Archive for October, 2009


This is what lead type looks like when it is set, left to right, upside down, one letter at a time.

This morning Arjen Noordman, a fantastic designer from Brooklyn, posted an interview with me that, if you are interested in design or letterpress printing or a bit of historical perspective, may be of interest to you.

It’s such perfect timing because November First is the official anniversary of opening my shop twenty-five years ago. I am feeling so nostalgic! Don’t forget to come to our Wayzgoose on Friday, November 6th, from 5 to 8, at the Studio Z Mendocino print shop, 711 North Main, Fort Bragg.

Here is the link to Cranbrook Design’s site and the entire interview:


Here is the invitation to the Wayzgoose, too, for good measure.

Arjen photos 163

The Wayzgoose Invitation, letterpress printed in three colors, mounted on red paper.

We are all madly cleaning and planning and cooking for the party on next Friday. I am contemplating this quarter century of doing work I love very much. It’s a time for going inward, for remembering and appreciating, and for looking forward too, planning and dreaming… Such a richness.

Hope you enjoy the interview!


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Sometimes people are surprised to learn that Studio Z Mendocino is more than a print shop and more than a card line. Actually, we are very definitely a graphic design studio where new logos and ad campaigns are part of our everyday landscape. I wanted to show you this business card we recently did for Jo and Fred Bradley for their tranquil B&B retreat near the sea, in Littleriver, California, Dennen’s Victorian Farmhouse.

Jo came to me excitedly, and a little trepidatiously too, because she had been living with her old logo for a very long time. She knew she needed an updated look, but it was a loaded transition, and what I designed for her was such a big departure from her old look, that it took a bit of getting used to, polling her advisors, and sitting with it just trying to figure out if she loved it totally or was just scared.

A new logo is like that sometimes. You know you want it, but it is almost too big a decision to be able to commit to even doing it, much less to commit to a single thing that will be your representative for years and years to come. It is HUGE.

The process, as a designer, was typical for me…I started fooling around with the name, the location, the intention of the owners, went over and walked around the property (this is NOT my usual habit but they are close by, so I did that too), went into my trance state, drew up five or ten things until something made me jump. OOCH! Suddenly, I am in love. I get this body hit and I just KNOW.

I loved the leafy monogram idea because the garden at the Victorian Farmhouse is so incredible you can’t believe it, and I thought that would convey a sense of the natural world that is so much a part of their atmosphere. I do love making monograms too, I have to admit. Playing with the alphabet will never lose its appeal for my inner first grader. Although Bernhard Modern Bold is not a “Victorian” typeface, I was going for a more modern twist on the whole Victorian vibe. After all, they didn’t have hot tubs in Victorian times either. They didn’t have web sites and they didn’t have ten-million-thread-count sheets either. Things change, no? Justifying the three lines of their name made a strong statement and underlined the monogram.

For the color palette, I used a paled-back sage green ink and went back in with little threads of gold metallic foil for “veining,” and for the border. I was in love but would Jo be in love???


I showed it to her. She didn’t know what to say. We talked about it. She sent it to everybody she trusted, showed it around, lived with it for a while, thought of all the ways it was different, cautiously began to accept the idea of this giant change. It was exciting, but hard. I wondered if I was all wet, but I just had this feeling about it and stayed with her process. It took some time, but I just talked to her yesterday and she has fallen in love too. The response from her guests has been everything she and I would possibly want…they are basically crazy about it too. How amazing life is. I love happy endings.

Here is the back of their business card:


We also designed and letterpress printed letterhead, envelopes, and had their confirmation cards printed digitally. We are in the process of completing the design of her new rack cards, which are going to be very gorgeous too. I have this feeling about it…

If you are thinking of coming up to the Mendocino coast for a little getaway, you could call Jo up and ask for a reservation so you can cozy up at the Victorian Farmhouse and take advantage of their affordably indulgent, deliciously romantic welcome. And the weather is great this time of year, too. If you come up around Friday, November 6th, you can make it to my Wayzgoose too. We invite you.

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I don’t know how they manage it, but Laura Stefania and Starr Hout make clothes for you and me…even if you are twenty-something and I am hmm hmm hmm…their mixable, matchable, impeccable pieces just work and work together. They can look hip or homey, biz casual or Hepburn glamorous, perhaps depending on the attitude with which they are worn or maybe just the many environments into which they fit so naturally. Laura and Starr’s couture line of women’s clothing, Apiece Apart, is like that…chameleon-ish, beautifully cut, polished, easy to wear and to look at, and they stretch wardrobe options with a terrific mixability. We are crazy about their smart, beautiful, modern clothes for modern people of any age.

