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A Letterpress Interview With Steve Ono of Japan Printing And Graphics


Steve Ono is the son of the founder of Japan Printing & Graphics, Inc. and is, for all intensive purposes, the “Customer-Service-Sales-Marketing-Vendor Relations-IT-Designer-Creative Director”. When the recession hit a few years back, one-third of the printing industry went out of business, and Steve was responsible for modernizing the operation at Japan Print and keeping the family business a success! He cares a lot about both great customer service and incredibly high quality products, so that’s why we interviewed him on one of the most popular and most exclusive services they offer at Japan Print: letterpress business cards.

How did Japan Print initially get into creating letterpress products?

Letterpress is something that only a handful of businesses in New York City can say they offer. By being one of the only printing companies to offer it, that helped us create a niche in which we produce high quality and exclusive products that customers can’t get anywhere else.

Who’s involved in the Japan Print letterpress process?

The guy that does all of our letterpressing is quite a character to say the least. He’s know as “The Presser”, for obvious reasons of course. He’s a tattoo covered, semi-senior citizen, and a cross between a hipster and a hippie. He is a perfectionist, and is probably the best letterpress operator in the business. Though he’s not always great at taking orders, he kind of does whatever the hell he wants and gets away with it because he’s really good at what he does. He’s the best letterpress-er around though and also a really nice guy!

What do your clients like best about letterpress cards you’ve made for them?

The first thing clients always say is how much they love the feel of a letterpress product. The press in the card really looks and feels impressive. In seeing the finished product, clients also often mention that letterpress cards make more of a statement than any other business cards they’ve had before.

Does the type of paper used effect the effect of letterpress?

We recommend using a thinner paper because it takes the letterpressing better, since it’s softer. With thinner paper, you are more able to both see and feel how it is pressed into the paper.

Is there a particular letterpress business card or printing project that you are proud of?

There is! It’s actually a letterpress card we did in combination with engraving for Jacob & Co. (pictured in the photo above). When he came to us, he really wanted something unique, yet simple. We combined both letterpress and engraving techniques and the result was a masterpiece that both we and Jacob & Co. were pretty impressed with.

Describe the statement you think a letterpress business card makes in 3 words.

Elegant, Tasteful, and Substantial.

Do you see letterpress continuing to last the test of time and still be popular in say the next 5 to 10 years?

I think letterpress will continue to be a highly desirable niche product. It will always be tasteful and elegant, perhaps more so in time. Unfortunately, it’s often outside of most people’s price range, which is likely why it’s a niche product in the first place.

What’s the best advice you would give someone who is on the fence about choosing a letterpress card?

Less than 1% of people out there have letterpress cards, which means it presents an opportunity to distinguish yourself. The letterpress finish has also withstood the test of time. It’s also a relative bargain when you compare it to the costs for other high end finishes that are used on business cards these days.

Japan Printing and Graphics