Printing/Marketing Services Feedback

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I am considering printing some post cards to announce an upcoming show and decided to see what online options were available.. I realize that affordability and quality often are balanced differently with each company, so I asked for sample kits from three companies that were mentioned in a variety of blog posts and on several web sites. All three offered free sample kits that can easily be ordered online, and so far the results have been interesting. The three companies that I chose to contact were:



I ordered sample kits from all three on the same day, and received order confirmations from Moo and ONP immediately. In less than a week, kits arrived from Moo and GP, but nothing from ONP except for a USPS tracking number that had been initiated, but showed no data.

Moo is a big name with many of the online photo storage companies, and while I had heard mostly good things about their service, there were a few concerning comments about their print qualaity, and about some de-laminating of their glossy business cards around the edges. I cannot really comment on the latter issue, but the samples I received seemed fine.

I had never heard of GP until I began researching the other two companies. They seem like a well-established, full service company, and their customers seemed satisfied with both service and product. The sample packet that I received was about twice the size of the one that Moo sent, and was full of a variety of products. Its great to such a variety of marketing products, and they all seemed well printed.

While ONP sent me a mail tracking number on March 26 and told me my order had been shipped, I decided to contact them today to see if they could provide any additional information. I received a reply that informed me that since I ordered a free sample kit, I needed to submit another order. Unfortunately, no explanation about my first order was provided. As such, I am not really certain if there is a reason to re-submit my order since the other two companies responded so promptly. And, IIRC, there were quite a large number of complaints about lost or missing orders from ONP, but I wanted to give them a chance. However, I am not certain if I have the time and patience for a second chance since I seem to have two good choices.

I am still working on designing the announcement cards and would appreciate any feedback that folks have had with Moo or GP, or any other recommended printing companies.

Thanks,

--Ken
 
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I started using Moo in 2009, and would not hesitate to recommend them. I've never had their cards delaminate.

Thanks for the feedback, Mark. It sounded like people were putting them in their pocket, and were finding the corners peeling up. I am not sure this is a Moo problem, as much as possibly unrealistic expectations. I am still leaning towards GotPrint, but I would not hesitate to use Moo. They seem to have very attentive customer service.

--Ken
 
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A brief update and a few quick questions. First, I was able to find a local printer for consideration as well. I have no objections to Moo, but I like to do business locally if it makes sense, and this may be one of those situations. Now, on to the questions.

I need to layout/design my postcards, and was hoping to place some text on top of an image on one side. I have MS Publisher installed, and own a copy of Elements v.8, but am not certain that either is the tool of choice. My current budget does not permit the purchase of a legitimate license for any of Adobe's CS products, and I am not certain that I have the time to jump on a totally new learning curve. Will either of these pieces of software allow me to overlay text on an image and output a file that a printing lab can effectively use for printing? Or, are any of the public domain programs like GIMP or Scribus worth my time and consideration?

Finally, if I do install Elements v.8, will this cause me any immediate grief with LR? I am currently using 3.6 and need to install 4.4, but time and energy are critical resources for me right now, and the last thing I need is to have problems with my W7-64 system. I have been in a "if it ain't broke, don't f#$k with it mode" for the past few months, but that is beginning to be a problem with output. Nonetheless, I really do not need to straighten out any installation headaches, so I want to approach any system changes with some caution. Any advice is greatly appreciated as I am seriously behind on all fronts, and only able to fire on a few cylinders at best these days. :meh:

Thanks,

--Ken
 
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I'm not aware of any incompatibilities with Elements 8.
 
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I'm not aware of any incompatibilities with Elements 8.

Thank you, Victoria. My concern was about PSE8 installing some type of Bridge-like program to "manage" my images. For the time being, I am envisioning PSE as a place where exported images go if they need special work, like the creation of an image with a text overlay. Perhaps later I will incorporate it into my LR workflow, but for now, I need to KISS.