Last summer, when Laura was out visiting from New York, she came into my shop and love, love, loved the look of deep-relief letterpress on thickest imaginable papers. It was a mutual admiration society all of a sudden.

The resulting cards we made for them puts their understated logo in pearl foil on the front of an slim horizontal card. Their logo looks so good this way that they replicated the subdued look on their home page. Here is the back:


Gray ink in a modern typographical layout. One more view…


Shall we shop?

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Stacy Naquin is an interior designer from Louisiana who found me on the internet and called me up. I love the modern world. She wanted a dramatic, sophisticated, show stopping business card that expressed her sense of style, which is traditional and slightly edgy all at once. It was fun to work with Stacy on this project because she was so open to exploring things she hadn’t thought of. The resulting card, she told me, was exactly IT, plus something she didn’t expect at all: it was SEXY… When she first handed her new cards to her girlfriends, that was the word that kept coming up. Who knew??? But now that I am looking at it through the camera lens, yes, I do think it’s kind of Oh La La, don’t you?

I designed the monogram SN to demand a second look, a little investigation, the S hiding out in the middle of the N in plain daylight, but somehow also a bit mysterious and not quite there. When we printed the card on 600 gram Lettra paper (our favorite paper as you probably already know), we pressed the black solids on the front, then overprinted the N and all information in silver foil that sparks and gleams in a discreet sort of way — but a discreet bit of bling never hurt anybody.

On the backs, we left room in the center for the inevitable bit of what’s called “bruising” if you press into the paper very much. It’s the monogram in reverse, which we kind of love for its rule-breaking, renegade quality. Most times we want to avoid that, but then we like to break the law once in a while…the edgy part, maybe. We could have eased up on the front impression, but the drama quotient there would have been lowered, so we compromised and ended up embracing the iconoclastic look. The typography on the bottom is pretty quotidian except for a couple of splashes of swoopiness on the numbers, which completely pulls it out of the daily and into something altogether unexpected.



Yes, the answer is yes. We design logos. We print by letterpress. We don’t object at all to printing other people’s designs, and we do that all the time. We can put ink onto paper in a lot of ways, and try to fit your budget with all our experience and knowledge gained over the years.

It’s awfully much fun working up designs that express what people do and are, collaborating with them on the Mark that will represent them. This symbolism called the alphabet, called design, called imagination.


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Warren MacCormack has been so BUSY that it took him over six months to get to the photo shoot he promised me of his amazing Studio Z Mendocino Letterpress Business Cards. May I just say, it was worth the wait…oh, and did I mention “too busy” is a GOOD problem? The photos he took are fabulous and tell me a little about WHY he is so busy…They reflect the reflective nature of the cards we letterpress printed for him on Cranes 600 gram Lettra, the yummiest, thickest paper we can get our hands on. His already designed logo starts the reflectivity…WM and upside down it’s the same way. A big, round circle of not-too-shiny silver foil with the monogram WM reversed out, on a a big square card. That means the WM is paper that puffs up out of the silver foil circle, which is pressed into the paper with heat. This process actually re-forms the paper, giving a pronounced sculptural effect.


Warren shot the cards on a mirror, reiteration marking the rhythm of light catchment, reflecting the essence of what he does with camera and eye and art.


You may not usually think of the symbolism inherent in the card you leave behind to remind people of who you are, what you do, what you hope for, and what you represent in the world. This is the sort of magic and power I find in the work we do for you. I keep saying that letterpress printing has power in it…and I don’t mean to be all woowoo. I hear about it every day. That Art matters. That Art has power to change things, not just business but the world.

I just watched Lily Yeh’s plenary address at Bioneers online and am sitting here recovering from a good cry. I mean, tears streaming down my face… from her presentation of the work she brought to Rowanda, making public art with and of and for the ravaged people there, and how that Art manifested in getting drinking water, goats and cows, healing and recovery from too much devastation to contemplate. You can see her on YouTube soon and be amazed, inspired, called to action. I watched Salja Patel’s acted poem about the war in Afghanistan and again … Art has the power to move everything around…it is an essential of human life. How can we forget that?

