My OTA Experience

Have you ever been involved in something so amazing that it is hard to put your thoughts and feelings into words because you are worried that some small, but ridiculously important detail will be overlooked? That was OTA for me and Spark.


OTA is a collaborative of creative catalysts and community changemakers that connects the social and creative capital of South Dakota, North Dakota and Minnesota. You can learn more by visiting the OTA website. OTA founder and curator, Hugh Weber, was kind enough to bring Spark on board as a production partner for this year's event, which means we were able to be a part of the fun printed collateral created for the event.

On March 15 the people of OTA converged on the Augustana College campus to take in a killer line-up of speakers. I'm not sure if I should refer to this group of fantastic individuals as speakers because they really were something far more exceptional. They didn't come to rattle off a few statistics or blandly sell a product or idea. They came to engage, entertain and inspire, all the while exceeding our expectations. Throughout the course of the day I was taken to lands near and far, provoked to think about abstract ideas and concrete solutions, challenged to live my life with more everything-that-is-awesome and less of the ordinary and expected.

Some of my favorite quotes from the day:

"Exceptional people can tell you why they are." -Ricardo Crespo of 20th Century Fox

"Do good work for good people." -Aaron Draplin of Draplin Design Co.

"You can't A/B test your way to a vision." -Karina van Schaardenburg of Foursquare

And pretty much everything that was said by Dave Brown of Holiday Matinee and MKG

Be sure to check out:

Pencils of Promise: What Adam Braun has accomplished since 2008 will astound you. The world needs more people like him who are willing to do what it takes to make a difference in the lives of children around the world.

Ferocious Quarterly: How could I not love what Nate Utesch has done to beautifully capture the talents of current artists? The power of print is alive and well in this publication.

Pre-Session Mailing

The first pieces we designed and printed were for a pre-session mailing to the speakers that they received two weeks before the event. The two pieces were wrapped in kraft paper, and tied with baker's twine and a note welcoming them to the OTA family.

Inside we had a card that asked the speakers to tell OTAns what they had  in store for them. The cards said "Hey OTAns, preapre to be ______________ on  March 15, 2013." Here are some examples of what was received. Fun,  right?


The other piece in the mailing was an art print we designed of the OTA region  including a vintage map in tone-on-tone transparent white, custom  opaque red and black inks. We outlined the states with the speakers'  names and used the intersections language from the OTA manifesto to tie  it all together. Both pieces were printed on 29 pt. chipboard on the same press sheet on our Heidelberg KS Cylinder. 

Stay tuned for my next post about the OTA manifesto and class of 2013 prints and the other pieces!


Stay tuned for my next post about the OTA manifesto and class of 2013 prints and the other pieces!


Chipboard? What were we thinking?

As a letterpress printer, we get wonderful samples of paper by mail. Luxurious cotton stocks, fun metallics, seed name it, we've seen it. So, imagine the surprise of our paper distributor in Minneapolis when we told him we were bringing in some chipboard stock (ranging 30-40pt). They know we print primarily fine stationery products, so they were a little confused by our need for a non-luxury, no thrills stock.

We first used chipboard back in 2008 when we came out with our Loop products, featuring artwork by a local artist, Kate Puetz. When she came up with the Loop animals, we just didn't want to print them on white paper. Valerie decided to print on chipboard. It performed very well and took a nice impression. The only "issue" we have with chipboard is that it dulls our cutter very quickly. You also have to be OK with the fact that chipboard will have flecks and vary from sheet to sheet, but that's the beauty of a recycled product.

We certainly can't forget to mention the above business cards designed by Flush Designs and printed by Spark. The Dirty Roots cards turned out wonderfully. These cards are a double-sided print on a 40pt. chipboard stock. The chipboard has enough heft to it that we could achieve a great impression both sides.

The Thie Custom Homes business cards were designed and printed here just a couple months ago for a local home builder. Our client has a unique card that makes an impression with his current and prospective clients.

If you are thinking of using chipboard for your next letterpress product, give us a ring. We are more than happy to send you a sample so you can see it for yourself!

Elephants on Parade!

Spark's Elephant Invitation (#5) from our Loop Collection is featured in the most recent issue of Stationery Trends magazine. Loop utilizes 100% recycled chipboard and recycled packaging for all of its products, and is letterpress-printed of course! The entire collection which includes four different animals (tiger, whale, kangaroo and elephant) was illustrated and designed by one of our very own talented designers, Kate. In addition to the party invitation shown, the collection is completed by coasters, gift tags, notepads and postcards. The line is starting to pop up at retailers nationwide, so be on the lookout!