Are you familiar with letterpress? You should be. It’s about the oldest form of printing in existence, and at its core it’s simple enough that you can do it at home. You may have even done an extremely basic form of letterpress printing as a child, with individual letters or symbols on blocks of wood or metal that you dipped in ink or paint. Of course, that’s also a time-consuming and resource-intensive way of doing it compared to how a professional print company like Southern California Graphics can handle it.
Also known as movable type, letterpress is a method in use for at least a thousand years that was first invented in China. Raised type is inked and then pressed directly to paper. The simplistic method means that significant pressure is required in order to transfer the design, and that when it is transferred, the transfer is often inconsistent. In times when letterpress was preferable to handwritten transcription, such as fifteenth century Europe, this was an issue taken on the chin. Johannes Gutenberg, who imported mechanical moving type to Europe, undertook a mass production print project, producing 180 copies of the Bible, which took almost three years to complete. The Bibles were durable enough and prized enough that 48 of the Bibles are still around today, which says something for the charm and value of letterpress. As technology advanced, so too did the method and speed of raised type printing. Ink rollers were invented and hingen platens which massively increased the rate of printing, as sheets of paper could be reset very quickly and the rollers could be re-inked automatically.
Modern letterpress techniques, you’ll be relieved to hear, do not take quite as long to produce, but retain the kind of aesthetic that marks them out as a classic choice. Computer design is used to engrave dies for each ink color, with the elements composed in place. The result is a printing method that produces slight variations in appearance each time while still adhering to the main design with high fidelity.
Uses of Letterpress
Letterpress is favored by those looking to evoke a sense of hand-crafted design. For brands that cultivate a rough and ready or vintage aesthetic, letterpress can be a real asset. Imagine billboards for a bourbon brand with a Wild West style. Or Blu-ray cases for a film or TV series set in the 19th century. It’s also favored by event planners as a look that works well for weddings and other occasions that seek to call upon the appearance of the past. Whichever brand you decide to use it for, the boost to visibility and notability that the distinct letterpress style provides will be a significant boon to the campaign.
Perhaps you’d like to know more about how Southern California Graphic can use our broad range of specialized substrates, which includes pearlized UV coatings, embossing and debossing, die cutting, foil stamping, perforating, and laminating among others. If that’s the case, get in touch now! Say hello at https://www.socalgraph.com/contact. We look forward to hearing from you!