Frequently Asked Retail Packaging Questions

For a glossary of printing terms, please see our Glossary page.

A. Stock and Custom Packaging
B. Environmental and Recycled Packaging
C. Printing
D. Delivery
E. Graphic Design
F. About Modern Arts

A. Stock and Custom Packaging

What is the difference between Stock Packaging and Custom Packaging?
Stock Packaging is a box or bag that is already manufactured and can be imprinted at purchase. The advantages are quicker delivery and small minimums, typically 1000 units.

Custom production, which normally takes 8 to 10 weeks has higher minimums, usually 3,000 or more units and offers improved printing, including overall coverage, four color processes and unique shapes and sizes.

What is Custom Printed Stock Packaging?
Is packaging that is already manufactured and in stock and offers the advantage of small quantities and quicker return time, typically 1000 of a size. This varies depending on the item. Browsing the stock packaging shopping cart at, these in stock items come in a wide variety of styles, colors, and sizes, but are unprinted. Some clients prefer to select packaging from the shopping cart, and simply upload their logo or graphic to be applied on the stock packaging. Logos can be added in colored foils and a limited variety of ink colors.

What Shopping Bag Styles are Available?
Paper Twisted Handle (Traditional) - Manufactured roll to roll, if custom with flexographic printing. Only available in standard sizes.

Euro Style or Sheet Fed - Available in any size or shape, can be printed offset with other processes such as heat stamping, embossing, unique handle styles.

Does film lamination add strength to shopping bags?
Yes, it has structural strength as well as weather proofing.

What is rub-off?
This can be caused by ink or fibers that “rub off” as a bag or bags rubs up against another surface. This can be reduced by adding varnish or lamination. Certain colors are more prone to rub off than others. The client should be aware of this and review other samples before the degree of any particular printing

What are beater tinted base papers?
During the paper making process, color pigment is added to the fiber in the “beater.” These results in a final paper that is 100% tinted throughout. The advantages are when paper is folded, it will not show white fibers coming through or cracking.

B. Environmental and Recycled Packaging

What is the difference between recycled post consumer and mill waste?
There are two types of recycled paper and different combinations of the two. Post-consumer paper or board is made from office waste or in the case of boxes, newspaper waste. and mill waste. Generally recycled paper is not as strong as virgin materials; however, new developments have produced 100% post consumer bag paper that is suitable for retail packaging. It is also possible to make mixtures of virgin and post consumer materials in order to enhance the strength factors for particular applications. Post-consumer packaging is made from recycled shopping bags and papers, while mill waste is new packaging created from left over materials at a paper mill.

Many clients develop signature colors in conjunction with embossing.

Are recycled papers more environmentally feasible than recycled plastic?
Paper remains the superior selection. Plastic does not recycle as well as paper. The primary reason it is much harder to collect the same forms of plastic materials. In addition it is difficult to maintain a pure white base color because of the contamination of the plastic collected. Unlike paper, there is no de-inking process. Generally, plastic loses more strength when recycled compared to paper.

What types of packaging materials are environmentally friendly?

C. Printing

What is the difference between flexographic and offset printing?

Although great strides have been made with flexographic printing, offset printing is still the preferred process for shopping bags. Flexo utilizes rubber plates which do not offer the same screen and fine line capabilities.

Flexo tends to be better for metallic and heavy ink coverage.

Can I receive a production proof?

Normally, oriental production automatically offers a production proof. However, with most domestic production, ink draw downs / digital proofs or blue lines are available for most domestic productions.

On major runs, we encourage clients to attend press runs for fine tuning color and other especially complicated productions.

.What causes an over-run and under-run?
Normally, on any packaging production, there is either an under-run or over-run. This is caused by make ready time of the printing press and during the manufacturing process. Each job has an estimated amount of materials, and if the production goes particularly well, the result is an over-run. If it goes less well, it creates an under-run. Customers are only billed for what is actually produced. Normally, the smaller quantity produces greater the swing.

What is a color match?

Normally, specifying a Pantone Matching System (PMS) color, is the best way to indicate color. However, we can also take other color swatches and make commercial matches.

Because printing color is a function of many different factors, including base paper, pigments, light, press operator, etc. exact color matches are frequently difficult to guarantee. Normally, we provide draw downs which approximately match the client's color submission. For larger runs where color is an important consideration it is recommended the client be on press to oversee the run.

D. Delivery

What are normal delivery times for packaging?

Delivery of plain and stock packaging takes three days ground delivery. Overnight is available upon request. Custom printed stock packaging can be delivered in two to three weeks. Domestic custom manufactured and printed packaging can be delivered 8 - 10 weeks. Imported custom manufactured and printed packaging takes 8 - 10 weeks plus 4 -5 weeks shipping. All of the above are estimates and depend on the time of the year. All of the above are upon receipt of signed proof from the customer.

E. Graphic Design

What is the Graphic Designer Honor Roll?
This is our list of leading graphic designers that our packaging plants can utilize on a direct basis.

What services are offered by Modern Arts to Graphic Designers?

Can anyone use the Graphic Designers Toolbox?
No. This is reserved for qualified graphic designers and requires a member login ID and password.

Can institutions and major corporations receive a membership to the Graphic Designers Toolbox?
Yes, but on a fee basis of $2500 a year.

What is the best way to send artwork?
An Adobe Illustrator file with any type font outlined. This should be discussed on a case by case basis.

F. About Modern Arts

What services are offered by Modern Arts?
Modern Arts' services include manufacture of retail packaging, graphic design consulting, production management, new product development, cost audits / financial value reviews, distribution, educational support to design students, and online sales of unprinted stock packaging and accessories.

Does Modern Arts only work within the Fashion Industry?
No. Although our reputation has been built with fashion and cosmetics retailers, we also work with any promotional activity including publishers, fabric companies, cruise lines, paper companies, to name a few.

Does Modern Arts only work through graphic designers?
No. Although graphic design has always been our keystone and we have supported the graphic design community, we often receive finished artwork and manufacture packaging accordingly.