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Clearstory Receives Certificate of Merit in International Print Competition

Serving Seniors:  Experience of a Lifetime Derek Slevin @ slevinphotography.com

Serving Seniors: Experience of a Lifetime
Derek Slevin @ essays for sale slevinphotography.com

San Diego, CA July 16, 2014 Clearstory of San Diego, CA has been awarded a 2014 Premier Print Award, for outstanding achievement in the production of Soft Cover Books.The Premier Print Awards is the graphic arts industry’s largest and most prestigious worldwide printing competition, hosted by Printing Industries of America, which recognizes those responsible for the creation and production of outstanding print communications. Clearstory won a Certificate of Merit for our entry “Serving Seniors: Experience of a Lifetime.”

Having examined thousands of entries from printing and graphic arts firms around the world, the judges bestowed upon Clearstory the award, which honors technical excellence in this category of the competition. Less than 33% of the total entries in this year’s competition won an award.

“It’s an honor to be recognized by the industry as a company that produces top quality, award winning materials,” said Debara Medina, Owner.  

Michael Makin, president and CEO of Printing Industries of America, notes, “Each year, the field of entries brings impressive work from some of the best printers in the world. Only a small number of companies receive any award. The craftsmanship and hard work of Clearstory enabled them to produce an award winning piece in the face of some very stiff competition.”

The Premier Print Awards is the printing industry’s oldest and largest worldwide graphic arts competition. In its 65th year, the competition recognizes those responsible for the creation and production of superior print communications. The event promotes excellence in print and rewards companies and individuals who produce the best in print media.

2014 PPA - BENNY


Headquartered in Sewickley, PA, Printing Industries of America is the world’s largest graphic arts trade association representing an industry with approximately1 million employees. It serves the interests of more than 8,000 member companies. Printing Industries of America, along with its affiliates, delivers products and services that enhance the growth, efficiency, and profitability of its members and the industry through advocacy, education, research, and technical information.

For more information about the Premier Print Awards, contact Michael Packard at 412-259-1704.

For more information about Clearstory, contact Sarah Gutz at 858-526-3600.

John Trice Photography (www.johntrice.com)

Portfolio Websites aren't Enough

So, you specialize in digital graphic design, or you’re an artist or architect who already has an online portfolio. While you might think your bases are covered because it seems nearly everything has gone paperless these days – it’s time to reconsider. A portfolio website can be scrapped by a potential client in the click of a mouse. Print portfolios can be pulled out again long after a client has set it aside, and they won’t occupy an annoying amount of space in the client’s email box or hard drive. An online portfolio may even be routed to the spam folder and never seen at all. So, while a portfolio website can definitely be an asset to your marketing efforts, it’s not time to discount the benefits of a print edition.

John Trice Photography (www.johntrice.com)

John Trice Photography (www.johntrice.com)

You need both: Printed and Online Portfolios

When you’re creating a print portfolio to complement your website portfolio, construction is among the most important factors to consider. A book that is poorly constructed and falls apart in the client’s hands isn’t exactly likely to impress. The good news is that you don’t necessarily have to spend a fortune to create an impressive portfolio, so never settle for less than what you need to impress your clients.

Want to ensure you get the highest quality portfolio?  Remember these four tips while you are choosing a production shop.

Consider the benefits of one-stop shopping.

Work with a shop that does the printing, finishing, and binding in one place. The more vendors’ hands your portfolio passes through, the more likely someone is to drop the ball and blame the last vendor for the failure. Working with a single shop ensures that you can assign accountability and the shop will have more invested in producing something of quality since you are trusting the shop with your entire project. A one-stop shop is also less hassle for you all the way around.

John Trice Photography (www.johntrice.com)

John Trice Photography (www.johntrice.com)

Have lots of options.

Limiting your printing, finishing, and binding options will only hinder your creativity and could mean that you don’t have the highest quality materials at your disposal. You should have finishing capabilities at your disposal that include: creasing, digital die cutting, embossing, foil stamping, debossing, folding, laminating, perforating, slitting, spot UV coating, spot color, and white ink. When it comes to binding, a good range will include cased coil binding, hardcover case binding utilizing PUR adhesive, hardcover with Wire-o binding, fabric spine wrap binding, spiral binding, softcover PUR Perfect binding, and more.

Get hand-crafted work.

Don’t settle for a mass production job. A hand crafted piece created as a short run job will have more detail and care paid to it, and the construction will be something solid and reliable. You won’t be embarrassed to pass the portfolio over to an industry expert who may hire you.

Make sure there is open communications.

Be a part of the production process. Work with the production team and designers to ensure that your portfolio, including the construction, are coming along as expected and will be finished on time.

Clearstory handcrafts each of our print portfolios in our San Diego, CA facility. We encourage you to dream big and work with us to make a portfolio you can be proud of. You will have a wide range of finishing and binding options, so you can think outside the box and make something one of a kind.

