Capital Offset, Concord, NHJune 1, 2010
"I see some companies' names and I can't tell what they actually do," Stewart relates. "Sometimes I hear the name and I think, what are you and what does it mean? I haven't felt a compulsion to rebrand my company to some other name that hides the fact we're printers."
There's no crisis of identity at Capital Offset, where craft is king and the process is almost as much a work of art as the piece itself. It competes in four major disciplines, led by the production of museum and gallery books, along with fine art photography. A recent job for Capital Offset was an illustrative book containing all the design and art from the Obama campaign; the result of which, Stewart proudly (and rightly so) notes, will end up on the president's desk.
The other three legs to the Capital Offset stool are special-edition, illustrated books (memoirs, corporate histories); educational (alumni publications and viewbooks for independent schools and universities); and general commercial printing.
It's easy to tell that Stewart has a soft spot and a passion for the art books. Capital Offset enjoys a fairly wide berth for this discipline in the Northeast, and it's Stewart's eye for color and matching proofs against the original artworks that keeps his services in demand.
"I tend to travel a lot, going to client sites—museums, galleries—to review our proofs against the original art," he says. "We also photograph collections; we'll bring our photographer and set up a laptop and camera for the shoot. We regularly print 300 line screen tritone and duotone work on coated or uncoated stocks, which is required for the photography reproduction side of our work."
While acknowledging that many publishers opt to outsource premium illustrated books overseas, Stewart notes that not all clients are motivated solely by price. "Certainly, offshore printers are a major, competitive force," he says. "But, there are plenty of reasons for clients to print their jobs in the United States, including press checks, trust and speed."
Often, there isn't enough lead time prior to an exhibit or event to accommodate delivery by boat. And, when detail and subtlety are factored in, along with the client's desire to "live through" the color approval process, it is printers like Stewart who have the experience and respect that provides peace of mind.