Photo: Radford Creative

What is Letterpress?

Analog rules

In a world gone digital, we’re the analog holdouts: the advocates for getting one’s point across with type, ink, and paper. We believe print has been and continues to be a powerful way to change minds and tell stories. 

Printing is slow

Letterpress printing is a form of relief printing; the raised surface of letters or images is inked and then pressed into paper. Letterpress artists create work ranging from protest posters to fine books. Words may be typeset by hand, letter by letter, and then printed on antique cast iron presses that are over 100 years old. 

Authentic opportunities for mindfulness are hard to come by in this day and age. The classical adage, “festina lente,” means “make haste, slowly.” In other words, good work takes time. It’s often represented by the symbol of the dolphin and anchor, and appears in many a printer’s mark or logo. This is why PiP’s logo features an anchor—we believe craftsmanship is the perfect complement to a fast-paced, high-tech world—and it’s the cornerstone of our programs and classes.

Printing is real

A letterpress printed piece cuts through the digital noise. It’s tangible, tactile, and carries more meaning. There are so many variations of letterpress printing to appreciate: from the delicate kiss impression of antique metal type and the patina of wood type to the precision of post-digital letterpress printing using photopolymer, lasers, or CNC. Letterpress printed books, posters, and poetry broadsides stand out from the crowd.

Printing is powerful  

You’ve heard the saying, “the freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one.” When access to the printing press is shared, it amplifies voices and becomes a powerful tool for democracy. It’s notable that some of the same typefaces and equipment in use during the abolition of slavery, women’s suffrage movement, and desegregation eras are still being put to work by today’s letterpress printers to defend our civil rights and our democracy.

Try it once, and you may find yourself filling your garage with tons of lead and cast iron. Believe it or not—happens all the time. 

Classes

Our Long-Distance Letterpress offerings are nearly as satisfying as the real thing, delivering expert instruction—no matter where in the world you live.