The amateur I refer to is me. I’m an amateur observer of letterpress print. Last night I and my housemate, a talented illustrator and printer herself, headed over to the Curiosity Shoppe to check out an art opening. It featured posters and print by artists from all over the country. The shoppe is an art and design focused retailer of beautiful things. They called the exhibit the Sunshine Letterpress Show.
The first thing I noticed about the prints was that they were pleasant to look at. The thick color sucks you in. Lines are definite, as is the use of empty space.
Type is so familiar. It conjures memories of Sesame Street, or reading your first book with mom, before you knew what any of it meant. Augmented, expanded, and hyper-colored type becomes a new language. The letter A is its own character, like a Chinese pictograph. A phrase, printed in this way, transmits much more emotion than the words alone.
Because the printing press affects the paper, creating creases and indents, it often looks three-dimensional. A glass of wine altered my perception just enough to perceive the subtlety, sans 3-D glasses.
Outside the shop, a great white van with an open door invited us in. The Type-Truck is part of a project called Movable Type, started by Kyle Durrie, a letterpress printer from Portland, Oregon and the proprietor of Power and Light Press.
Inside the van, a clean cut workshop sported wood drawers full of every possible kind of type block. There were printing presses of old. “They stopped making this kind in the 60’s”, Durrie said. And another one she demoed was made in the 1800’s.
The nostalgia was tangible as volunteers took their time to apply paint and roll the old press by hand. The result was satisfying- a thick yellow sun along with the words “Let It In”. Despite the usual SF fog, the image reminded me that it was indeed summer.
Images courtesy of the Curiosity Shoppe