Thursday, March 22, 2012

pantone universe

Morning Pals,

Thought I'd take a moment to share a little product knowledge with you this morning. Truth is, because we do so much design and printing here at Gus & Ruby Letterpress, sometimes knowledge about the design process and community is taken for granted. We assume people know more than they may in fact know (or understand, for that matter) about what we do! It's always our goal to be sure that clients have a pretty great understanding when they leave the shop though... about our background, services, and the letterpress printing process in general. And it seems as though most love to learn about it, because let's be honest, letterpress printing is SUPER RAD.

When I unpacked our shipment of Pantone mugs this morning, I immediately was reminded of a customer who dropped in around the holidays and inquired as to whether "Pantone University was located nearby" :)

For those of you who know design or who have a brief understanding of what Pantone is, you'll get a little chuckle after reading this comment to yourself. But in all honesty, we have A LOT of customers who come through who ask what Pantone is when they see our bright and beautiful coffee mugs, and so I thought I'd share a pretty little picture of our newest lineup of Pantone mugs, and share a bit of background knowledge. Because knowledge is power. And so is Pantone.

It all started way back in the good ole' year of 1963 when a gent named Lawrence Herbert decided that it was officially necessary to have a system of identifying, matching, and communicating colors universally between members of the design community. This was the birth of the Pantone Matching System, a fan-shaped booklet made up of standardized color swatches that were each assigned specific numbers. Each color was and still is developed from a specific mix of other bases, and the greatest thing about Pantone is that each and every color is completely unique unto itself. PMS 172 (as can be seen in the foreground of the photograph above) is the only 172 that exists, so when looking for a hot, saturated red/orange, this would be an appropriate color choice. And, the idea is that one of you out there could call us from where ever it is that you are and say, "I want some personal stationery printed in PMS 172" and we would do it, knowing exactly what color you want (rather than trying to determine which reddish-orange color you are looking for!)

Colors can be SO tricky, and even trickier is the process of deciphering what clients are asking for when they say "I want true navy". Having a swatch book for them to peruse allows them to signify to us what navy, exactly, they want (because there are LOTS and LOTS of colors that could fall in the category of navy). Wasn't that Lawrence dude a genius?!

And so Pantone revolutionized the way that the graphic arts community was able to communicate about color, and had it not been for Lawrence we might still be breaking up arguments between bride and groom about what charcoal gray is :) The accuracy with which we are able to talk productively to fellow designers all around the country about printing projects is due in a huge way to the Pantone Matching System, and we literally don't know what we'd do if our little fan book of colors didn't exist!

And now.....
For all of you who are up-to-date on the roots from whence Pantone came, feel free to come and grab a mug at the shop so you can impress all your friends with your impeccable taste in color (and your extensive knowledge of the history of Pantone).

That's it for today pals, have an INCREDIBLE one!
xo Lizzy


  1. thank you! what a great and easy to read pantone history! which pantone color fan do you have and/or recommend to a beginer in graphic design?

  2. Hi Suzy! We use a solid, uncoated pantone fan because it provides appropriate color matching for letterpress printing. So, it would depend on the type of printing your design work involves. For digital/offset printers, there is a coated version that has more a sheen to each swatch... there are interior design focused fans too! Our recommendation would be to get the one that makes the most sense for your ultimate career field -

    Hope this helps!!