So we got a call from Forbes last month. We did an interview about the resurgence of letterpress and talked about how modern photopolymer plating makes letterpress available to a more contemporary design aesthetic. But a lot of people are stuck with a mental image of letterpress as it came into mainstream design popularity several years back – distressed wood type, over inked artwork and a makeshift quality to the design that comes from using whatever typefaces and elements that happen to be on hand. Don’t get me wrong, I love Hatch Show Print and have been through the Nashville shop several times. But letterpress has a range far beyond that limited aesthetic. Pushing the medium is what our shop focuses on intently. To us, the resurgence of letterpress is this: making letterpress a viable commercial production method for contemporary design.
A few of the details in the article are a little fuzzy as they published my comments and I think she got a bit of a rise out of me. (yes, I realize if you have the patience and an extra hour or two, you can set some type on a curve with metal type, but that is certainly not commercially viable for our shop) The point was that I personally take issue with anyone that would say printing with polymer isn’t real letterpress. Yeah, we use polymer. It’s a means to an end. Different tools make different marks. Maybe we should call our work “civil union printing” rather than “letterpress” so all the ludites can feel better about their craft. :) The bottom line is that photopolymer represents a new range of possibilities for designers and for letterpress. We embrace that wholeheartedly, but still have a deep appreciation for all of those willing to toil over a case of lead type.
Check out the Forbes article here.
Here are some pics of a photopolymer job being set up to print.