Letterpress Commencement Invitations Pickwick Visit

The Pickwick window overlooking Congress Street

For the past three months, fellow design student Chris Moore and I have been collaborating to create the commencement materials for the Maine College of Art class of 2012. It’s been an honor to have been chosen by the school to participate in this design internship. After many hours of hard work, we’re finally seeing our designs take form! Today we went to the Pickwick Independent Press where 2011 graphic design alumni Jeff Hoffman is spearheading the printing of the invitations: that’s right, LETTERPRESS invitations!

It was great to see the process behind the Pickwick Press as well as Jeff’s attention to detail. Chris and I paid careful attention to the Pantone colors we picked out for the designs and seeing our color choices be mixed to match was exciting!

Only half of the design was printed at the time: the inside invitation details. For the front cover we have nine silhouettes that we’ve traced from photos that I took of the entire graduating student body. (Yes! It took a long time to get everyone’s with scheduling differences!) Originally, we planned to have the silhouetted “blind embossed” on the cover – meaning that the plates are pressed into the paper without ink, so the design is seen only as a slight indent in the paper, which can be beautiful if done right!

The paper we chose, however, was not thick enough to render a deep enough imprint. The silhouettes were hardly noticeable! So we pulled out the Pantone swatches and Jeff got to work mixing the beautiful deep plum color that we had chosen.

I’ll definitely be posting more photos later when the invitations are finished and I won’t be spoiling the design for anyone! There’s a lot of secrecy around the design right now!

Jeff Hoffman, 2011 MECA graphic design alumn, mixing some colors!


Most all colors have to be mixed using a precise ratio to get the perfect color.


The polymer plate featuring nine silhouettes - to be pressed into the invitation cover


The folks at Pickwick worked all weekend to print the interior of the invitations!