So when I am making letterpress business cards, it is not just an ancient craft kept alive for making a living, it is a living Art, one that moves people in unexpected ways. Of course, I am not comparing this to the work these two women are doing, but it is also Art, and that is my point here. When you make a mosaic, a poem, a photograph, or even a letterpress business card, it is a communication, and it demands its own attention, it has its own trajectory. The message is perhaps not blatant, but the undercurrent registers and something is changed, remembered, we are participating with each other. How small a little thing, how also important.

Thank you for your Art, Warren. I’m glad you are so busy and I hope your business cards are doing their part in keeping you that way. I’m glad I get to work with Artists every day, and get to interpret their Art with my Art. What a big, round, amazing circle.

Thank you for reading my blog, everyone. I hope you tune into Bioneers tomorrow morning and listen.

One more photo of Warren’s letterpress printed business card … to reflect …


xoxo Zida

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WAYZGOOSE! 2009_Page_1

WAYZGOOSE! 2009_Page_3WAYZGOOSE! 2009_Page_4WAYZGOOSE! 2009_Page_5

We just stuffed all the envelopes and put the stamps on and it was like a bubbling cauldron of activity in the shop today. The invitations are going to land in a bunch of people’s mailboxes in the next day or two. Are you all excited???

They are so HAPPPPPPYYY! They are so GAaaaY!!! They are ICONOCLASTIC and not PLASTIC. They are SUPER FUNNNN, just like my Wayzgoose is going to be. O gee…I am really getting excited about this. It’s going to be a mob scene at the print shop. It’s going to be a big ho ho ho 25-year celebration party of being in business and doing letterpress printing and beautiful designs and ad campaigns and ephemera and the craziest things, and having the most interesting clients and the greatest time in the world for all these years. Well, we hope you will come on Friday, November sixth, and have champagne and beans and see our work, and celebrate with us. If you can’t come in person, you can see some of our work here on the blog  and on our web site (that is ALMOST finished being redesigned so please excuse our construction zone over there).

Let us know if there is anything your heart has been hankering for, like a fancy new business card or Christmas cards specially designed just for you. Or perhaps someone in your family is getting married next year and needs a gorgeous wedding invitation. We can do all that and lots more.

If you want one of our letterpress printed invitations to the Wayzgoose and don’t get one in the next week, please write us a comment here, or send an email, that includes your name and address, and we will be sure to send yours out right away.

Oh…still don’t know what a Wayzgoose is? See my blog post from October 3  that gives a little historical perspective.

I hope you can come to our party!!!



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I went to Yoga and came back to FAME.


NO, I am not going to show you a single thing, only Maria’s birthday photo. You have to wait to see the new logo. Sworn to secrecy…But you can read her progress report on this totally hot and sweaty project. We are both too excited to stand it.

Here is what Maria Bernal posted on her blog tonight:

Coming Soon: The new look of Maria Bernal Photography

by admin on Oct.12, 2009, under For photographers

Hi Everyone!! This message is for all the business owners and photographers out there that read my blog.

I.AM.SO.EXCITED.  Why?  Well, I did something for myself and my company and I think it is super awesome! What have I done?  I have been struggling with my company logo and I have been struggling with my website and all the other business stuff that goes with it all. I wanted a FULL IMAGE, I wanted NEW MARKETING materials, I wanted THE WORLD!!! Ha Ha.

Anywho…Marketing and image are a HUGE PART of a photographer’s business and I felt that I needed a huge change.  How does one go about figuring out what their company image is and what it should be? What kinds of things do you change when you go about a new marketing strategy?  Well, first, you need a SMOKIN’ logo-that is the foundation of your image. You need a great website, something that you love and that your clients will love (hopefully). New stationary, New gift cards, New envelopes, New EVERYTHING!  That is a lot to change. How do you get started?  I can tell you that I struggled because as artistic as I am, I was in my box! I could not get out of it to design my new company image. I wanted something new, bold, sexy…I could not design it :(

Then came a light at the end of the tunnel. I called one of the top designers in the country: Zida Borcich of Studio Z!  HOLY CRAP. That woman is a GENIUS!  No, not just a “genius” but a GENIUS!!! I called her up and I showed her my website and I said “Zida, I need something sleek, sexy, and uptown”.  For you car folks..I wanted a bugatti, I wanted a Maybach… mmm. She said, “ok, I understand”.  I said “Zida, I am not easy and I may take a long time to agree”. She said “I am pretty sure I understand what you are looking for”.  FOLKS-She nailed it in two days!! You ask yourself… “why do I need to hire a graphic designer to design my new marketing materials? I am an artist, I can do it.”  Well, there is NO WAY I could have come up with what she did because even as artists, we can be in our box when it comes to marketing materials.    Zida has designed new primary logo, complimentary logos for letterheads and other stuff… Zida has truly given me a new brand and I love her for that!  My new business cards that she is designing for me with the letterpress + painted edge technology will be “to die for”.  Zida is not able to put all my stuff on her website yet because I want to reveal it first but, I know it will be because she did an amazing job.

