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Goosefish Press Does Printing the Old School Way

By Pamela Sosnowski

In today's digital-laden world, Robert Charlton's Boston-based printing shop, Goosefish Press, stands out. Since 2005 his shop has been printing new announcements, business cards, wedding invitations and more in a very old school way: with antique letterpress equipment and hand-mixed inks for just the right look.

"I really think that if I went back to a print shop in 1500s Venice or 1700s Amsterdam and brought one of the printers there back to my shop, they'd know exactly what I do and how I do it very quickly," he said. "There's very much a connection to the history of printing for me."

It's a throwback to printing before the WWII era, and it's what has helped the shop rack up numerous awards for its uniqueness, quality, and service. Located in Boston's South End neighborhood, the shop and its equipment is capable of turning out printed materials that are as unique as each client's needs. Other than samples available on the company's website, there are no catalogs or books full of cookie cutter designs to flip through. Charlton and his staff prefer to hear the client's ideas and create a distinctive design for their special occasion.

"People simply tell me what they want and we make it for them," he said. "So there's a lot of originality and what we do, but also, people feel involved in the process and get a final product that is really tailored to their tastes and styles."

Another advantage to hiring Goosefish Press is the price. There's no middleman, and the entire process from design to the final product is therefore streamlined. Being well experienced in printing supplemental event materials such as menus, signage, escort cards and more makes them an ideal one-stop shop for most people's needs.

Projects at Goosefish Press are very much a hands-on process. Some of the physical tasks involved include mixing the inks by hand, feeding the paper into the press, and trimming it by hand. With this type of manual effort required, the only downside to using letterpress printing is the extra time needed to turn around projects; Charlton typically needs four to six weeks to complete a job.

The shop's work as appeared in the media several times including the Fox 25 Morning News, and in several publications such as The Improper Bostonian, The Boston Business Journal, and Boston Magazine.

Goosefish's online shop offers an assortment of greeting cards, name tags, invitations and other stationery that may be ordered directly online or simply viewed to get a better idea of the company's portfolio. Most invitation sets begin at $750 for a quantity of 100, but Charlton can work with clients to create materials that fit their budget.

After 12 years in business, the printmaker says he still learns something new every day on the job.

"There's still a certain alchemy that happens when I take the first impression and see what something looks like when metal is pressed into paper," he explains. "I really do like the idea that we make something here. I enjoy the design element of what I do, but the actual process of seeing something printed so nicely is something I'll never get tired of."

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