Thursday, July 3, 2008


I'm learning a lot about the quoting process. Of course, I've done a lot of quoting before as part of being a graphic designer, but those quotations always ended with a final dollar amount, and were rarely negotiable.

With printing quotes, however, prices are itemised as brides usually don't know exactly what they want or can afford until they see prices.

There are many things to consider when quoting, many of which people don't realise:
- paper cost (including the freight I have to pay)
- guillotining (this can be up to a couple hours of work)
- ink (especially if the customer requires a specific colour I need to order in)
- press maintainence (solvents, oil, my hours, cloths)
- plates (which includes paying someone else to make the film, and another person to make the plates. Preparing plate artwork can take an hour or two depending on artwork)
- graphic design/illustration (I actually don't charge extra for my design and illustration services, which saves the bride a lot, but also means I often don't get paid for hours of concept work and artwork setup)
- electricity (to run the press, studio and my very loud radio)
- mistakes (especially if Collie is misbehaving. I might have 2 bad prints for every good print sometimes, which is wasted paper, time and energy. Never fear, it's my own fault and I'm getting better, so wastage is being reduced gradually!)
- petrol (to go deliver/pickup artwork, film, and plates. I travel across town doing this sometimes).

And of course, add my own time and salary to the list.

Each colour can take up to 3 hours to prepare for printing, depending on the design and specific job. There's makeready and proofing before it officially goes 'on the press'. Letterpresses aren't like the gorgeous computerised offset machines that you see in print factories these days. Letterpresses are still a handmade craft, which takes time.

So someone may order just a few items in 3 colours or more and pay a higher amount than someone who orders more but in one colour.

Please don't get me wrong - I'm not whinging! Not at all. I just wanted to explain what goes into a printing quote, and why letterpress costs more than, say, digital printing. But I'm enjoying the quoting process, and love seeing new queries in my inbox -- so keep them coming! :)


Kitty said...

This is really interesting to read about. I am a huge fan of letterpress, and I had no idea how much work went into it until I started following some letterpress blogs. Keep up the good work... or should I say, keep up the good creating!

Bespoke Press said...

Excellent post Louise! Quoting for design work can be quite easy - letterpress is a whole other ball game... but we still love it more :)

Erin McCall said...

I'm a bit concerned to read that you don't charge for your design and illustration time. Doing so devalues your services and means you are not getting compensated for the hours you spend working.

If printing is a hobby or a part-time business, maybe not charging is something you could get away with doing for a little while (if you are willing to accept not getting paid for work you are doing), but I wouldn't recommend it.

You should charge something for your design time, even if it isn't your full rate.

Not meant to be a criticism, just something to think about...

Poppy Letterpress said...

Erin - I know I should be charging for it, and that is in the plan for the future, but just while I'm getting things started I won't be. Once I've got a little more experience under my belt, I'll be re-evaluating my prices.

Thanks for your comment, it was very welcome :)

Erin McCall said...

Thanks in return for the blog post - very useful as many people don't realize how much work goes into letterpress printing (and designing for it!).

Best wishes,