Anyway.. I thought I would let you all know that a change is coming and I love what I have seen come through this office. The new logo is..”yummy” and I am IN LOVE with it and I could never, ever have gotten there withouth Zida. So, if you are looking for that “je ne sais quoi” to separate you from others as a new business or as an existing business looking for a re-vamp. Call her. Seriously, call her.  You guys know me. I don’t spout off about just any business, I spout off about the top businesses and she is worth EVERY PENNY!!

So..Stay tuned everyone! Change is coming and I hope you like it, I know I will.


I mean, I am DOING the logo and this makes ME itchy to see it!!!

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Shawna Noel, thank you Darling, for sending us these photos of your Studio Z Mendocino letterpress printed stationery.

Back in the day, as they say, most people had what was called a Stationery Wardrobe. It was part of every civilized person’s accoutrements, like cravats and hope chests, hoop skirts and snoods. You know. So, the Stationery Wardrobe contained all manner of things to help said civilized persons get along socially and correspond in a civilized manner. There were “calling cards” of course. That would be a little card with just one’s name on it. No phone number (no phones), no URL (no computers or internet), no cell (what’s a cell?), no blog, Facebook, Flickr or Twitter info (ditto ditto ditto ditto), and no address either, even though surely these people had homes.

When one called upon an acquaintance, a Calling Cards was given to the maid, probably on a silver salver, though I was not there at that time so I am not sure about this detail. The maid would take the salver or card up to her mistress so the mistress might get up and go to the drawing room and greet the visitor without having to guess if it were the Jehovah’s Witnesses or the Fuller Brush Man calling. We have all seen this scene in every period movie ever made. Perhaps it was the Vicar. Perhaps it was the Earl from next door who wanted to ask her hand in marriage. Perhaps it was the ladies arriving for tea. I don’t really know. It was somebody calling and that somebody had a Calling Card and that is what we are talking about here.

The Calling Card of course has morphed into the Business Card and we all know what that means, full of extraneous information besides the name engraved in severe, unrelenting black ink  (see more Business Cards in previous blog posts here), and surely they are used for more than calling nowadays. Never mind the dirth of silver salvers and maids to carry them around. They are a little portable advertising power houses, but never mind that right now. We are talking about Stationery Wardrobes in the Olden Times so I will try to concentrate on that right now.

If the civilized person were invited to a grand party, a Calling Card was handed over so the name could be announced in a loud voice to the already arrived crowd. “Sir Blahbbedy Blah!” and everyone would have to look up and case the costume and hairdo and start gossiping about him.IMG_8961aweb

The rest of the Wardrobe consisted of various sizes and shapes of writing papers. In your specially made wooden box you had to have a range of formal papers, from monarch (personal size is still7.25″ x 10.5″ sheets and their matching envelopes, lined or unlined) for letters; Correspondence Cards (usually 7″ x 5″) horizontal flat cards for shorter notes and thank you messages; Informals (5.5″ x 4.23″ folding note cards and envelopes to match). Informals came in several ways: one with the woman’s first and last name, one with the couple’s two names, like “John and Jane Jones;” and one with only the husband’s name. You could also have stationery for your house, so that your house guests could write letters while visiting at your manor. I want a manor, don’t you? And there were various sizes, starting with a 5″ x 3.5″ note on up. And that was just the personal stationery. There were also several kinds of business stationery, of course. And there might be other things … for instance, personalized place cards, note pads for lists and such, gift tags, and of course your own letterpress printed book plates, which were an artform all their own. I am surely forgetting something here, but as you can see, those were the days that really kept printers busy.