--Ken
 
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It does include an Organizer, but you don't have to use it.
 

amazz

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I've been in graphics arts since before photoshop 5, and please stay away from ms publisher if you want good results. If elements can output a pdf then use that, just be sure to imbed the fonts and make sure any black text is 100% black, not rgb black. The program of choice would be InDesign, but the learning curve is a little steep. Once you decide on a lab, contact them and just ask what kind of file they would prefer.

Art
 
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I've been in graphics arts since before photoshop 5, and please stay away from ms publisher if you want good results. If elements can output a pdf then use that, just be sure to imbed the fonts and make sure any black text is 100% black, not rgb black. The program of choice would be InDesign, but the learning curve is a little steep. Once you decide on a lab, contact them and just ask what kind of file they would prefer.

Art

Art,

Thanks for the words of wisdom. I did load up Elements to use instead of Publisher as an interim solution. And I have also found a few more printers/labs than I listed in my OP, both online and local, that are now under consideration for producing marketing materials. Most seem to want PDF files from Photoshop, but I believe that Elements has that export capability. The world of pixel-based editors is a bit new to me, as I was dabbling with Picture Window Pro (in conjunction with iMatch) before I switched to LR in 2007, where I have done all of my post-processing. Since I am mostly needing to lay text over images, I am hoping that my learning curve will be a bit less steep. The time to my show is quickly running out, and I as little friction between the wheels as possible. One final question about Elements, is there any way that I can use the clone tool on me so I can possibly get twice as much work done before my deadlines? :rolleyes:

Thanks,

--Ken
 

amazz

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Ken,

Not sure I understand the question, but edit in elements is very much like photoshop, the biggest difference is elements is rgb only and ps does cmyk plus others. My suggestion is to use layers in elements when adding text or other images as you can turn the layers on/off to see the effect, using layers is also non-destructive. I think you can flatten the file for output. Check out adobe tv or you tube for info on using layers.

Art
 
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Thanks for the additional suggestions, Art. The question about the clone tool was a bad attempt at humor. I am behind schedule, and could use the assistance of an extra person, hence the reference to the clone tool. My bad humor aside, your suggestions are helpful as I move forward, as some labs seems to want CMYK files. Graphics and printing are a very different world than just printing photographic images. Some days I feel like I waded into the deep end of the pool! But at least my head is still above water.

Thanks,

--Ken
 

amazz

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Opps, missed the humor, sometimes I can be a little thick. Printing rgb to cmyk can be comverted on the fly, if your using 4 color process (cmyk). Most people would not know the difference and 99% of the ones that say they do, don't. Spot colors will show a difference, where the ink is the color (pms) and not made up of process (cmyk). Converting your final rbg file to cmyk in photoshop is no different that what the printer would do in their rip.

Art
 
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A brief update. I was visiting an art gallery owned by an old friend, and saw her promotional post cards on her desk. She informed me that she uses Modern Postcard for her work. I found them on the web, along with their sister site, simplecard.com, and just received my first order today. I am very happy with the final product, as well as their product lines and customer service. And, their post cards can be as much as a third of the price of those offered at Moo. I know there are many fine places that can do printing/marketing materials, but I would highly recommend Modern Postcard and Simplecard for your consideration. And if perchance you open an account by phone with them, you can ask for Charles ("Charlie"). He helped me out with my first order, and was a pleasure to work with. Although, I have to admit that his colleagues were equally helpful. My second order will be here late next week, and I am looking forward to receiving it. I may still try out some other companies, as I have only received my first order, but it's nice to get off to a good start.

--Ken

P.S. Full disclaimer - I have absolutely no relationship to the company, or to Charles, and am not receiving any compensation or discount for writing this post. I just wanted to share a good experience in case others are looking for similar services.
 
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MY second order came last Friday, and I am quite pleased with them as well. All changes were done to the final proof as requested, the cards shipped earlier than expected and were well packed, and I even received a follow-up call today from Charlie to make sure that I was happy. I like working with Modern Postcard, and am looking forward to placing another order with them for some cards later this year. :D

--Ken
 
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