Making Work for Idle Hands

Though I left Behavior at the end of December, I won’t start my new position at The New York Times until next Tuesday, 17 January. This has left me with roughly two weeks off, the first such period I’ve had to myself — with no getaways to exotic locales, no long trips to see family, and no short excursions to New Jersey to see Joy’s family — in a long time. One might have expected me to spend this two weeks watching movies, meeting for social lunches and/or drinking nightly, but I can’t imagine feeling like I have less time for those sorts of distractions.

Rather, I made a long list of Things to Do, goals large and small that have been nagging at me for attention for ages: sell some old junk on Ebay, buy new shelves, re-organize my file cabinet, buy that long-delayed wedding gift for a friend who got married last summer, and tie up a few loose ends remaining from my commitments at Behavior. Every morning I go over the list again, then spend my day putting check-marks next to as many items as I can; unfortunately, I’ll inevitably add as many new tasks as I finish. The net result is that I feel busier, and in some ways more productive, than ever. I don’t know how I ever found time for a real job.

From Here to Austin

I’ve also been working on some side-projects, trying to get some creative productivity going here, too, not to mention rushing to meet some extra-curricular deadlines to which I’d long ago committed. One of these is a panel presentation I’ll be making with some colleagues at this year’s South by Southwest Interactive Festival. We have a pretty big mountain to climb in order to get it all done (thank goodness I had this time off), but if we manage it, I can promise it will be worth it for you to attend. Our session will happen on Sat 11 Mar, and I’ll post more details about it here soon. If you’re considering attending SXSW this year, hurry up and book that trip. The word is that this year’s festival attendance will be a few orders of magnitude greater than last year’s, and several hotels have already sold out.

Print Me Up

Some of these side-projects will require some offset printing; most of those familiar with my design biases know that I stay away from print work as much as I can, especially if I have to bankroll it on my own. But in this instance, I don’t think I can avoid it.

When I worked in a traditional design studio in Washington, D.C., I had relationships with local printers, and I was able to negotiate some decent prices when I ran my own, personal jobs. Now, having lived in New York for eight years and having done only a few print jobs since, I have almost no such contacts.

But the print job I have at hand isn’t particularly urgent: if I can get it done within a month, I’ll be happy. Which got me thinking: I bet there are some deals to be found if I send it to a vendor in some other part of the country, managing the process remotely over the Internet. There’s got to be some cost savings if the job runs on a press in, say, the midwest versus TriBeCa, New York, right?

Offset Printer Wanted

After some preliminary research, the few online vendors I’ve found offer discounts primarily on CMYK jobs, which they can gang up with other jobs and run en masse. I have nothing against that, but this job is a business card using PANTONE colors; translating the design to four-color process would ruin the effect I’m going for. Most of the vendors that do offer spot colors, though, don’t offer a tremendous savings over what I’ve seen from local print shops.

So I’m appealing to the print designers out there who may have had experience with this sort of thing: if you know of a trustworthy printing shop that will give me a decent price on a one- or two-color run of standard-sized business cards, please let me know. I’d appreciate the information greatly, not to mention the chance to check off another item from my list.

  1. If you want to go truly global, you may want to try FotoPrint, on Vancouver Island, BC. We use them extensively for short run, and the quality is quite good. Plus, it’ll be in Canadian dollars.

  2. I don’t have information to trade, but I need the same thing. I am curious about the DC printers you used. Unfortunately my grandfathers print shop is gone (decades ago) or we would have both had a solution.

  3. How do you feel about sending off to Australia? Aussie dollars are even MORE pathetic than Canadian ones (and you could always have somebody bring the good to SXSW on your behalf…)

  4. “The net result is that I feel busier, and in some ways more productive, than ever. I don’t know how I ever found time for a real job.”

    I hear you! Similar to how a traveller’s pack is full no matter what size it is, There will always be tasks if you go looking for them. It helps to keep perspective on what is important, and what is merely urgent (!). Enjoy your free time Khoi.

  5. Depending on the goal of your piece, you might wanna consider some shops in Chinatown (those menu-maker-types). For one or two colors, uncoated, not super-tight registration, they could be a good fit. Very cheap. Just be careful about the cutting – or bring it somewhere else. Have some old project work samples if you’d like to see…

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