The Stationers Guild

Archive for November, 2010

Digital Holiday Photo Cards: A little secret

Thursday, November 25th, 2010

The digital camera has revolutionized photography.    The rapidly evolving technology has made it possible for the amateur to take great photographs, one of which often ends up on the family’s annual holiday card.  As a stationer, I am often asked whether I prefer cards that are digitally imprinted on the card or photographs which are mounted on the card using adhesive strips.

Invariably, I believe that photographs printed on photographic paper are superior to images that are digitally reproduced on paper.  If consistent and high print quality are your overriding objectives, then a commercially reproduced photograph is your best choice. 

There is nothing easier than visiting your local photography store or photo printer and having high quality images printed in a matter of minutes at prices which are generally less than 20 cents per photograph.  Nevertheless, images from your digital camera often get cropped when converting them to a standard 4″x 6″ photograph.  This is because the aspect ratio is slightly different from the standard 35mm image.

Without going into a lot of detail (see previous digital photograph article), you might lose about 1/4″ off the top of a horizontal photograph.  If you have already cropped your image, this means that you might lose the top of someone’s head when the edited photograph is produced.

To avoid having this problem, be careful and avoid cropping your photograph too closely.  Better yet, I just learned this little secret when printing some photographs for a client:  rotate the picture 180º and this will cause the body(ies) to be cropped while leaving the heads intact.

Inverted Digital Photo for Cropping

For those seeking an attractive  photo card with great print quality and beautiful designs, take a look at William Arthur’s holiday photo cards.  William Arthur offers a variety of printing options for holiday photo cards.  Have your photographs imprinted directly on the card using William Arthur’s superior digital printing capabilities or use their photomount cards and mount your photographs with the pre-applied adhesive strips.   Whichever option works best for you, William Arthur is a good choice for those seeking a stylish photo card at an affordable price.

Richard W. May
Thérèse Saint Clair

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No matter how far you push the envelope, it is still stationery

Wednesday, November 24th, 2010

One of my favorite puns and one which could well serve as tag line for the Stationers’ Guild is: “No matter how far you push the envelope, it is still stationery.”   While this is always good for a laugh – at least for those that know how to spell “stationery” – I suspect that the relevance of stationery is fast becoming lost to a growing number of people who live online.   This was brought home to me today when I received an email from Envelopes.com.

The subject line of the email was “Push the Design Envelope” followed by “Your Designs + Our Envelope = Perfect.”   Now, I have never heard of Envelope.com but I discovered near the bottom of their website that  Envelopes.com claims to be  “the leading supplier of plain and printed envelopes in all sizes, styles and colors, to businesses, organizations, and individuals. © 2010. All rights reserved.”

The fact that I have “never heard” of Envelope.com is not disturbing.  In fact, with a little research the company was formerly known as Action Envelope and is headquartered in Long Island.  I find it surprising that the “leading supplier” of envelopes would change their name if they were that well known, but very little surprises me anymore in the stationery industry.

Which brings to a serious question:  What is the difference – if any – between stationery and paper?  To many, I suspect there is not a lot.  Nevertheless, I hate it when people refer to Saint Clair as a “paper shop.”  Perhaps, I am getting a little sensitive as I grow older, but I am confident that I know the difference between “paper” and fine stationery.   It may simply be a question of style and elegance, but to me stationery is reflected in a quality paper that begs to be touched.   Monograms or names that are embossed or engraved on fine stationery simply add another layer of elegance to an already rich stationery experience.

The stationery industry is overrun with flat and insipid designs printed on “paper” – not paper that raises to the level of  “stationery.”   While we can lament the decline in the informed consumer, let us spend our time rejoicing in the many who still treasure the craftsmanship that goes into making fine stationery.

And for those designers and printing companies who are inspired to create beautiful stationery rather than become leaders of mass-marketed papers, we salute you and wish you well.

Richard W. May
Thérèse Saint Clair

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D’Arconte Holiday Cards: Respect for Traditions but always Cutting Edge

Wednesday, November 10th, 2010

One of the highlights of my year is visiting Bob D’Arconte at his studio in Dumbo (Brooklyn, NY).  Bob does not suffer fools lightly, which is why I always ask Sheila to schedule the appointment.  We normally schedule a meeting in early August to select our holiday card designs, but this year we got overtaken by events (new granddaughter) and, as such, this meeting was a “last minute” attempt to salvage a few boxes of his much sought after holiday cards.

D'Arconte Gold and Silver Trees on Red

Each year, I try to select a few images that I believe can be faithfully reproduced in a digital format for viewing on the Internet.  I am always sorely disappointed since D’Arconte’s colors, beautifully engraved images and blind-embossed frames and designs simply can’t be properly reproduced in today’s digital medium.  For that I am truly sorry, since his flair and craftsmanship is - in my estimation - several steps ahead of the rest of the field that seems to have difficulty finding their identity in designs and print quality that simply lack inspiration.

