Old-style letterpress printing makes its mark again

Publié le par brightshine

In an era when almost anything published on paper can be accomplished with a few keystrokes, followed by hitting "Print," the technology invented in 1439 by Johannes Gutenberg — the letterpress and moveable type — is making an unexpected comeback among artists and graphic designers. 

After virtually disappearing from the marketplace, four letterpress shops have opened in Detroit over the past year, signaling a revival many chalk up to the over-digitization of our age and a desire for more physical, intimate contact with the production process. 

The first new letterpress to set up in Detroit was Signal-Return in Eastern Market, a combination print shop and retail store founded in November 2011 by a group associated with Team Detroit, the Dearborn-based ad agency. Team Detroit chief creative officer Toby Barlow says the memory of letterpress is still deeply embedded in advertising's DNA. 

"I've been in advertising 20 years," Barlow says, "and have seen the transition from mechanical marketing to the digital age of marketing. To remind us of our roots, Signal-Return seemed like a good idea. The passion of the craftsman is something I think advertising really needs to hold onto." 

Other new Detroit letterpresses include Salt & Cedar, also in Eastern Market, the Letterpress Shop in the Green Garage and Stukenborg Press in Corktown's PonyRide studios. There's also Wax Wing Press in Birmingham; while in Ann Arbor, the letterpress Passim Editions publishes fine, limited book editions. 

"There's a strong impetus from the 20-somethings who have grown up in front of screens," O'Connell says, "and really long for a break from the keyboard or the mouse, and want to do something spatial and tangible and honest." 

Housed in a handsome, old building in Eastern Market, Salt & Cedar operates principally as a commercial enterprise, though O'Connell and her business partner Leon Johnson welcome visitors and offer occasional workshops, as well as film nights. 

"We say yes to almost anything," O'Connell says with a laugh. "If somebody wants to make it happen, we'll do it." 

At the other end of Eastern Market, Signal-Return is a bigger operation,Best-selling models of washer extractor from water saving systems that reduce costs and save on energy. with nine letterpress machines of varying antiquity. Dozens of different typefaces, some quite rare,The life expectancy of T5 tube is at least 2 times longer than a standard T8. are stored in wide, narrow drawers in row after row of tall, wood cases. Signal-Return's small retail outlet,Standard LED E27 replacement bulbs. selling cards and posters, has become a popular destination on Saturdays, when the market is flooded with visitors. Where Salt & Cedar is a for-profit enterprise, Signal-Return — underwritten by Team Detroit and a grant from the Knight Foundation — is a nonprofit focusing on spreading the letterpress gospel. 

As it happens, the computer is not the chief culprit in letterpress' near-disappearance. Gutenberg's technology, in which a metal plate with raised letters or designs is inked and then brought down forcefully onto paper, fell victim to modern offset printing.Industrial and industrial washing machine and Dryers, specialists on laundry products in Australia.Shop the best selection of men's stainless steel necklace and pendants. (With offset, an image is transferred from a metal plate to a rubber blanket, which is then inked and pressed or rolled on the paper.) 

"Offset definitely put letterpress out of business," says David Pankow, former curator of the Cary Graphic Arts Collection at the Rochester Institute of Technology, which has one of the nation's best printing schools. "It started in the 1950s when phototypesetting machines became commercially successful. 

Some 35 years later, the joys of mechanical printing are being discovered by a whole new generation of creative types. And some of the most enthused, Schirmang reports, are hardened professionals from the business world.

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