Rediscovering Old Printing Techniques

Within the past two decades traditional printing presses and techniques have enjoyed a resurrection within the digital print community as designers and illustrators bring back to life a dying craft. This resurgence initially started with independent boutique designers, printing, and design collectives that created unique hand-printed material for special occasions ranging from birth announcements to weddings to collectible art work. Impressive: Printmaking, Letterpress, and Graphic Design features a wide selection of artists, their exquisite handiwork that include historical graphic design elements combined with the quirky aesthetics of modernism.

Editors R. Klanten and H. Hellige have put together a rich and extraordinary collection of colorful invitations for every kind of event, business cards, eye-popping posters, elegant and funky stationery, and other hand-printed material from brochures to tags for artisanal teas, in addition to providing personal insights from the designers, typesetters, and printers who are using old-fashioned techniques to create cutting edge work that's a feast for the eyes.

Readers who have a difficult time distinguishing the finer points of typeface, inks, screen-prints and binding techniques will marvel at the amazing examples illustrated throughout the book. Impressive opens the lay persons' eyes to "the sheer joy of experimentation and old-fashioned tinkering, of 'blood, sweat and smears,' " write the editors, and note that more and more illustrators and graphic designers are on a mission to find antiquated presses in which these artists have "the huge satisfaction in following through from beginning to end, from first flight of fancy to the finished card, print, or book, and quite literally—leaving your mark on a piece of paper, a tangible imprint on the imprint." And while many of the artists in Impressive have experienced the joys and wonders of the printing press, others have ventured to experiment with hand-cut linotype, woodblock, limited screen-prints or embossing techniques.

For those who have a specific interest, such as typeface design or screen prints, the editors have included enlightening one page profiles of different presses with a general introduction and a question and answer section followed by illustrations of their work and others. Artist collective and presses interviewed include: Faile, Nobrow, House Industries, Cloudy Collection, Studio on Fire, and Bespoke Press.

Overall, Impressive is a breathtaking addition to the numerous books on design, but an even more welcome one that shows how traditional techniques along with contemporary trends work beautifully together.

Impressive: Printmaking, Letterpress and Graphic Design 
Edited by R. Klanten, H. Hellige
240 pages, full color, hardcover



Please signup or login to comment