Traditionally skull illustrations are a not-so-subtle reminder that you better have your life insurance paid up. But print house Aldine created these gorgeous examples to remind visitors to the 2015 ADC Paper Expo of something else – the choice isn’t always digital OR letterpress printing; sometimes you can breathe new life into your design by opting for both.
Prior to the show, the Aldine folks printed each piece digitally on Mohawk Strathmore Pure Cotton sheets using an HP Indigo press. Those prints were then brought to the expo where attendees were encouraged to run them through a letterpress printer, giving them added texture and dimension.
“We could have printed the whole thing digitally and the image would have printed beautifully,” admits Aldine Digital Production Manager Chris Anderson. “But adding letterpress brought this piece to life and gives it a certain ‘wow’ factor that couldn’t be reached by using one printing method.”
The print house wanted to demonstrate the added impact that can be achieved when you combine different printing techniques, and boy did they succeed. The strange visual beauty of these pieces is nearly matched by the added texture of the letterpress printing, leaving you with the impression that what you’re holding in your hands isn’t so much a print as a vividly made up skull that’s late for carnival in Rio.
Much of the credit here has to go to the Strathmore Pure Cotton paper used – specially made for letterpress – that tempers the digital printing’s flashy colors with that “quality” feel you only get with cotton.
As for the use of skulls to promote printing, it might be a “thing” these days; I recall Scodix calling attention to its variable-data foil capabilities at Graph Expo this year using a similar design. Perhaps the future of printing always seems brighter coming from something boasting a perpetual grin 🙂