Friday, July 13, 2012


Last year I wrote about the first letterpress poster I ever made here. Since then I have printed many more posters, even as I spent last semester away from Colorado College and the press. As I go into this school year with new ideas and fresh perspectives, I would like to first reflect on my posters so far: the trials, tribulations, and successes of printing a poster the letterpress way.

This was my second poster and is still one of my favorite designs. Type and image mesh well and I got a few things right by chance, like type sizes and ink colors. It was a three-color poster with wood type, lead type, and two different linoleum blocks. Abe is a little more purple in person. It was also my most frustrating poster, by far. Somewhere in the translation from email to paper to design to type, I mistook the speaker's last name "Chiras" for "Chiaras". I didn't realize until the poster client called and told me the 70 posters I just delivered had a rather unacceptable typo. LETTERPRESS LESSON NUMBER ONE: PROOF-READ AGAINST THE ORIGINAL SPECIFICATIONS AND THEN PROOF-READ AGAIN. Nothing like a ten-hour all-nighter at the press to build character!

This was my next poster and the first of the school year. I printed it within the first four days of being back at school, probably my fastest poster ever. I was quite happy with the final design, the one thing I would change the shade of the blue ink: it isn't as legible from long distances as I would like, and it's too soft against the dark red. Printing this poster I learned that when working with metal type, printing is much easier if you set all the lines to the same width using extra spacing. The lock-up (how the type is placed in the press bed) can get very complicated if your lines are all different lengths.

This was my first and only poster using photopolymer plates. Although I enjoyed designing and printing with photopolymer, it is not a very cost-effective method. This is a three color poster (dark blue, black, and silver on a light gray-blue. To get the design I traced a map of the colorado river basin, fiddled with it in the Adobe Creative Suite, added text, and separated the image into three layers which would become my three colors (with the help of Aaron). I loved being able to see the image on the computer before making the plates and printing: it allowed me to make the text all the optimal size and have the optimal placement, something I still struggle with when setting lead type by hand. I also took advantage of the ability to create negative text. Although the design process took longer than it would with type and linoleum, doing the lock-up and printing was a breeze. Definitely one of my favorite results.

For this poster I used a mix of lead type, a linoleum reduction cut, and wood type placed upside-down. I had really wanted to try upside-down wood type, but it may have distracted from thinking about the poster design as a whole because this design is my weakest, in my opinion. There is too much white space and the ink colors are all wrong. If I did it again I would set the title type in a larger size, make both the blue ink colors darker, and use some of the orange/pink florescent ink for the text. (I unfortunately didn't know we had florescent ink at this point).

This poster was a sort of rebellion against the last and I had a lot of fun with it. Printers-in-training Mariel Dempster and Julia Belamarich helped during the designing, type-setting, and printing which was very appreciated: having people to bounce ideas off definitely makes the final product better. This was a two-color poster: bluish-black and silver on yellow paper. It incorporated lead and wood type, like my first two posters, and a reduction linoleum cut. If I did the State of the Rockies Speakers Series again (the client for my last five posters) I would have liked to use the line of wood type at the top in all of them, to make the series more cohesive. I think it's a strong, attention-grabbing template and quite versatile.

This is the poster I ended on, before I took a poster and press hiatus after the fall semester. Although it was a simple two-color linoleum and lead type poster, it was a good note to end on. The texture of the linoleum cut turned out well and these colors on the chip board gives an earthy, subtle feel that goes well with the design and the text.

This year I'll printing some of the Visiting Writers Series, using turn of the century book covers as inspiration for layouts. I couldn't be more excited to jump back into the world of keys and quoins (Use that in your next game of scrabble. You're welcome.)

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