Imperfect: Letterpress x 3 is a trio exhibition featuring our recent experiments in letterpress printing and seeks to extend our design processes beyond the computer screen. Instead of strictly imposing order, we utilize the letterpress medium in ways that encourage interpretation, spontaneity and improvisation. The seductive embossing of the page and textural qualities of the prints add unique qualities to the end results. The physical letterforms become an equal partner in the process as their age and history are revealed. This traditional form of printing enables us to tell new stories, in a modern context. Despite working with a common process, each one of us has a dedication to express our individual voice.
Joey Hannaford’s prints, created while in residence at the Hamilton Wood Type Museum during the summer of 2010 and 2012, are an exploration of color and abstract form. The large wood type letters are chosen specifically because of their relative geometric qualities. They are then printed repeatedly from different directions in the press with vibrant transparent inks creating an overlay- ing of new geometric shapes that reveal themselves with each successive layering. The end result is complex, energetic, and often unrecognizable as a letterform. The composition is not intended to be legible, but instead becomes ethereal and spare, inviting contemplation.
Mervi Pakaste’s prints are an exploration into the mass media gossip culture in the U.S. As message container and purveyor, letterpress allows her to place tabloid gossip headlines into an ‘out-dated,’ hand-crafted, labor-intensive medium, with the glory of its authentic imperfections and textural character—much of which is absent in contemporary printing processes. Her work recalls up a time when printing was expensive and equipment scarce, and when the costs of production process meant that messages and news tended to be of broad importance. Through this craft-oriented print medium she hopes to bring, along with a little playfulness and humor, a consideration of how mass media gossip culture continues to thrive and evolve, while many important worldly issues seem to be downplayed by the U.S. media.
Jeff Pulaski’s prints spring from a desire to document and experiment with wood and metal type, linoleum cuts and advertising blocks. He enjoys the tactile nature of letterpress, each element selected and placed in the press bed by hand. Each color is printed individually so the image is created slowly, building the color as the piece is created. Jeff enjoys dealing with the limitations of the fonts, characters and sizes on hand and the scars that exist on heavily used characters. In addition to letterpress, he is interested in other hand processes such as silkscreen and marbling paper and seeks ways to combine these with his letterpress work.
By combining our work into a group exhibition we wish to demonstrate the versatility that the letterpress medium possesses and its relevance to the graphic design profession today. We believe that designers in 2011 should consider exposing themselves to the experiences of traditional craft- based graphic design mediums as a means to enhance understanding , skill, and authenticity in all levels of the profession. The process of letterpress printing involves a physical production process that inherently invites mistakes. These unplannable mistakes bear witness to essential human qualities that perfect multiples will never achieve. As designers this brings us not only closer to our work, but provides us a link to the roots of our profession. Letterpress is by no means “dead” and it is our intention to create letterpress work that brings new meaning to a modern audience.