Thursday, June 9, 2011
I have been conflicted about whether to blog or not, and why. My life work has been letterpress printing, an activity that is defined in shadow. Western relief printing, what we call letterpress, has been a character-based aesthetic for the 550 years of its history. It exists at its core as a medium of communication that may enhance, yet must not interfere with the reading experience. To be done successfully requires a deep acceptance and understanding of what this service aspect of typographical printing means. What this means practically just got played out in my shop just now. The designer came in and picked up 4 lots of business cards we printed letterpress for his clients. It was for a start-up here in Brooklyn, that had a low budget and a desire for letterpress. The designer loved the cards, and we chatted about what made them good - simplicity, thick paper, black ink, that subtle feeling of something special without being imposing, all aspects of the shadow quality of letterpress printing that fit right in to its 550 year aesthetic history. Yet there is something about reality, especially modern reality, that requires the private shadow aesthetic to become public. Fewer and fewer of us have the luxury of using Emily Dickinson or Johan Gutenberg as a model for creativity using their obscure lives as a direct reference. I'm going to define the problem as privacy vs. publicity. The activity of letterpress printing itself is intensely private and personal for the person whose words are being committed to paper. Whether a life work committed to a book, a wedding invitation, a certificate or business card, the experience of having one's work printed letterpress has been in my experience very important to each of my clients. It may have a more or less public application upon completion, but the process of production has always been well away from public view. It's a black art we practice, in more ways than one. Then there is all the activity that precedes, and follows after, the private moment of truth when ink gets pressed into paper. All this activity I'm going to define as more-or-less public: information gathering, scientific research, design, influences, history, all manner of choices, all kinds of purposes to which the printed pieces are put. If the printed impression can be characterized as an attempt at the rational, perhaps all of the activity that precedes and post-dates it can be called somewhat chaotic, non-rational, public by comparison. Something bloggable.
Sunday, August 3, 2008
3-1/2" x 2" business card printed letterpress, pms 151. Neenah Classic Crest 165-lb cover.
Designed by Mark Popham and printed at Kallemeyn Press, 2008.
What I really like about this card is the more you look at it the more you see. First, the orange color: orange--at the top of the color wheel--is perhaps the hardest color to handle well, especially in a one-color design. Here, it complements the color of the stock, and as a warmer color recedes from the plane of the paper, and in doing so adds to the feeling of depth of the impression.
And, on a lighter note, what's not to like about the silhouette illustration and the latinate "factotum" definition? But these to me are all a set-up for what's we don't see in this card--we don't see any figures! They have to be written in by hand! Anything related to numbers or technology requires the balance of the human hand. Really a masterful, humanizing touch to the experience of handing over a business card!
Thursday, July 31, 2008
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
Letterpress relief printing at Kallemeyn Press aims to integrate western, mechanical typographical printing techniques and traditions with a global range of original, graphic communication and expression that has a linear structure. All Your Base Are Belong To Us!
Monday, July 28, 2008
Sunday, July 27, 2008
Stephanie Tamez of New York Adorned on Thursday, July 24 at White Box Gallery in New York City. One of twelve tattoists from Lori Levin's shop doing full-size "body suit" illustrations. The concept of taking tattoo art, and performing it large and live was interesting to watch unfold; the mature talent was impressive. Tattoo and letterpress share a linear structure that is skeletal by nature, the quality of the line is integral to the quality of the finished product.
Check out Body Type by Ina Saltz (isbn 0-8109-7050-3) for more work by Stephanie Tamez; and the relationship of typography (letterpress) and tattoo.
Sunday, July 20, 2008
3-1/2" x 2" business card printed letterpress, black ink front and back on Gmund Perla 111-lb cover. Original vector line drawing by Thomas Kurilla. Typography in Peignot (designed by A.M. Cassandre, 1939) by Earl Kallemeyn.
There's been a change in the name of the cover stock; it was originally called Havanna because the line was created with a Cuban reference. It makes me smile a bit to wonder what went down, because now it's called "Savannah".
Thankfully, the quality stayed the same. It is a great sheet of paper!
The artist, Thomas Kurilla, and I have been working together to make his artwork and designs for letterpress. This original illustration of the Chrysler Building is the third in a series of Icons of New York. Part of the goal of our collaboration was to create a high quality format for personal business cards that did not require re-inventing the wheel for each client. We've created a clean look, with original artwork, that we feel will be appropriate for professionals, especially those with several streams of income.
At a time when the business card is being degraded to the point of being worthless--"free business cards"--we are going in the opposite direction, creating a new kind of business card that has a cool way of enhancing your identity on paper.