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Hellovetica–Letterpress gift

Branding & Identity

Part of the Real Jobs scheme, this project set out to create gifts that would be mailed to potential applicants that visited the department on portfolio days. The deliverables for this project were a letterpress card, printed and mailed at the end of each portfolio day, and a meet and greet card of sorts that applicants would find on their portfolios and then take home with them.

This project was done in collaboration with Seniz Hussein, we designed and printed the gifts together; visit her Instagram to view more of her work.

Finished gift, one of many, ready to be posted off. 'You had us at Hello', is read when the gift is closed.

First years to the typography course were given a questionnaire asking what kind of things they received from other universities when applying, and what sort of impression they got from this. The answers to these informed the idea of creating something special using the tools and resources available in the typography department; receiving something that’s handmade by the department makes it quite special and unique.

When deciding what the gift should say, it was discussed early on through client meetings that these should have a quirky typographic phrase; or pun almost, to leave a lasting impression on the applicants.

The centre point for these phrases were typeface names; seeing what smart message could be derived from names such as Futura and Bodoni was quite fun, and in the end the chosen phrase ‘You had us at Hello–Helvetica’. The idea being as the applicant took the gift out of the envelope it would read ‘Hello’ and unfolding it would read ‘Helvetica’ which is a pretty neat and fun concept that could be developed for the future.

Printing applicant gift on roller press, polymer plate is inked and ready.

Using a letterpress was an absolute must for this project. Firstly because making something by hand is 100x more special than something that’s not, and secondly because letterpress is cool and this was a good opportunity to show off the letterpress side of the department.

Typesetting the entire gift would have been a long process, the department had metal type sure but there was no Helvetica and even if there was it would’ve taken more time than was available at the time to create the forms.

To save time, the gift was typeset within InDesign using Helvetica; however this was true for about 90% of the content as there was still a chance to include the letterpress element into the design.

The masthead for the gift was printed using photopolymer plates; a light sensitive material and a contemporary approach to creating printing plates for letterpress. Each plate was mounted onto a wooden block; however not immediately ready for production printing as a few test prints had to be done first in order to create a ‘make–ready’ out of thin sheets of paper to adjust pressure and bring the old blocks to type height.

Masthead gift, from plate to gifts hanging to dry.

The first round of test printing took a good day to get everything right; this included setting the alignment with a form for the blocks, the right pressure with a make–ready, right amount of ink and passes with the press, and also how many gifts could be printed in a certain amount of time.

Printing back of the gift, 'lo' covers up 'vetica' to read 'Hello'.

Considering that there would be around 20 applicants each week; around 30 blank gifts would have to be printed and trimmed in advance. Having the extra 10 copies relaxes any mistakes made whilst printing, such as smudges and printing bugs, and printing with all 30 copies would take 2–3 hours.

On portfolio day, each of the applicants’ portfolios are reviewed by lecturers where they look at the presented work and written essays. For this project, we as students were also permitted to look at the applicants’ work and then write what we liked about it on the back of the gifts. This was a nice way for each applicant to receive personalised messages from other students.

'You had us at Helvetica', is read when the gift is openned.

Folding was done at least one day after printing, once the ink had time to dry, and this was done every two weeks meaning there were two batches of gifts for scoring (maximum 60). Each gift was carefully scored, folded, and placed inside a parcel ready to be posted off to the applicant.

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