Handy Book Challenges the Rational Sobriety of Design

the_handy_book_of_artistic_printingFor the Letterpress enthusiast with a thing for those long ago freaky days of fancy, I give you: The Handy Book of Artistic Printing: Collection of Letterpress Examples with Specimens of Type, Ornament, Corner Fills, Borders, Twisters, Wrinklers, and other Freaks of Fancy by Doug Clouse and Angela Voulangas. The Princeton Architectural Press describes their book thusly:

During the late nineteenth century, letterpress printers, engravers, and lithographers boldly challenged the rational sobriety of traditional design by introducing intricate borders, corner embellishments, quirky typefaces, and exotic imagery. The style was known as “artistic” and was quickly taken up by letterpress printers as the design idiom of choice for advertisements, packaging,and all of the other ephemera occasioned by the rapid expansion of America’s economy. For a while, this commercial style represented the best in popular taste. But just as quickly as this exuberant style was embraced, it fell abruptly out of favor. By century’s end, the ornate bits of artistic printing were tossed into the gutter, and the style itself relegated to the dustbin of history. The rise and fall of this highly embellished idiom, which culminated in its denouncement as aesthetically and morally suspect – “a freak of fancy” – are traced in this, the first comprehensive study devoted to the history of American artistic printing..

Thanks to Drawn Blog for the scoop.

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Categories: Print-related, Reviews

One Response to “Handy Book Challenges the Rational Sobriety of Design”

  1. kvh says:

    Ooh, I really want a copy!