Printing the ETP: Press Check Photos

Printing the ETP: Press Check Photos

Press This morning I went to my first-ever press check at Papergraphics, a printing company based in Merrimack, New Hampshire. The press check a final form of approval, pulling the first few sheets from a press run to make sure the color looks right and that there are no final issues. I was mostly curious about what the inside of an actual printing shop looked like. Our representative, Susan, was very patient in answering my questions and in allowing me to take pictures. Printing is awesome. There’s something magical about watching a blank sheet of paper make its way down the press to emerge, transformed, into something much more.


Proof and Press Check By the time I arrived, the press had already been set up and had printed a few hundred sheets of our 18,750 sheet run. The press guy pulled a sheet off and handed it to Susan, who then put it up under a light to compare. Everything looked fine to me, until I noticed it looked too good: the printed area of the page was perfectly centered. However, our design is off-centered on purpose, as to provide space for hole punching for those who need it. I had not caught this in yesterday’s proofing check, but the press guy said that it could be adjusted by just moving the cropping marks. He made a sheet that described the changes (see picture below), and then painted out the crop marks on the actual plates.


Change Sheet, Per Customer Request As this was going on, Susan showed me around the press, pointing out its various features. It was a 5-color press, meaning it could print up to five different inks at a time. We’re printing the Emergent Task Planner as 4-color process. This refers to the use of 4 standard primary inks: cyan, magenta, yellow, and black. The inks come in cans (below, left) which they sometimes mix themselves for custom colors. A gallon of ink is good for “thousands of impressions”. A plate is a piece of flexible metal (bottom, right) that fits over a roller in the press that has been treated to hold ink (bottom, middle). When the plate rolls over the paper, the ink of that color remains.

InksSample PlatesPlates, Edge View I liked the smell of the ink, which had a slightly sweet smell. There is something intoxicating about it. I was also enthralled by the printing process itself, because it requires an attentive eye to maintain quality throughout the run. I could imagine myself working as a printer if there weren’t any computers around. Going back even further, I probably would have been a clockmaker or a blacksmith.

PressPress ManufacturerPaper Loader Watching a pile of blank paper get transformed into an actual product was one of the most quietly exciting things I’ve experienced. There was something kind of calming about the experience. It may have been the press guys around the room that exuded that sense of quiet competence. Pretty awesome.

It’s just hitting me that this is a moment I have been waiting for my entire life. For the first time, I’ve created a physical manifestation of my own product. I’m glad I had a chance to see the printing process first hand; it just wouldn’t have been the same ordering over the Internet.

Press On a side note, 55 of the 86 pre-order confirmation emails I sent out have been been acknowledged, which means that I probably won’t lose money now. If you ordered an ETP pad but didn’t get a pre-order email last night, leave a comment here and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

The next step, once the pads are delivered to Manchester, is to actually create some packages and price out the postage.


  1. Sarah Deutsch 17 years ago

    I know exactly what you mean about it being “quietly exciting” – I did a lot of printmaking in middle school and high school, and even before that I helped my mom silkscreen posters for local fairs and such.  I liked the artistic side of it, but what I really loved was the magic of taking a blank sheet of paper, applying something to it (a metal plate covered in ink, a masked screen with ink squished through it), and seeing what came out the other side.  It gives you a sense of peace, knowing that you’ve planned everything out to make it look the way you want it to, and now all you can do is wait and see how it turns out.  I definitely could’ve been a printer in another life…

    Congratulations on realizing your dream – a lot of people never get that far, so make sure you savour the moment!  =)


  2. Fred Schechter H.B. 17 years ago

    Yayy!!! Dave’s printing!!!! Way to go dude!!

    Looking forward to getting em’ in the mail!!!

    Do we get them signed first edition! Hah!!

    Don’t worry, if your prices come down later we won’t revolt!


  3. Lynn O'Connor 17 years ago

    Another congratulations. Yesterday I was working with a client who initially came to see me for treatment of depression. When the treatment was successful she began working me as her “executive coach.” Right now she uses her time with me to to learn and implement GTD in her life. At some point in our session I pulled out the ETP and showed her how I use it every day, taking items from my “Next Action” list recorded in Vitalist (, and discussed how she might use the ETP in her agency (its a community mental health agency, she’s another mental health worker). I showed her how I file every day’s ETP at the end of the day and this file thus keeps a record of what I do, including the many things that come up (phone calls that happen etc) that I planned as well as what I had not planned, that is the beauty of the “emergent” part of the ETP. She took a blank ETP in her hands and poured over it, thinking about how she could use it at work in her agency. I remembered that soon she could order pre-made ETPs and told her about where you were at in this process. She is not a person who is always at her computer so the idea of having these ready made, made them even more attractive to her. The way you have shared this process with us has allowed me to feel an excited sense of accomplishment at the “emergent task planner process” and the emergent product. I think you are going to have customers introduced to the product by those of us who use it ourselves. Thank you for bringing us in on this process to the extent that you have. I wouldn’t have predicted the pleasure I feel this morning looking at the photographs you took at the printer yesterday. And I would never have imagined how your sharing this experience over the Internet would allow those of us who have followed you closely, despite so much distance, would end up feeling a sense of ownership and shared excitement. Thanks.

  4. Scott 17 years ago

    “Going back even further, I probably would have been a clockmaker or a blacksmith.”

    I took a blacksmithing course this summer and it is “quietly exciting” to transform a chunk of steel into a coat hook, bottle opener, BBQ fork or a hunderd other possible items. Although the closest I’ve come to printing presses is hearing how my father used to rewire them, I fully grasp what you mean. Computers and other electronic gadgets often take away that fascinating power of creating something with your head and hands. Sure, you can create an impressive program or spreadsheet or presentation, but being able to take raw physical materials and shape them for a totally different task is indescribable.

  5. Ian Muir 17 years ago

    If you ever want to play around, my new house comes complete with a late 1800’s letter press.

    It’s in complete working order, but we need to buy a few type sets and some leading. Kelley and I plan on having lots of fun with it. Maybe we could do a special edition victorian ETP with it.

  6. Jake 17 years ago


    This is really great man, way to go for it.  I missed the pre-order, so I’m hoping you’ll still have some pads that aren’t spoken for!

  7. penny 17 years ago

    AWESOME! I look forward receiving my ETP!

  8. Corrie 17 years ago

    Congratulations! What a huge milestone.

    Along the lines of clockmaker and blacksmith, I found that I really enjoyed working with stained glass. If you have a chance to find a local class that offers beginning lessons, go for it! :)

  9. Scott Wright 17 years ago

    My buddy Dave, what can I say. Even though I have been going through this process with you I just needed to post a public note saying how very excited I am for you. Everyone is going to be so excited to get this new PRINTED product!!! YEA!!!!! And although I’ve been involved in the world of printing and design for over 17 years, your enthusiasm and genuine excitement when you saw the press proof during our visit, was over the top. I forget how marvelous the process of creation can be, but you remind each and every time we get together. You are a gifted and extraordinary person, designer, architect and solutionist. Most of all, I’m very honored and proud to be in your circle of friends. Way to go Dave!

  10. Jake Dahn 17 years ago

    Hey just wanted to chime in and say I never got a confirmation email. I marked myself down for an order.

    I’m still up to ordering one :D

  11. Jason Langenauer 17 years ago

    Wow, they look great! Must be very inspiring to see it all happening – I’m placing my order as soon as you start shipping to Australia!

  12. Justin 17 years ago

    Congrats, Dave!  The sheets look great.