Behind the Scenes: Everyday Cards July 20, 2017 05:00

Mary Beth and I are kind of old school.  Of course, we use technology everyday and definitely appreciate what it can do, but we also love reading a real book with paper pages, writing in a physical planner, and sending some old fashioned snail mail.  Designing and developing a line of Everyday Cards fit right in with our product line of high quality paper products. In fact, when we launched the UPstudio website, the only products we had were 4 varieties of Everyday Cards, and a calendar set (my how we've grown!).  Today, we're giving you a behind the scenes look at what happens to make a run of Everyday Cards.

It might not seem like it, but A LOT of thought goes in behind the scenes to develop a product.  As you've heard us say before, we like to get involved and understand all aspects of what we're making.  This means that we had countless conversations and visits with our printer (local Raleigh, woo!) to get a full understanding of paper types, colors, thicknesses (weights), sizes, printing methods, and economy of printing.  Believe me, this is a lot of work, and a lot of decisions.

The design concept of each card came first, but the final layout and cropping was decided after understanding what type of paper would be used, and how it would be printed.  We went in depth about paper weights and the differences between offset and digital printing in this blog post, which if you're in to paper is a pretty interesting read.  The UPstudio Everyday Cards are offset printed on 160 lb cover stock, which in layman's terms means that it's printed on really thick paper with a very even matte black finish.

Once we decided what size the cards would be (mainly determined by standard envelope sizes), our printer could figure out the size of the paper that they would be cut from.  It's not something you think about every day, but a card isn't printed on the size paper that it ends up being, instead there are multiple cards printed on one larger sheet of paper.  The overall design size is greater than the final cut size, and crop marks are included in each print, so that the cuts will be precise and the ink will print full bleed and look clean when cut to size.  The UPstudio Everyday Cards are sized to print 8 cards from a 13x20 sheets of paper.  This sheet is cut in half from a 20x26 sheet of paper in order to work with the size of the printers.  So, to simplify:  large paper is cut to print size, designs are printed, and cards are cut to final size.

Depending on the thickness of your paper and the amount of ink that is applied, sheets may need to be laid out to dry for several hours before cutting.  The very first run of Everyday Cards from our printer turned out to be a bust after the sheets weren't allowed quite enough drying time.  Once they were stacked and cut, the still slightly-wet ink bled onto other cards and made them messy and unusable.  Talk about lessons learned!  Many of the UPstudio Everyday Cards have a very saturated black design, which means they require EXTRA drying time.

Once the reprints were dry, our printer contacted us to come view a proof and approve before the final cuts were made (even though we've printed out tons of cards with them, they understand our level of pickiness and always make sure we're good with everything before finalizing!  They're the best!)

(above: an example of a proof sheet ready for approval)

After we gave the thumbs up, it was time to cut. The sheets were stacked up and placed on a cutting machine.  The crop marks were aligned on the cutter and once set correctly, the sheets were secured in place and a large sharp blade cut a big stack at once, kind of like a paper guillotine.  Check out this video for a good example of how this works (disclaimer: this is not our printer, but you get the idea).

After the final trim, the cards are QC'ed (checked for quality control to make sure they're all trimmed and printed correctly), then packaged up in stacks ready for pick up.  We pick them up, then take pretty pictures and package them up for purchase, just for you!  

(above: stacks of cards wrapped in plastic from the printer)

We currently have a line of 8 Everyday Cards, 2 seasonal Christmas cards, and approximately a million more designs in mind.  We have an open invitation for anyone who wants to send a card to an active duty or retired military service member to request a free card, so don't hesitate to take us up on it.

We hope you learned something with this blog post!  Happy letter writing!