Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Wedding Invites Day 2: Ajalon Printing & Design + Paper Source

Hi all! So today, as part 2 of our wedding invitation week, Monkey + Seal will be doing a quick review (as requested) of Ajalon Printing & Design, a letterpress, offset, and digital printing and design studio located in Santa Rosa. Additionally, we will be taking a look at Paper Source, and the wedding invitation printing they have to offer.

After looking over the samples he was sent, Monkey was definitely impressed with the printing quality - sharp edges, good registration, nice color. Monkey was a big fan of the Sakura invitation, which at first glance looks like something digitally printed with a gradient, but upon closer inspection is actually a half-tone gradient letterpress printed. Nice!

Their website is also pretty smooth and easy to navigate around. Finding quotes was quick and easy - just how we like it. You can pick a card size, number of ink colors, quantity, and printing method and get a quick quote like that! Definitely cool.

Another big plus to Ajalon is that they have tons of paper options to choose from, including Monkey's favorite letterpress paper, the duplexed 600 gsm 100% cotton Crane Lettra paper. Ooooh, such sweet papery goodness! Granted, printing on the 600 gsm Lettra is more expensive, but woof, if you can afford it, it is definitely worth it!

Our other review for the day is Paper Source. Based out of Chicago, Paper Source is now 33-stores wide and growing. They offer letterpress, digital, and engraving printing services, as well as thermography through Crane & Co., William Arthur, and Vera Wang.So full disclosure on this one: Monkey's day job is for Paper Source (but he doesn't get any commission for invite orders). He won't say which one, but he does sell these wedding invitations day in and day out, so he's super familiar with them. That said, Paper Source's website for invitations is pretty comprehensive in terms of being able to completely order online (assuming you're going with one of the designs without too much customization).
Monkey really likes the fact that they started printing in Beet ink (with Black, shown below in the Victorian Garden design) and it looks pretty damn good with some of the darker colors like Black and Night.
Paper Source is one of the cheapest print shops Monkey has found if you are a customer interested in buying a design, so if you are on a budget, PS is pretty tough to beat. That said, there are other letterpress shops that are less expensive, but that also assumes that you are a designer with the ability to do things like color separate, etc., etc.

Paper Source prints on a 20% cotton, 30% PCW, 300 gsm paper that is pretty nice and environmentally friendly, but also doesn't feel quite as nice as Crane Lettra or Rives BFK.

If you want envelope printing, depending on what paper stock you choose, can go from affordable to completely ridiculous, so that's one major issue PS has going against it. Other than that, Monkey will admit that Paper Source has a good balance of value, design, and quality.

So there you have it, round 2 of Wedding Invitation Week here at Monkey + Seal. See ya on Friday!