It’s not everyday, or even every month, that you can do business with a company or individual where you can say you were overjoyed to be their client. You can be in love your new laptop or you can be completed satisfied with a particular pizza joint but it’s a rare occasion to be so much a part of the process that you become friends with the owner.
After first seeing an interesting printing style called letterpress on an art and design blog, I got it into my head that I wanted to have a set of business cards made in that style. At the same time, I was talking to a complete stranger on a forum about his upstart letterpress printing company. They had not even gotten the press yet but were going to be up and running in no time. I knew it would take me forever to design what I want (I had zero experience with Illustrator, the program I needed to use to design it) so I took his email and got started on the design process.
Many iterations, a page orientation change, and many hours bumbling though Illustrator, I had my design (you can see the iterative process here):
All through the design process, I had Preston Grubbs, co-founder of Fresh Impressions printing, on my Google Talk application, talking me through the design, making suggestions, and teaching me about the process. He was helpful, friendly, and a complete professional. We chatted at long length about paper weight, ink color, design elements, and the process in general. I had never met him before, never talked on the phone, but I was already convinced that I would be completely satisfied by the end of the process.
The check was sent, cleared, and cashed, the paper ordered, the plate created, and pictures to ease my anxiety about the whole thing. Finally everything was complete and I had a tracking number. Here’s where Preston and his partner really started to shine.
When the cards showed up, they weren’t really what I expected. I was new to the process so I may have been confused but I wanted to talk to them about the final product. Preston told me explicitly “BE HONEST” when I told my opinion so I typed out an email detailing my issues. Here was the response:
I talked with my ‘business partner’ and we both agreed that we would be more than happy to reprint them. Unfortunately, last night we did a little more printing and we were able to fine tune the press even more. It turns out we were using our roller gauge incorrectly so we were putting down too much ink, therefore creating an inconsistent ink density as well as impression.
If you would like, I will express you some of the samples we printed last night on various stocks to show the quality we have reached now. We will not be able to reprint on 220lb because it is so much more expensive, but hopefully we will be able to do the pearl 110lb now or we also have access to some really amazing handmade paper that receives a beautiful impression. I can send all of this to you today if you would like me to and you can choose what you want your reprint printed on.
Again, I apologize for you not being happy with it and hopefully this doesn’t affect our relationship and you will accept our offer.
I was honest, he was honest and nothing beats complete honesty in a business relationship.
I kept some of the original cards on the thick stock and had a new set of cards printed on the thinner (but, in my opinion, easier to manage) paper stock. They were printed quickly and shipped out as promised. When they showed up, I was totally impressed:
In the end, I’m helping Preston get the attention of someone who might be able to help him rise to great heights in this printing endeavor… though there is no doubt in my mind that he could do it on his own. These cards are unique, tactile, and each one feels like a work of art. Preston’s passion for what he does shines through in every communication and especially in the product itself. I would never hesitate to recommend his services to anyone.
Thank you, Fresh Impressions, for your unmatched service and truly “needs-to-be-seen” product.
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Oct 02, 2008
I have been talking recently (more in person than anywhere) about being a generalist and what that means to me. I am, in every sense of the word, a generalist, a mash-up artist, comfortable between groups than deep within them.