What are you waiting for? Call us today!  858.526.3600 or 888.907.5611.

How to Create a Better Art Portfolio: Tips From a Pro

Whether the ink on your art degree is fairly wet or you’re a seasoned artist with plenty of sales under your belt, an art portfolio is among the best ways to market your skills and set you apart from other artists. You may only have a few seconds to catch the attention of a potential client, so create your art portfolio with originality in mind and take care when you select what will be showcased there. While you may already have an online portfolio, consider a print portfolio as well. This gives clients the chance to hold your work in their hands, and the presentation of your portfolio can be a bit more elaborate and memorable. Plus, a print portfolio is more difficult to scrap than the link to a digital collection.

Tim Tadder Photograph (www.timtadder.com)

Tim Tadder Photograph (www.timtadder.com)

Art Portfolios Need the Right Team

What should you look for in an art portfolio production team? While you’re letting your imagination run wild, consider these three important steps to choosing a print shop:

1.  Choose a shop that can pay your project ample attention. Since an art portfolio only has 10 to 20 well photographed pieces, it’s especially important to choose images that count.  To assure those images are printed to the highest quality, select a shop that will take the time to understand how you want your images to come to life.  Also,  it helps to work with a shop that is full service,not only offering printing, but also finishing and binding at the same location. Working with a single vendor makes the process more streamlined and your vision is less likely to get lost in translation.

Tim Tadder Photography (www.timtadder.com)

Tim Tadder Photography (www.timtadder.com)

2.  Work with a print shop that offers lots of finishing and binding capabilities.  Since you want your art portfolio to stand out, you may end up thinking outside the box. A vendor that only has a few finishing options available will have a harder time helping you realize your vision than one that can create a wide range of portfolio books. Look for a shop that has finishes like creasing, digital die cutting, embossing/debossing, foil stamping, folding, laminating, perforating, slitting, spot UV coating, spot color, and white ink. A good range of binding options will include: cased coil binding, fabric spine wrap binding, hardcover case binding utilizing PUR adhesive, hardcover with Wire-o binding, layflat photo books, soft cover PUR Perfect binding, spiral binding, and Wire-o binding. If you are using landscape photos, be sure to ask how large they can be – a size of up to 11″ x 15″ may be required.

3.  Create a collaborative relationship. The best print shop for an art portfolio is one that will help you choose your strongest pieces and also organize any supplemental materials that you want to include, such as publications about your work. Ideally, once you hand over your files to the printer the designers will want to keep you involved in the process as much as you want to be – never allow yourself to be shut out of the production of your portfolio.

At Clearstory, we are committed to making your ideal art portfolio come to life. You dream it. We make it. It’s really that simple. Each art portfolio is handcrafted at our San Diego, CA facility and our entire design and production staff is committed to creating an art portfolio that can help take your art career to the next level.

What are you waiting for? Call us today!  858.526.3600 or 888.907.5611.


Making Dreams Come True for Photo Book Clients – Clearstory and HP Indigo Digital Press Deliver


Making Dreams Come True for Photo Book Clients


  • To always sustain and deliver on the promise to clients: “You dream it. We make it”.


  • Installed an HP Indigo 5500 Digital Press capable of delivering fast, cost effective, richly personalized quality books for a wide marketplace.


  • Increased the business six-fold in less than three years.
  • Profitable delivery of consumer entry level Everyday Photo Books for around $20, while also producing for the professional market the highest quality portfolios with different binding techniques in premium finishes on specialty materials.
  • The HP Indigo 5500 Digital Press allows a total in-house operation, guarantees quality control and eliminates the need for outsourcing any part of the process.


Making dreams come true –that’s a big call. “You dream it. We make it” was the promise that San Diego based creative digital publisher, Clearstory, announced in December 2010. The promise was to empower Clearstory clients to celebrate life’s special moments with a sophisticated, simple and high-quality photo book.

Since 2005 the marketplace had seen a growing appetite for treasured keepsakes – the richly personalized books that honor family and individuals’ milestones in text and images. But before fulfilling their side of the promise, Clearstory had to overcome the hurdles that were limiting the delivery of such quality photo books.

Clearstory founder, Debara Medina, put her background in marketing, technology and photography to good use to research the marketplace. She recalls: “There was definitely a strong desire for visual storytelling. However, I discovered that there were issues preventing its real fulfillment. The public’s enthusiasm was undermined by overlong timeframes, disappointing paper quality, especially since the book might be handed down through generations, and the complex process of producing the books.”

Even with the evolution of software that simplified the production cycle and tackled some of the more arduous elements, Medina says the quality of the finished print product remained an issue.

HP Indigo Press capability and quality is a “revelation”

“I’d looked at the printing solutions offered by major vendors. Then I went to a graphic design and photography exhibition and saw the HP Indigo Digital Press solution in action for the first time. The quality was spectacular. Duplicating color was critical. For our clients it must be an exact match every time. The HP Indigo 5500 Digital Press was doing that before my eyes.”

