Burnt Toast Editorial

Writing that smokes

Category Archive:Printing

So old it’s new. How Letterpress is making a comeback.

Was it coincidence that I recently bought a birthday card designed by using Letterpress? I think not, for this method of printing is making a comeback according to The Economist.

This centuries old method of printing, whereby letters are pounded deep into the paper, is no passing fad for a new generation of artists, graphic designers and others accustomed to the world of digital print. They have “discovered” a printing process barely changed since its invention by Johannes Gutenberg in the mid-fifteenth century, and as a result are basking in the tactile and visual splendour that letterpress brings to their work. It’s a very far cry from the 1980s and 90s when photo-offset and computer printing deemed lead type redundant, and the only letterpress printing left standing were private presses whose handmade books were mostly aimed at bibliophiles.

LetterpressSo what accounts for this resurgence? Apparently, two factors. Firstly, digital fatigue and second and somewhat ironically, technology has made it easier to print letterpress than ever before. An apprentice need no longer spend years learning how to set metal type into rows as a computer design can be turned into a plastic printing plate. Thus, for both the hobbyist and the professional designer, letterpress, be it metal or plastic, is now the latest on-point tool. Those who are returning to letterpress are learning the fundamentals of typography; leading the charge are those trained in the visual arts, such as graphic designers, fine artists and illustrators.

I say, let’s have more of “what’s old is new”.

For an insight into the history and techniques of letterpress printing you can read Justin Knopp’s fantastic blog TypoReturn at http://blog.typoretum.co.uk/

He has his own letterpress printing business and is also involved in the conservation and restoration of old printing presses.

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News from the print room. Our print partner wins big in Cape Town.

We have used Southampton-based printers Hobbs since 2008 for all our book projects and other print requirements.

It’s always a good feeling to know that people you like and admire are making their mark so we’re jolly happy to announce that our print partner was recognised with two Awards at the International Print Network’s Conference held in Cape Town, South Africa.

The first Award of the two was given for Hobbs’ development of a fully automated Article Reprint solution built for the Institute of Physics Publishing in Bristol. The Award recognised the complexity and intelligence of the solution that allows an academic audience access to over 600,000 articles and the ability to purchase multiple copies of those of interest.

The Institute of Physics Publishing’s Head of Production, Liz Martin, says of Hobbs’ accolade:

“The Hobbs team took a very pragmatic and practical approach to dealing with this complexity and were always proactive in their communication. They were a pleasure to deal with throughout … they were dedicated, solution focused and detail orientated; highlighting many aspects of the project that we had not previously considered.”

“Hobbs successfully delivered on a tight timescale and I am looking forward to working with them on the future development of this system.”

The second was the Outstanding Recognition Award presented to Graham Bromley, Hobbs’ Deputy Managing Operations Director, saluting his contribution to the IPN through management of the IPN Technical conferences and work of the IPN Board. Graham is one of 13 people who make up the Board of the IPN. Members are drawn from partners in the UK, Netherlands, USA, France, Canada and Singapore – a truly international group.

Want to know more about the high calibre work of Hobbs the Printers Ltd? Click here.

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