Letterpress printing. If you don’t know what letterpress printing is, I am pleased to announce that I am about to BLOW YA MIIIND.
Well, I might be exaggerating a bit because I love type and I think everyone should.
This might be a good time to say: Hi! My name is Alex and I’m one of those, what do you call ’em, graphic designers? Yeah, one those people that have a LOT of feelings about kerning and IKEA switching their typeface from Futura to Verdana and Adam Lambert’s album cover, for example. I’m responsible for the design of a little website called Autostraddle.com… just sayin!
(Right: example of a hand-set letterpress poster print. Buy it from YeeHaw Industries here.)
Anyway! Letterpress printing is the earliest form of printing text on paper. It’s a form of relief printing of text and image using a press in which a reversed, raised surface is inked and then pressed into a sheet of paper. The result is a design you can see and feel and it’s super nice and special. The machine and process was revolutionary to say the least and had remained in wide use for almost 500 years until the computer ruined everything.
(Example of a letterpress poster. Buy it from YeeHaw Industries here.)
A small amount of high-quality letterpress printing still remains, mostly for things like wedding invitations, stationery/identity materials, and… HOLIDAY CARDS!
I say: why buy generic Hallmark cards when you can get pretty holiday cards right off the smokin’ hot letterpress! I’ve been buying cards from various designers & printers on Etsy for the past two years and never looked back.
Here are a few designers and print shops I’ve taken a liking to, who feature beautiful letterpress work I found on Etsy:
Ink and Iron
Ink & Iron (who work under the name Pilot Press,) produce simplistic type designs for their holiday cards:
Vandalia Street Press
Vandalia Street Press has a collection of cute illustrative cards:
This custom letterpress printmaking and design shop has an abundance of typographic vintage-y hand-made prints and over-sized postcards, either for the holidays or for naught!
Be sure to browse all 20 pages of their stuff… every piece is something special, for real.
The work of Letterpress Delicacies really shows the beauty of using a vintage letterpress to print a modern design. It’s so crisp!
Afavorite uses a combination good typography and clever puns. There’s lots more to see at their official site: afavoritedesign.com
Lucky Bee Press
There are cute letterpress illustrations on the holiday cards of Lucky Bee Press…
As well as other letterpress-ed items like coasters!
The world needs more appreciation of printmaking, thanks for posting this! Hallmark cards are so overpriced and impersonal that I usually avoid buying cards unless it’s for relatives or somewhere that they’re expected. I think I need to make a switch…
I’m a big fan of “Happy HOLLA Days” and the Bingo one.
Alex, I feel like we could have some good conversations about letting & kerning.
These are so pretty! Biscuits and gravy card? WANT.
I spy with my little eye a Dada poster.
This made my day.
P.S. The cards are nice, too.
Oh I know… that poster made me so happy I had to include it somehow. That studio makes it using antique wood type I believe. Whatever you do, don’t buy them all out! I haven’t purchased mine yet!
Also, thank YOU.
i love these so much!
I want to eat the little porcupines on the Lucky Bee Press cards! Also HOLLA days makes me happy. Excellent post and fantastic recommendations!
yeah, i was instantly drawn to wanting to consume those in some way also. orally, i guess.
This makes me feel a little less strange about the amount of time I spend obsessing over how my school assignments look. I love the way words look.
These are beautiful, thank you.
Hi Alex! I love your Technostraddling! This page is full of some amazing eyecandy. My holidays are always etsy + the Bust Craftacular, so I will def check these stores out! Also, what were your IKEA drama thoughts? I was pro-futura, but also my feelings weren’t too strong.
Prob because I hate IKEA after all of my furniture has crumbled around me, leaving me in literal ruins.
also http://bust.com/craftacular/BUST-Holiday-Craftacular-2009-NY.html it is sunday! there is much typography for everyone! lots of etsy sellers have booths iloveitsomuch
My feelings on the IKEA thing are: Verdana is a not a print typeface… or a typeface at all at that
what does it mean to be optimized for print vs. web, o fearless design leader? i never really understand what the actual diff is
these are awesome! I wish i was super rich and could own a letterpress studio and just learn to print all day.
Also just to say if anyone is ever in Colorado Springs, go to the Colorado College Press, its brilliant. They do posters for the plays and musicals etc at CC and theres lots of student work too and its all ace.
I love letterpress!
I love typography!
I love this post!
I love lamp!
I have an insane love for letterpress too! I get to design and make my own cards every year in my mother’s print shop. She’s the only artist there, and the equipment they use is old school like WHOA. I will probably buy stuff from these guys you linked to anyway though, because they are awesome.
I wish I had one of those typewriter things, that would be super cool. I’d write people notes every day.
Wow these are ace, I particularly love the YeeHaw cards.
Perfectly timed too – I always forget to purchase Christmas cards, so on Christmas Eve I usually have to make the 11.50pm dash of shame to K Mart to buy those ’10 for $5′ bulk packs that give more papercuts than they’re worth. So thank you, you’ve just helped me avoid another year of judgemental looks from gift recipients.
As another graphic designer who ALSO is in love with Letterpress, I’m so glad that Etsy tweeted this article! This is a great collection you’ve put together, Alex! Now I know where I’m buying MY holiday cards.
PS – I am one of those “has opinions on kerning and Ikea’s font change” people too. =)
oh awesome! I had no idea Etsy tweeted it as well! Glad you liked it, thanks for saying so :)
Yeah I can’t believe the kind of money hallmark makes off their cards. Handmade cards are so much better.