Letterpress Revival for Modern Print Design

Letterpress Revival for Modern Print Design

Andrew James

Andrew James

Letterpress Operator at Capital Colour
Andrew James

Latest posts by Andrew James (see all)

As one of the most tactile forms of printing, the antiquated method of letterpress has found a revival with modern print design. With a history that reaches back to the earliest days of printmaking, letterpress has been used since the invention of moveable type almost 500 years ago. Over the past two decades digital technologies have helped to usher in a new era of modern letterpress.

Chandler & Price Letterpress

What makes letterpress printing so appealing is simply the depth of impression that’s created on paper. An image or body of text is physically pushed directly into a soft paper stock, leaving a deep impression into the paper. This technique creates a “deboss” effect or indentation. Traditionally, leaving a deep “bite” into the paper was viewed to be improper by printers but most recently this style of deep impression has become a major attraction for print designers.

The antique nature of letterpress printing requires the use of traditional presses and a craft approach. Many presses from 1850 -1970 are still in use today and require a special set of tools and skills to operate. As communication and graphic technologies grew, letterpress printing has been able to find a creative revival through a much wider audience. What was once reserved almost exclusively to the “craft printers” this style of printing is now finding its way back into commercial print shops as more and more businesses and companies seek out a stronger way to represent their brands.

The blend of old and new technologies in letterpress offers designers numerous options for creative expression. Through the use of traditional typesetting with metal or wood type or the latest processes in digital platemaking, print designers have a multitude of options at their disposal. Letterpress inks are bold opaque spot colours mixed by hand that help the image stand out on the page. Furthermore, everything from thin sheets of vellum to thick slats of chipboard can be used as a printable surface. Letterpress is a beautifully dynamic process that can accommodate the most unique print projects.

It is versatile enough to create a sophisticated and decadent look or a bold and punchy appearance. Paired with other print processes such as offset, foil stamping, or die cutting, letterpress can help create truly remarkable pieces.

Those looking to enliven their brand identity or curate a more sentimental appearance could benefit from the inherent textures that letterpress printing provides. By sidestepping the digital world a greater visual definition can be achieved. If you’re looking to create the best impression with the greatest impact – letterpress is the way to do it.

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