She adds: “At that point, Clearstory’s business model was centered on a modest physical storefront operation using inkjet print technology. The HP Indigo 5500 Digital Press was clearly an exceptionally well made machine. More than that, it turned my planned business model on its head. I could live up to our promise, and I could do it via the web.”

Medina dug deeper and decided to visit The HP Experience Demonstration Center in Atlanta. “It was obvious that HP were putting substantial investment into Indigo digital technology. HPÕs development of digital paper capabilities and the beautiful substrates that were being harnessed to the Indigo Press solution were a revelation.”

Customers take ownership of their dream

With a fusion of creative energy and design skills along with the high-quality digital imaging technology from the HP Indigo 5500 Digital Press, Medina and her two employees built a state-of-the-art  production facility and created beautifully designed book templates with professionally designed industry leading software. Today, less than three years later, Clearstory offers customers the ability to produce their own elegant, personalized books.

Clearstory created the stepping stones that made the process economical without sacrificing quality. Its designers built custom-made, pre-designed templates specifically for the most popular types of book. Clearstory clients simply download the software, select a book design and drag and drop text and photos. The HP SmartStream Designer makes it even easier to create and print variable data, such as a person’s name, dropped in throughout a book.

Strong professional graphics art following

The company also has a strong following among professional photographers and graphic designers. Professional quality books in this sector include artist portfolios, cook books, poetry books and businesses showcasing their creative work. Clearstory’s designers, pre-press and production team work together to satisfy this demand and oversee the state-of-the-art HP digital printing facility in San Diego.

“For the professional market, which can be understandably finicky, there is simply no argument – print quality must be top notch. So the unique six-color liquid HP Indigo ElectroInk technology, which offers light/cyan and light/magenta, allows delivery of museum-quality inks to match the demands of the premium quality finish.

“The HP Indigo Press allows professionals to use an amazing range of substrates such as metal, plastic, chipboard or foil board. It enables us to be extremely competitive in our pricing. The shortest of runs are profitable for us, while still meeting our clients’ most demanding requirements.”

Established business with long-term vision

She rates highly her experience with HP: “From the outset the HP team understood exactly what I was trying to do. I quickly realized that HP was committed to the graphic arts and they intended to develop solutions to keep up with progress in the sector. This gave me great confidence, and the fact that the HP Indigo 5500 Digital Press just keeps humming along only reinforces that feeling.”

Medina underlines that level of comfort by reflecting on her positioning as a successful women-owned small business, now thriving and employing 20 staff: “The first conference I attended in this sector, I was one of only three women there. Many men kindly warned me that the photo and print business was crashing all around, and that maybe I will find my start up too much of a challenge,” she remembers with a smile.

“Whether the magic is fulfilling the extremely personal dreams of families and individuals or the vision of the most demanding graphic arts professional, the HP Indigo 5500 Digital Press has made that possible. It means everything to our operation because it supports every dream we promise and every promise we keep.”

Debara Medina, founder, Clearstory, Creative Digital Publishers


At a glance

Industry: Photo Specialty

Business name: Clearstory, Creative Digital Publishers

Headquarters: San Diego, California, USA

Website: www.myclearstory.com

4AA4-9836ENW, November 2013

Custom Journal Books for Words, Photos or Sketches

•	Journal Books: Personalized & Blank for Words, Photos or Sketches

Journal books are great things to viagra canada have when you want to write down your thoughts and ideas.

Journal books also make perfect gifts for friends, family and co-workers.

A small, 5″ x 7″ or 6″ x 8″, journal book as a travel diary easily fits into a daypack or purse. Larger, 8″ x 10″ or 10″ x 10″, journal books are for the organized person to project a professional image.

Custom Journal Books from Clearstory

Blank Books are
Perfect Customized Gifts

All journal books are blank books. Some have completely blank pages, no ruled lines or grids. Or, you can choose to have pages with ruled lines or grids.

Different bindings and covers let you customize journal books to match a wide variety of tastes and styles. Cloth and metallic cover materials let you be as formal or casual, bold or subtle, simple or complex as you want. You can often choose between perfect-bind and coil-bind depending how you like the journal book to open such as lay flat. Plus, you often have the ability to personalize the journal book with a name or a favorite phrase foil stamped on the front cover.

Handmade Journals

ClearStory products

At Clearstory, we value the art of story in words, photos or sketches. And our unique, one-of-a-kind products inspire you to tell your stories, savor your memories or gift in style with hand-crafted sophistication. Specifically, each Clearstory journal consists of the finest and highest quality within the bookbinding and printing industry, allowing people to write or capture drawings on exquisite paper.

Our journals are the epitome of sophistication appreciated by artists and writers of all levels as well as business professionals. And with our variety of journal options, you can create your own personalized journal.

Plus, all of our products are made in USA and handcrafted in San Diego, California.

For your next journal book, please check out http://myclearstory.com/journals/.