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5 Essential Sources of Bindery and Post-Press Inspiration

[fa icon="calendar"] Fri, Oct 18, 2013 / by Andre Palko

elephant origami225It’s no surprise that letterpress printing seems to be on the rise. Paper still has power. There’s an undeniable appeal to the look, texture and feel of metal type and engravings imprinted on old fashioned or even homemade paper. Even the latest all-digital companies acknowledge that paper just might have its place. The online invitation company Evite recently began offering… gasp …paper invitations through Evite Ink.

No matter how much printing and finishing sophistication we invest in the printed piece, there will still be a client with an opinion, holding that finished piece of paper in his hands.

Will it move him?
Will it make him take action?
Will he show it to his friends or co-workers?
Will he open the cover to see what’s inside?

This is why bindery and post-press operations can still be one of the most powerful tools for your printing operation. In the end, the question comes down to “What are you going to do with that piece of paper once it’s printed?”

The wide range of new bindery equipment today allows printers to handle a tremendous variety of work even in small quantities. It’s not uncommon for a single shop to offer in-house basics in folding, stitching, perfect binding, comb and coil binding, laminating, coating, die cutting and hand assembly. And any of these will likely include a mix of creasing, perforating or cutting operations. That means the client has amazing, readily available choices to match their needs in an impressive way.

But if you really want your clients to stand out, which in turn makes your company stand out, get creative with your basic finishing capabilities. Here are five resources which will get your creative juices flowing when you reach a dead end. Some include technical articles and tips to help the bindery operators and managers who actually produce all this creative stuff. Some will help you or your graphic artist creatively solve a customer problem with a unique design twist.

1 - Trish Witkowski of is well known for her popular Fold of the Week video series. (You can sign up for free on the site.) For inspiration, check out the expansive archive of folded brochures here, ranging from conventional to unusual specialty folds. I dare say that if you watch a handful of these very short videos, it’s impossible to leave without an idea.

To keep the inspired designs flowing smoothly through production, check out Foldfactory's template building software, FOLDRite. This software "was developed to make file creation for folded materials easy, repeatable and standardized." It automatically helps designers compensate for folding compensation in all types of folded pieces, thus preventing countless possible errors in design and production.

2 - Sabine Lenz founded PaperSpecs,, as "the first online paper database specifically developed for the design and print industries." Equally as valuable, if not more so, is the level of inspiration available for FREE in her Weekly Paper Inspiration videos, Gallery of Projects and various paper resources such as this nifty paper weight conversion tool. There is too much to list here.

3 - The Binding Industries Association (BIA),, is a professional resource of the Printing Industries of America. For inspiration, go no further than the archive of their Product of Excellence awards. The BIA also has an extensive list of training manuals, books and webinars available for bindery workers and their instructors.

You can also subscribe to The Binding Edge, the official publication of the BIA. It’s geared toward trade binderies, commercial printers with in-house binding and finishing, book production facilities and manufacturers of loose leaf products. The Binding Edge website has several years of post-press related articles available on their website here.

4 - The Foil & Specialty Effects Association, is another post-press association with much to offer in the way of inspiration. There are tons of design and production tips here and here about how to work with foil stamping, embossing, coatings, laminations, laser cutting and foil fusing on laser toner. Included on their site are links to an extensive archive of articles on these topics here.

You can also subscribe to their InsideFinishing Magazine. If you are searching for a company to finish your special project, use the FSEA’s affiliated site, You can narrow your search by including sheet size, services required and US region. Members also get access to additional resources in addition to the free ones listed above.

5 - One of the most valuable resources for inspiration could be as close as your local trade bindery or finishing company. Many owners of these companies have been living and breathing creative post-press work for decades. You might even find yourself drawing on the experience of more than one generation in a family-owned bindery.

Pick up the phone and schedule a visit and bring along your latest creative challenge. Ask them, “What would you do with this job?” As an annoying old-timer might say, ‘some of these guys have forgotten more than you’ve learned.’ Well, maybe they used to just say that to me…

The power of paper. Use it. Get creative. Long after the battery is dead on your iPad, that award-winning printed piece sitting on your shelf will still amaze and delight clients and colleagues. So get busy, get inspired, get out there and produce it!

This is by no means a definitive listing so if you would like to suggest more, use the Contact Us form and we’ll include it in a future update. As always we welcome your comments and suggestions below.

Topics: Staff Training, Bindery Business Tips, Employee Education

Andre Palko

Written by Andre Palko

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