Since we arrived late in the year, Bob was already well into formulating his new holiday cards for 2011.  Like all great artists, some of these “new” designs are mutations of earlier efforts, but all were dazzling examples of what an inspired artist can create who fully understands and appreciates the medium he is working with.   In addition to the holiday cards, we had the opportunity to see some of the initial designs of a new line of stationery that incorporates Bob’s unique art deco motifs.  While Bob can clearly visualize the end result of the design and engraved color combinations,  I saw a few geometric shapes and some “scratchings.”   He patiently talked us through his art deco concept and I am more than convinced that a rich stationery treat awaits us next year.

D'Arconte Getting Together this Winter

Found below are several holiday card designs featured in this year’s collection.  These cards are engraved on heavy paper stock and are available in only a few leading stores located in major metropolitan centers across the United States.  D’Arconte does not actively promote his stationery or holiday cards preferring to work only with a few qualified stationers and corporate clients who appreciate the uniqueness of his product and are as passionate about service quality as he is.  I mentioned to him that I had received several requests for images and samples of his designs and we agreed that perhaps next year we could throw up a website that would feature some of his remarkable holiday cards and perhaps some stationery.  I realize this doesn’t help those looking for his cards this year, but at least it is a step in the “right” direction.

Joy Holiday Card Detail

Close Up of "Joy" Holiday Card

A word about D’Arconte’s designs.  First, the images don’t do his holiday cards justice.  Engraved images are three-dimensional and both the bold and subtle contours of his engraved designs and embossed frames are simply lost in most Internet browsers.  Secondly, the absence of color or pronounced “white space” only enhances the beauty and symmetry of his designs.  Seen on a “white” Internet background, this visual impact and sophistication is sadly lost.   Thirdly, D’Arconte “bumps” metallic inks (primarily gold and silver) twice to give them a rich burnished feel.  As each engraved color is applied in a separate press run, this extra “bump” for metallic inks  requires an additional run.  Trust me.  The impact couldn’t be more stunning.

Please find below two additional holiday card samples.

D'Arconte Joy Holiday CardD'Arconte Trees Covered in Snow

Richard W. May
Thérèse Saint Clair

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Google changes the landscape of Local Search

Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010

It has been awhile since I have posted articles on the Stationers Guild website. It isn’t for lack of interest, it is simply that I have found that the landscape of SEARCH and INTERNET MARKETING is changing so radically that  it is difficult to know how to position one’s business.  The new search parameters imposed by Google are so impactful that most local business owners need to seriously rethink their overall marketing strategy. 

For the most part, I believe that these changes are “good” (where “good” is a relative term) for local business owners since geo-targeting capabilities in most new cellphones raise the importance of local search results.  The bad news is that if a local business doesn’t have a website or has a website that is not properly configured for local search, they will be left out in the cold.  Found below are – in my estimation - some of the more impactful implications of Google’s emphasis on “Google Place Results”:

  1. In the past, a local business did not need  a website to be listed on the Google 7 or 10-pack list of local businesses.  The Google Lucky 7-pack has now disappeared and has been replaced by Google Place Search.   Don Campbell of Expand2Web describes the impact of these changes on local search.   If you don’t have a website, get one now!
  2. New and growing constraints on AFFILIATE marketing by Google are designed to provide an online  buyer or visitor with improved or more relevant SEARCH results.  Gone are the days when one could throw up an affiliate website designed to generate commissions if one clicks on the embedded link and buys something on a sponsor’s site.   In fact, I have recently discovered many websites designed to link to third-party websites may have already been deindexed by Google and may not even show up in search registries. 
  3. While all of these factors are positive for local businesses over the long term, it does require a greater commitment by local business owners to embrace internet marketing.  Fortunately, there are a number of relatively inexpensive ways to do so.  Nevertheless, it is important to act now.

Because of these changes, I have decided to overhaul the Stationers Guild website.  These changes will occur over the next several months but are designed to enhance the visitor’s website experience and  promote affiliate programs with established vendors who have a commitment to excellence and support their storefront dealers.  I think you will find the Guild website will become increasingly more valuable as it will begin to support your local marketing initiatives.  More on this later. 

For those who wish to learn more about creating a viable online presence, I have established a sister website called www.rite4u.com which will give you the lastest insights into the latest changes in internet marketing and the “best” tools to take advantage of these changes in technology.  Through this website you will be able to access valuable affiliated resources such as Don Campbell’s Expand2Web which builds local search friendly Wordpress websites. More information on Expand2Web will be forthcoming shortly. 

If you value your business and seem confused or concerned about the evolution of the stationery industry, I suggest that you register now at rite4.com and learn how you can protect and grow your investment.

Richard W. May
Thérèse Saint Clair

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