a bang up job for you.

But you want a great relationship with a printer, right?

Of course you do!

Here are a few things that you can do to get off on the right foot:

Do some research

Before you even call for a quote, take a minute to understand what you’re asking for. There are a ton of great resources out there. I’ve made a few and plenty of other great shops have, too. You can gain knowledge on why letterpress is more expensive than other methods or how much letterpress business cards cost.

Ask questions

We’ve gained a lot of knowledge over the years. We also approach things our own way. I’ve seen my competitors take on projects I’d never quote as spec’d – sometimes because they’re beyond my capabilities and sometimes because I believe they’re actually bad ideas that will produces substandard results. Sometimes I’m pleasantly surprised and other times the client gets sub-par work.

We LOVE talking about what we do. We’ll help you make design and spec choices to get the most out of your project.

When you can’t afford it.

Just say as much. “I’m afraid that’s more than I budgeted.  Is there an option you’d suggest that would get us closer to $x,xxx.xx?”

See? Not at all insulting and no empty promises. And it opens the door for your printer to share his knowledge with you.

Value yourself

Lastly, when you learn to value your own work for what it’s worth, it’s easier to see the value of others. If you’re a designer selling logos for $100, I’m going to assume you don’t actually want to make a living doing this.

Understand your value to the client and charge accordingly. Then, respect other creatives who do the same.

happy printer – happy designer – happy client

A happy printer doesn’t guarantee a happy client, but an unhappy printer (or designer) pretty much guarantees an unhappy client.

Your mileage may vary.

So if you’d like to start a relationship with this printer,

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