When I worked for Al Moise, we used to do a lot of that kind of printing, personal informals and it was a yearly shopping spree for many ladies on the Mendocino coast. Maybe we would change the ink color year by year, but we would probably keep their type set up in the morgue and just reprint as the orders came in, doing up enough to last a year of invitations, thank you notes, condolence, notes, letters to relatives, and notes about why Johnny couldn’t make it to school yesterday.

You might think this is excessive, since emails are so much quicker and cheaper, but may I just say that having stationery to fit many occasions somehow makes one WANT to write more often, and not just an email or a Facebook post. You might find yourself using a more florid form of your own handwriting, hunting down the latest and most attractive matching stamp to put on it, thinking of poetic metaphors and wondering whom else you might want to thank. In other words, writing a note has become an occasion, and it is one of life’s little pleasures. People who receive these missives, I must tell you, find them awfully appealing. Oh!! Not a bill!!! Not another bid for a donation to a good cause!! A letter!!!!! It’s so extravagant. It’s so civilized.

Shawna Noel has what I would call a modern, slimmed down version of the  Stationery Wardrobe, and we are doing more of this type of order these daysIMG_9003awebWe made Business Cards, Buckslips (also known as Script Cards) and Envelopes for her, using her already designed, three color logo. The Calling Cards…I mean Business cards…were printed in three runs on 600 gsm Cranes Lettra. We put her Script Cards on 300 gsm Lettra, and used Cranes square flap envelopes to finish off her set.

Script cards, we find, are the perfect modern alternative to a zillion sizes and shapes of stationery. At 4″ x 9″, they fit right into a #10 envelope, which, when you need it, is also good for an 8.5″ x 11″ business sized letterhead, sending a check or request to pay up.

It all looks awfully good in tones of orange and warm gray on Flourescent White stock. Don’t you think?


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We are throwing a Wayzgoose this year. It’s going to be in my shop in Fort Bragg on First Friday, November 6th, starting at 5 pm. Several people may ask the question, What’s a Wayzgoose? In the olden days of printing, it was a printers party; the print shop boss would take his crew out into the country for a big picnic or feast to celebrate, around the time of Saint Bartholemew’s Eve, marking the time of when they would have to start printing by candlelight.

Here is a quote from the OED: “Carriages were chartered, an enormous quantity of eatables and drinkables provided, and away we
went, a regular wayzgoose or bean-feast party.”

The Cruise of the Cachalot, by Frank T Bullen, 1897

And here is another quote about Wayzgooses:

“It is also customary for all the Journey-men to make every Year new Paper Windows…; Because that day they make them, the Master Printer gives them a Way-goose; that is, he makes them a good Feast, and not only entertains them at his own House, but besides, gives them Money to spend at the Ale-house or Tavern at Night. These Way-gooses, are always kept about Bartholomew-tide. And till the Master-Printer have given this Way-goose, the Journey-men do not use to Work by Candle Light.”

Oxford English Dictionary

A Wayzgoose has a long tradition in the history of printing. The first time we heard the word we had to look it up in the Oxford English Dictionary. Then, we proceeded to throw a whole series of Wayzgooses, with different themes each year.

These days, a Wayzgoose is more often a dinner where letterpress printers gather to talk about the art they love, and believe me, that is some talking. A keepsake is often printed to commemorate the occasion, sometimes printed up right at the affair, & there can be entertainment as well. Always ready for an excuse to throw a party, Studio Z Mendocino long ago adopted the idea, turning it into an appreciation of our customers & an opportunity to show off the beautiful craft we still get to practice.

When we saw the part about the “bean-feast,” we had to look that up in the OED too. It actually means a feast, but we decided that it meant beans, and that is what our tradition became. A bean-feast with actual beans, and we would spare no creativity in serving beans from every corner of the world.

Everyone was very, “Oh, ho ho, beans and champagne!” but then they would just eat the whole feast up and drink up all the champagne, even though it was quite cheap champagne (which is what we serve instead of giving out money to go to the Ale-house), and a regular Wayzgoose was had by all, in Fort Bragg. Somehow, with all the printing and designing and whatnot, we let our Wazygoose tradition go by the wayside, but for our Twenty-fifth Anniversary, how could we not revive it? We won’t be making paper windows, nor printing by candlelight at the Studio Z Mendocino Wayzgoose, but there might be a lagniappe to take home, if all goes well. We certainly look forward to seeing you here on November 6th, to showing you our recent work, to serving champagne and beans to you and to ushering in our next twenty-five years. We hope to greet you at our party.

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