Type High: the Impression of Letterpress
By Xena Root
A short publication showcasing the charm and beauty of letterpress printing, I hope to inspire the wonder I found, as well as get people to support local printers.
Type High: the Impression of Letterpress
by Xena Root
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Inside Type High – content

Introduction:

Letterpress printing, to me, is a tactile way to create new and creative designs. My introduction to letterpress was through one of my graphic design classes. We were to take a field trip to a letterpress print shop to learn more about kerning, leading, and spacing, which was all done by hand originally. While there, I got so caught up in exploring the type I forgot to eat. Wanting to learn more about letterpress printing, I started interning with that letterpress shop. 

Problem Analysis:

I began this project intending to inform people about letterpress printing due to modern technology. However, as I got farther into the project, I realized I wanted to showcase different ways to print and different products a person can get. By displaying these different elements, I hope to inspire others to utilize letterpress printing in their professional life or their personal life. 

Process:

Having learned so much from the couple running the shop, I was able to see and experience the difference between digital layouts and physical layouts. So when it came to picking my capstone topic, I only had two ideas in mind; education on how to respond to someone with a mental illness or a publication on letterpress printing. 

After deliberation, I chose to go with letterpress printing to pass on the charm and quality that I found. I wanted to focus on photography as well as printers. I have worked closely with printers and heard many stories. I know that they are a close-knit group. Besides, each printer has a unique story, style, and personality. I decided to meet more printers and learn about their story. But as the semester went on, I struggled to focus on a specific area of letterpress. I, at least, knew that I wanted to showcase my photography, the printers, and the charm of letterpress. 

My first draft was an experimental piece, but it helped me to keep the idea of pushing the boundaries of the sizes of text and utilize the space that comes with 11×17 paper. After a guest critique, I thoroughly thought about how I wanted to design this. I was encouraged and asked many times how my design would directly relate to letterpress, in essence, which brought me to find a letterpress style font. It was also during this that I reflected on all that I learned from teachers and peers. I made sure to stay away from sticking elements into corners, sticking to my grid, and utilizing the negative space. It was during this that I was inspired to use a type case as my publication grid. 

It was here when I decided to start fresh. It was around this time that I knew I wanted to visit as many printers in the area that I could. I was also working with the Red Door Press to get a bring a small hand press to the senior show. However, due to unforeseen circumstances (looking at you COVID-19), I was only able to meet with three printers and had to change my end goal. But while visiting, I made sure to take many pictures at each location. However, without a complete understanding of where I wanted the print to go, I ended up not being able to get all the pictures I needed in the end. But through cooperation, generosity, and proper citation, I was able to use images from the shop sites and Instagram to fill in any missing pictures I might need.

While designing, I had a few conversations with Tammy from the Red Door Press, my internship, that truly inspired me on how to proceed when talking to each printer. It was then that I created the topics of what their story is, what they focus on, and what their work is. But it was during my visit to the Pretty Good Co that I created the topic of something uniquely them. 

All in all, I am proud and excited about what I have created. I haven’t always liked my first or second designs, but I have found a style through this project that I enjoy. Plus, I genuinely am proud of my final product and feel I utilized all that I have learned over these past few years. It has been a rough few years, but I learned so much and ended the year strong. To all my class of 2020 graduates, both high school and college, we will make it through this and be stronger for it. 

Xena Root was repsonsible for posting the content on this page. Any inqueries should be directed to the contact information listed above.