Adventures in Letterpress

Adventures in Letterpress by Brandon Mise was released by Laurence King Publishing in February. Printeresting was provided with a complimentary review copy.

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From the Laurence King press release:

While new artists scurry to salvage what is left of a nearly forgotten era and skill, tons of antique cast iron presses are being hauled to scrap yards or left to rust in basements and barns. Artists who are veering off in brave and unusual directions are now using these abandoned relics in ways their creators had never intended or imagined.

Adventures in Letterpress celebrates these artists and designers and the letterpress revival, featuring 80 presses and over 200 examples of what contemporary letterpress has to offer.

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Inky Lips Press | Tryckkammeran

Author Brandon Mise owns and operates Blue Barnhouse, a letterpress studio located in Wilmington, North Carolina specializing in, among other things, hand-printed greeting cards. Mise opens Adventures in Letterpress with a thoughtful introduction, addressing the history and resurgence of the process. He also nods to the generations of pressmen and women who kindly share their knowledge of presses and process with the “young pups,” like Mise (and myself), “who have no mentor or manual to defer to.”

There was a day when the phrase “power of the press” had a lot more meaning, when just about anyone could jump behind the feed table of a platen press and reproduce whatever they felt compelled to communicate in quantities of hundreds or thousands. The progress of the printing industry had nearly walled off curious laymen from being able to print whatever they felt like en masse and on their own terms. But the days when one can independently produce printed matter are coming back.

Aside from this introduction, the rest of Adventures in Letterpress is entirely image-based, with 200+ pages of full-color artwork reproductions. Each piece is paired with identifying information, and brief biographies of included studios and presses finish off the book. Mise has curated a fine collection of letterpress work arranged in 11 sections: Press Humor, Greetings & Ephemera, Products & Packaging, Business, Politics, Animalia, Retro & The Weird, Typography, Book Structure, Unique Materials & Tricky Techniques, and Posters & Broadsides. There’s something for everyone.

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Angel Bomb

Laurence King Publishing, the same folks who released Low-Tech Print earlier this year, have published yet another letterpress book that is a pleasure to page through. It’s both well designed and printed, featuring nice photography and artwork reproductions on sturdy matte pages, and its double-thick debossed covers and spine make it a nice object in general. This is the second book from Laurence King I’ve taken a close look at, and I’m becoming a big fan of their attention to detail in finishing their publications.

Adventures in Letterpress is certainly not a technical manual, and it doesn’t attempt to be. What it does do is provide a fine collection of contemporary letterpress work from a wide variety of artists and designers, and does it quite well at that. Definitely a must for the letterpress enthusiast and hobbyist alike, and a worthwhile resource to have on the shelf in an educational setting. And, as I recall thinking about the last book I reviewed from Laurence King Publishing, this one would also look good on your coffee table.

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Brightwork Press | Shooting Star Press

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NewLights Press

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Studio 204

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Trade Union Press

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David Wolske

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EVE Press

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Suzanne Vilmain

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Power and Light Press

Images courtesy of Laurence King Publishing.

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