5 Things Every Stationery Designer Needs to Know : Industry Basics

Welcome back to our third week of our blog series for running a stationery business! I have really enjoyed putting these posts together and have some amazing content planned over the next several weeks. If you’re just tuning in, I am putting together a blog series for 12 weeks that is chock full of great advice, tips and freebies to help stationers (and calligraphers) run their stationery business to the fullest. Below are links for our previous posts:

Week 1: 3 tips for starting a stationery design business
Week 2: How I prepare an invitation for print

This week we are going to talk about 5 things every stationery designer needs to know if they are in the stationery business or thinking of starting a stationery business. If you’re a veteran to the stationery world, some of these may seem a little basic, but friend, they are oh so important!

1. Industry Terminology

There is nothing worse than talking to a printer or industry peers and feeling like you don’t have a clue what you’re talking about. There are so many ins and outs in the stationery industry and one of those huge items is terminology. Between designing, print production and post production there is a slew of terminology that needs to become everyday language. Knowing the difference between RGB/CMYK/PMS/HEX colors is essential when starting your design and preparing it for print. Do you know crop marks, bleed marks (what the heck is bleed!?) What file format do you need for your files, PDF/EPS/JPEG/PNG? These are some of the key essential every designer needs to know when starting out. Trust me, it will save you some major headache in the long run.


2. How to measure and calculate

Raise your hand if you’ve ever ordered prints or inserts in the wrong size and you don’t realize it until you go to assemble them they day before they’re due to the client. Insert full on panic mode. There is a saying, “measure twice, cut once”, this can be applied to our industry as well, I like to say “measure thrice, order once”, it doesn’t roll off the tongue as nicely, but it is a crucial step. It can be applied to multiple card sizes that go into a design and need to line up perfectly, inserts that need to be an exact size to be inserted into an envelope, backings that need to be precisely 1/8” larger to assemble properly, the amount of ribbon you need for an order, it could go on and on. A majority of our job consists of calculating and measuring every single detail (three times!) to make sure when all the pieces come together at the end for assembly, there are no unexpected surprises and assembly goes as smooth as possible!

3. How to design in InDesign or Illustrator

There I said it, those are the only two programs you should be using to design invitations and stationery in. Photoshop is not a design program. I repeat, it is not a design program. Photoshop is a photo editing platform. It was not designed to layout designs and text in. You need to hunker down and pick which program you prefer best out of InDesign and Illustrator and learn it like nobody’s business. I do think it is beneficial to know both of them, even if you know one better than the other. They both really do have great qualities that they do on their own, but a majority of what you need could be done on both. I prefer to layout and design all of my suites in InDesign (that just was the preferred design tool in college and it stuck), however, I still know Illustrator pretty well and use it to assist in my designs.

4. How to prep a file for print

Last week, I went into great detail about how important this item is. It can truly make or break your project. You can design pretty things all day long, but if you don’t know how to properly execute production, your business and your sleep will definitely suffer. Hop on over to my last blog posts to read my 6 steps for preparing an invitation for print.

5. How to handle clients

This should be a given, but you would be surprised how many business fail because they simply don’t know how to develop a good client relationship. That includes the good, bad and ugly that may come with a client. If you’re in the wedding stationery, you’re dealing with couples (and mothers!) who are on cloud 9 about planning their wedding and are generally great to work with. However, there are times where situations may arise where you have to put on your big girl pants and remember that you are still a business and you (and your attitude) reflect that business. My business model is to truly develop good relationships with my clients, after all we are usually working together for sometimes 6-12 months! I love becoming friends with my clients and seeing how their lives go even after the big day. I have been blessed over the last decade and can only count on one hand the number of times a not so great situation came up that I had to handle. The great thing about today though is there are so many wonderful groups and other industry professionals that make amazing sounding boards and  can help coach you through these situations should they arise.


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I'm flattered that you've stopped by to see what I have to write about! I am definitely no blogger, by any means, but I love the idea of being open and transparent with my clients and followers. I’m a designer, wife, and mama to three beautiful little girls. Follow along to get a glimpse of my work, behind the scenes details and musings from my everyday life. Enjoy!