“Fun & Games” by J.S. McCarthy

by Lara Copeland, contributing editor, PostPress

“We are going to keep innovating and doing more and being better.” That is what J.S. McCarthy Vice President of Marketing Michael Tardiff said last year after the company received the Foil and Specialty Effects Association (FSEA) “Best of Show” award for its 2017 self-promotion calendar aptly titled “A Symphony in Color.” This year, the team at J.S. McCarthy (JSM), Augusta, Maine, did exactly as Tardiff said they would. Its 2018 self-promotion calendar again won “Best of Show,” leaving Tardiff feeling both flattered and surprised.

FSEA Executive Director Jeff Peterson was just as surprised as Tardiff. “This was our 25th anniversary presenting our FSEA Gold Leaf Awards,” stated Peterson. “We’ve never had back-to-back Best of Show winners. It is certainly a testament to the outstanding work and creativity J.S. McCarthy has put into their self-promotion calendars.””

Tardiff, who has worked on the company’s calendars since 2010, said that the theme is something the design team – which consists of his mother, Patty Tardiff, special projects; designer Sue Bourdon of Bourdon and Company and himself – thoughtfully chooses each year. “In our first meeting, we throw ideas out and usually the one that keeps the conversation going is the winner,” Tardiff explained. This year, the idea of “Fun & Games” started as the team reflected on all their favorite board games, which then evolved into figuring out how they could highlight those with special effects. “That’s when we decided to design a game box,” he continued. “It was a ‘game changer’ for us since it highlighted the very thing we were looking to showcase: our packaging capabilities.” The “Fun & Games” theme offered JSM the opportunity to achieve a design aesthetic that highlighted the most processes it could in the best manner possible.

JSM’s printing operation serves several markets – from designers at various colleges to purchasing agents at health care companies. Tardiff said, “We have a wide range of customers that this calendar hits, so we have to be careful to not overdesign – we need to reach a broad audience.” Tardiff commented that most in the industry are aware that JSM can do coatings, foil, diecutting and embossing, but the team wanted its folding carton capabilities to be acknowledged since it is a growing segment. Assuming most people in the world have fond memories of childhood games, the designers moved forward with the theme and began attempting to incorporate its carton capabilities into the project.

“We decided to create a box design that had that look of a leather box – like you’d see an old-fashioned Scrabble game come in,” Tardiff said. The box was printed with a stock image of pebble leather and then the title of the piece (2018 Fun & Games) was foil stamped in a metallic blue and the company name in metallic silver. A cribbage tray was then added to store a deck of cards, which “allowed us to do a bigger box to give a bigger wow,” he said.

The company’s HUV Komori Perfector was used to print process inks on the outer box on 24pt tango C2S heavy weight white. The inside of the box cover includes the production notes for each month of the calendar. As stated earlier, using an SBL foil stamper, the box received blue and silver foil on the cover of the box with the company name and title. The box also was run through a Bobst VisionFold and a Bobst ExpertFold for folding and gluing. The cribbage tray was printed on 24pt. Carolina Cover White to create the wooden and felt backgrounds. Bourdon augmented the cribbage table design with a clear foil for the “2018,
“JSM,” and the holes on the table. The cribbage table was embossed, debossed and diecut on a Bobst. The felt portion of the table received a soft touch aqueous coating. The cribbage tray holds a boxed deck of cards printed on an HP Indigo 7600 digital press and features digital process inks and gloss UV coating.

The 12-page calendar uses wire-O binding and a hanger and features one month per page. Each month showcases JSM’s various printing and finishing capabilities. For instance, January’s background is a black and red checkerboard printed on 100# Royal Sundance Smooth Cover Eclipse Black. Bourdon created the game board to size and shrunk the calendar grid to make it playable. “We were looking for an authentic checkerboard look, and we thought it would be a perfect opportunity to showcase black stock with metallics and white ink,” Tardiff said.

The January page was printed on a Komori 8-color press and then was foil stamped on a Bobst. A silver foil was used to create “January 2018” across the top of the checkerboard. Red metallic foil also was used for the red squares on the checkerboard and to denote the holidays – New Year’s Day and Martin Luther King Jr. Day – on the calendar grid. To top it off, JSM created embossed and diecut checkers using a Bobst diecutter on 122# Pike C2S Cover Black and 122# C2S Red. Tardiff described January as “a tough month to proof and visualize, but we are so happy with the way it turned out.”

The design team thought a winning combination of “eights” would not only highlight the eighth month, but also be a nod to its three 8-color printing presses. “Add some metallic stock and white ink, and I would say we hit the jackpot,” Tardiff exclaimed. Using 12pt Hampden C1S ½ mil silver metalized paper, Bourdon used a stock image of a slot machine and tweaked the marquee and background to create the August page. JSM used a sculpted emboss to make the machine and other elements on the page “pop.” The page also was spot UV coated to give dimensions to the rays in the background. Because the August page was printed over the metallic silver, two hits of opaque white ink were necessary to cover the metallic sheen in certain areas of the design. A final touch to the August page included a specialty UV coating that provided dimension to the rays around the embossed slot machine.

The December page of the calendar utilized a 130# Creator Star Gloss Cover stock and was first printed on a Komori LS840 using special Kaleidoscope inks. Red and black foil were used to highlight special dates on the calendar, and a large area of silver foil was stamped in register around the “King of Hearts” design using a Bobst foil stamping press. A spot dull varnish was applied to the images of the boxes and King of Hearts design on the page. Finally, the entire silver background was embossed with a special pattern that uniquely highlights the December page. “December was our chance to bring our theme full circle,” Tardiff concluded. “Just in case people put the box away we thought a cribbage theme might remind them of the board that was included in the box, and we wanted to try out a new foil stamping pattern provided by a vendor.” He continued, saying, “We loved how the pattern worked well with the shapes we already included.”

The industry and customers alike have praised JSM’s self-promotion 2018 calendar. “I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard ‘I didn’t think you could top last year, but you did,'” Tardiff exclaimed. He said it was a fun piece to do, and he enjoys the various perspectives the design team brings to the table. “I think we end up with a successful theme each year because our design team is careful to consider all the places the calendar may hang,” he said. “We are able to decide on a universal theme that can connect with the broadest audience while also speaking to our capabilities.” He said that while this may be their strength, it can be the biggest obstacle they encounter during the project. “We try to highlight as many special techniques while staying on theme – that is the challenge every year!””

The acclaimed piece has won industry awards, and Tardiff credits the company’s success to the “amazing people here doing great work every day.” In addition to winning the FSEA award for “Best of Show,” an award given to just one of the 38 FSEA Gold Leaf Award Gold winners, JSM’s self-promotion 2018 calendar also won the Gold for “Best Use of Foil and Embossing – Self Promotion.” Additionally, the calendar recently won a pinnacle award at the Printing Industries of New England Printing Awards of Excellence Competition. “These awards are a true testament to not just the design team’s hard work, but to all of our employees’ efforts.”