Pulling the Press

Lab 6

Pulling the Press

I am excited to know that letterpress printing is seeing a resurgence. While not effective for general use as modern printing, letterpress printing has its own unique charm worthy of use.

Work done on a letter press printer connects the creator more so to their work. They have an intimate connection to the text, placing each letter by hand, seeing a block of metal put together, and placing it into the press. The resulting ink on paper feels like a product of your labor. Seeing my quote on paper was both satisfying and rewarding. Despite the words being entirely not my own, I felt like I made the text I was seeing, not just typed it.

This, of course, is likely more to blame for maintaining the revival of letterpress printing. Sure, this is an important characteristic of the procedure, that encourages those using it to continue doing so as the rush of satisfaction hits them upon completion of a project, but most wouldn’t have had such an experience before they got into letterpress printing. Something must have motivated the youth to attempt these endeavors, and I think nostalgia is to blame in that regard. It is “hip” to use more vintage technologies just as it is to use vinyl records and drink craft bear.

I consider this to be beneficial. It is not only interesting but also important to understand the technologies that lead us to today. Letterpress printing determined the lingo we use in typing, the concept of pressing ink into paper in such a manner, mass producing text / books for common use, and even encouraged literacy. This lead to a cultural, religious, and intellectual revolution that it is necessary to be understood to understand our history.

The enthusiasm we see today varies significantly from that in history. Back then, printing was purely an industry, and people almost never printed for their own individual needs. Quotes and basic texts weren’t printed because they didn’t need to be. The industry was instead focused on mass production and profit, the exact opposite of the passion project nature of modern day.