Wow, thank you to everyone who has made this such a blessed, affirming time for us in our new business venture—all of your financial pledges to our letterpress restoration have been an encouragement that we really can't put into words. We are SO psyched to be getting our hands dirty fixing up the machine come mid-April. You are all are fantastic for being a part of this with us, and we promise to take lots of photos and find some fun stories (hopefully not too many that involve cast iron and flesh) to tell along the way.
This last week, we'll be offering a 25%-off future purchases coupon to any new pledges we receive, so if anyone would like to continue sharing links to this project, we'd really appreciate it.
Lastly, I (Tiffany) forgot to mention earlier that I was interviewed about SP&Co on TechZwn by Joshua Philip. He asked some awesome questions, and I thought I'd include both a link and the original transcript here for you all to enjoy.
You can find my interview here.
And here is the original transcript:
JP: You mention you’ve often daydreamed about owning a
letterpress. What is it about the old letterpresses you’re drawn
to over the printers of today?
TS: Most digital printing today (outside of the design process) is very
hands-off. You just push a button, load the paper, and you're good
to go. You can walk away and let the printer do its thing until you
have to change the ink cartridges, and that's about as up close and
personal as you get to most conventional digital printers.
Industrial off-set printing is perhaps a little more involved, but
much like screen printing, letterpress printing is a very hands-on
I like that.
Some presses, like ours, are run by foot-power instead of by a
motor. Our press will be hand-fed (that's each sheet of paper placed
by hand onto the press before it makes another impression). There
are much more automated letterpress machines still available with
motors and automatic feeder systems, but they all still require
setting up the form (that is, the image) by hand. Even if you use a
photopolymer plate, you still have to set up the design in the press
and find the alignment yourself. Nothing is calibrated for you. You
have to mix your ink yourself, too. No computer to tell your
cartridges how much to mix.
All of this stuff attracts me. I love being hands-on whenever
possible in the creative process, whether it be the design of the
piece itself or the printing of it. I guess turning to letterpress
printing is kind of like a return to my fine arts' roots, even as a
graphic designer who still loves the web and Photoshop on a daily
JP: On your Kickstarter page, you write “… the amazing tactile
nature of letterpress printing is cause enough for all of us to
pause in our busy lives just to … feel.” This sounds interesting.
Could you talk about this a bit?
TS: Well, this is something I find interesting about letterpress
printing today. Hundreds of years ago, leaving a tangible impression
on the paper was a sign you were a bad printmaker … whereas today,
that deep, crisp emboss into the thick, cotton paper that we
recognize and call "letterpress" is very popular. When printing
presses were the only means of publishing books, leaving an
impression on the page meant that it would show through both sides
or even tear thin paper. Printers had to strive for what is called a
"kiss" impression--the ink from the plate would just touch the paper
enough to leave the image behind, not actually press into the paper.
However, today most people recognize letterpress printing by the
opposite. That deep impression is what many people want on their
paper. I feel like this is because we don't touch paper as much as
we used to. We have flat screen TVs and smart phones with glass
faces. We touch ATM screens instead of talking to people at the
bank. Our computer keyboards are quiet instead of the loud clacking
of typewriters. Our sense of touch is bored. There isn't as much
texture in our daily lives.
Cotton paper is thick and heavy. It has grain. It has a definite
feel to it. Add to that the impression a letterpress print makes
into the surface, and we have to touch it. We like to touch it. It's
novel. It's refreshing. It's also very beautiful.
JP: I like your perspective on what print can do. You mention that
“Through beautiful printing of entertaining, slightly geeky, and
pretty things, we want more people to pause and enjoy life a
little more.” I’ve never thought of print like that before. Could
you elaborate on this a bit - how can print bring these about?
TS: Like I mentioned a little bit in the above answer, I think that
because our lives are so overstimulated in some ways, digital
speaking, we often miss out on stimulating our more tactile senses.
Something like a letterpress print forces us to stop and touch it,
which in turn invites us to pause in our busy lives and appreciate
what we're holding, whether it's a wedding invitation or a business
When I hand out my letterpress printed business cards to people,
they usually say, "Wow, that's heavy." or "Nice paper." They
immediately feel the difference from their card stock paper
digitally printed cards. When they get past they paper, people often
run their fingers over the impression of my logo and my name. They
feel like they simply have to touch the printed part to see if the
impression is really there. And it is!
Good things slow us down, not speed us up. We're so focused on
hurrying through life sometimes, and we miss out on appreciate the
little enjoyable things around us. I like that letterpress printing
offers an opportunity to slow down, even for just a tiny moment,
like a good, healthy meal or a warm cup of fresh coffee.
JP: Where do you see this going a few years down the road? I’m
sure the common line will be around it being difficult to mass
produce anything with a letterpress - what would you say to
someone with this opinion?
TS: I'm not really interested in ever getting into mass production,
though with beautiful machines like Hiedleburg Windmills or Kluges
with automatic feeders, mass production is possible with a
letterpress machine. There are print shops out there making
beautiful things on a mass-market scale, but with letterpress, it
still feels limited and timeless. I'm not sure if I ever want to do
too much wholesale as a company, even if we're invited to do so in a
few years down the road. I like art that is limited in quantity and
memorable in quality. Life is short, and it's okay if we stick with
limited runs of certain prints. Not that I don't want repeat
customers, but I like the idea of transience in my work. I have a
bit of creative wanderlust from time to time.
In a few years, we'd love to be a part of our town's growing arts
community. I'd love to be offering classes to curious art students
or students of life. It'd be fun to be teaching brides & grooms
in individual sessions how to print their own invitations for the
memory of the experience together. I know I'd like to end up
accidentally acquiring a few more printing presses … probably some
metal or wood type … pretty paper … I hear that once you get into
letterpress printing, collecting those things is kind of addicting.
I'm okay with that. It should be fun.
We'd really like to build a sustainable, local business. We want to
plant roots in our community and help other people grow through what
we do. I want to make beautiful things that people appreciate, even
if they're as mundane as a package or a business card or as unique
as a custom wedding invitation. I hope that in a few more years,
I'll still be doing these things, only I'll be better at it.
Finding a creative niche and discovering the types of people we
serve best. That would be awesome.
JP: Is there anything else you’d like to say?
TS: Nope, I think that about covered it. Thanks so much for the
interview about our press & the company we're hoping to start up
in May—it was an unexpected treat!