Letterpress has the extraordinary ability to make a lasting impression by enabling people to appreciate the artist’s craft in both a visual and tactile manner. This added dimension of depth allows the viewer to connect with each piece through their sense of touch, making each letterpress creation a truly interactive experience.
– Earl Gee, Gee + Chung Design
For the 13th edition of Neenah Paper’s “Beauty of Letterpress” series, Gee + Chung Design sought to transform letter printing’s iconic tools into typographic forms to engage viewers in discovering the “Beauty of Letterpress” and “The Art of Making an Impression.”
“These amazing tools and techniques, which have survived for centuries, connect art and craft, designer and printer, and paper and impression,” says Earl Gee, creative director, designer and illustrator for the project. “Our solution created an impressive showcase for the paper stock, Neenah Crane’s Lettra Ecru White 90 lb. Cover, whose quality, color and texture effectively conveys a timeless character while displaying the depth of impression that makes letterpress unique.”
The platen press wheel and mechanical gear, ink blob and woodblock letters, and ink brayer and ink streak illustrate the color depth created by overprinting. The composing stick, line gauge and dot screen showcase the ability of letterpress to transform fine detail into a delightfully tactile experience. “The level of quality and craft of TPD Design House, the letterpress printer and originator of the ‘Beauty of Letterpress’ series, was absolutely amazing; they did a remarkable job in bringing the design to life,” Gee says.
His black and red PMS color choices (Pantone 485 U and Pantone Black U) were inspired by a Russian Constructivist aesthetic. “The movement’s dedication to machines and technology, functionalism and modern mediums, and artists and engineers seemed like a natural fit for letterpress’ synthesis of art and machine,” he explains. The poster’s geometric structure, dynamic composition and modern abstraction also pay homage to Constructivist ideals.
Sales of the print support the Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum in Two Rivers, Wis., dedicated to the preservation, study and use of wood type in letterpress printing.
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