“I want something more elegant, more sophisticated,” I said, motioning ineffectually with my hands.

I was explaining my vision of a new logo for San Diego Home Photography to my friend, Jason. He’s an artist and former graphic designer; I figured he might have an idea or two. It’s been over three years since Kirk and I came up with our first (and still current) logo, the grey and blue camera ’emoticon.’

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“I’m thinking of a Frank Lloyd Wright roof… Maybe the side of a house and a roof arc over San Diego Home Photography…”

Just recently I’d run out of business cards. It was the perfect time to upgrade my logo — before doing a new print run. In the last few weeks, a half dozen people had asked for my card, and writing my contact information on scraps of paper was getting ridiculous, not to mention unprofessional. I needed a new logo and new cards, pronto.

Jason flipped his laptop around to show me the screen. “What’d you think?”

My jaw dropped. It’d taken him less than five minutes, and he nailed it.

“Love it.”

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With the design a done deal, we were off to print at Quality Letterpress in San Diego. Jason (aka TEKSTartist) prints his new designs here every week. Last Tuesday at the shop, Jason oversaw the printing of his recent piece, Seek Adventure, and I, my business cards.

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Tim, the owner of the shop, is a total character. Last week he got some call from some guy about OSHA compliance, or something like that. “My machines are 100 years old, think I give a shit about OSHA guidelines?” he quipped.

He’s got crazy stories about partying with famous actors and musicians. He, himself, is a bass guitarist for Sha Na Na.

Tim’s a riot, but when printing doesn’t go according to plan — which is often the case with Jason’s designs — he flies into a rage. Jason is constantly pushing the limits of  letterpress printing by incorporating different colors and foils in his often complicated designs. It drives Tim mad.

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Tim is never actually angry with Jason. He’s in a love-hate relationship with his century-old presses.

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Jason’s Seek Adventure plate, inked and ready to go.

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There’s a quote hidden in the girl’s hair. Read it here.

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Of course, the printing of Jason’s design didn’t going very well. The machine kept leaving an extra mark near the edge of the paper, rendering the print worthless. While Tim and Jason tried to figure out the problem, I carried on shooting.

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My business card plate (above). This is placed in the press (below), rolled with ink, and stamped into the paper. In contrast to Jason’s pieces, my cards were a cakewalk. One color, no foil, no fuss. Done in an hour.

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Another TEKSTartist piece (below).

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Another TEKSTartist design (below).

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Lovebird was the first piece of Jason’s I bought, back when he didn’t know me and I only knew him as that guy who puts words in his art. I saw his work hanging at a local coffee shop I frequented. The bird was printed on a tiny magnet I bought for Kirk for Valentine’s Day. It’s still on our fridge.

Since then, I’ve bought this piece and of course, this piece. And this one still needs a frame (and will be hung after Kirk and I move to our new apartment in October).

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Tim’s dog, Ava. Total sweetheart.

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Checking out the impression on my cards in the sunlight.

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Off to get cut. Three hundred cards should last a while.

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Catching me catching them, Tim and Jason start hamming it up.

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It’s hard to see, but Tim is wielding an X-Acto knife (below). “For all your crazy-ass designs!”

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Real discussion on the color of an up-coming design.

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This is the same type (font) used for old wanted posters.

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Tim never did stab Jason, and just as Jason predicted, Tim was eventually able to figure out the problem with his press. Seek Adventure turned out after all.

So did my cards. ☼

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