In this time and age, processes supposedly need to be as efficient and fast as possible, and preferably for the lowest cost.
As I am writing this article, I am producing content in the form of text presented in a certain type. Types surround us in our everyday lives, but we often don’t realise the effort that it takes to create and lay-out the letters which we use to form words and read as sentences.
It is at the Letterpress House where I find myself becoming conscious of time, how it has been passing me by and how to take it back. Here Sakari Männistö has established a local printing shop where the processes are done at their own pace. He prints the ink using original letterpress techniques onto high quality paper, and every design takes its time to become its best. That is what I came here for, to take time, make it mine and design a poster to print with old wooden type.
We converse over a coffee and try to start at the beginning: How do you design for a letterpress?
Sakari: “With typography it is the spaces and their shapes in between the letters that make the type. The original types for the letterpress are made on square blocks, and therefore the kerning of the letters is wider than that of digital types nowadays.”
gerund or present participle: kerning; noun: kerning
Adjust the spacing between (characters) in a piece of text to be printed.
“Because some of the modern types don’t have enough space between the letters, the different types become more and more the same and are harder to read. On the other hand there seems to be a trend in short one-word brand names where the few letters are spaced so equally and tracked apart, that the design loses its character.”
What you need is time and space to create the perfect puzzle. You have to become young again, playing with letter blocks and forming them into fitting words. You have to understand the old techniques, the value of the types and the balance between the letters. In silence you can feel the textual material of the ink, paper, wood and metal merge into the design. It is the creativity of the mind, the handcraft of the human body and the ingenious manual machines that have to work together to produce the finality of the print.
This process literally turned me upside down and made me realise that left is right (when you make the design for a letterpress print, you have to work in reverse in order to make the correct print result). Letterpress printing is like holding a mirror up to the fast-paced and objective-orientated work that we try to do today, and instead allows you to take your time and be unique.
So that is what we did. We took our time and made space to think and talk about writing and printing. We designed a print that expresses the content of this article in a typical form. It tells about the process and the end result at the same time.
If you want to obtain one of the 10 limited edition posters that CC:TKU created in cooperation with the Letterpress House, follow this link to our Facebook page.