As part of my continued efforts to build a comprehensive "FAQs and other helpful info" page I came across another blog post I thought would be helpful — and that is to explain what it is what we do!
I like it, but what is it?
Letterpress printing is a technique of relief printing using a printing press, a process by which many copies are produced by repeated direct impression of an inked, raised surface onto sheets of paper.
Ink + paper + raised type/image = letterpress
Traditionally metal and wood type was (and is) still used. But magnesium, copper and brass can also be used and many people use wood and linoleum carvings to print as well. It’s versatile and limiting all at the same time. Modern adaptations include the widespread use of photopolymer printing, which allows digitally-created vector designs to be outputted as a hard plastic "plate" with the design raised. And as we push forward different materials and techniques are being introduced and experimented with. 3-d printing, laser and injection molding are some examples.
Letterpress printing has existed for a hundreds of years and was the main method in which the majority of printing was done. By the 1950s, xerography and offset printing began to force letterpress into almost absolution and by the end of the 20th century, digital printing and related technologies had become the industry standard for many uses.
Nevertheless, letterpress is making a comeback of sorts and there are lots of us printers now keeping the spirit alive.
As new letterpress printers in a modern age we have a responsibility to carry on the legacy, preserve the craft, but invent new ways of doing old things. The design climate has changed and letterpress printing is artisanal and boutique since the skills are learned the hard way and it’s not common knowledge in that no one is taught how to run presses unless you really seek it out.
Letterpress printing has gone from a household practice in which the process was the most practical way of printing almost anything to a niche market for folks seeking a hand-made, craft product that carries a tangible beauty unmatched by any printing process.
Dogs & Stars Letterpress and the letterpress community thanks you for your interest and support!
Some info from whatis.techtarget.com.