Excursion on “Pressing On”

I didn’t know what to expect when I went to the screening of “Pressing On” I found the topic to be interesting but not something I knew a whole lot about. When I thought of the letter press, I thought of printing books or newspapers in the late 1800’s, I didn’t think of all the ways it was used in the 1900’s or even in the present day for small press publishers or posters. The first thing that struck me about this film was the great history that lie with letter pressing and the community aspect. I knew how important the letter press was in the early days of printing but was surprised to see it still in use today. A lot of the experts in this field are older, but you can tell from their interviews that they have a great passion for what they learned and what they do. Based on the interviews, you can tell that they hope to teach the younger generation how many things were printed before technology took over. This is a skill that can be taught from generation to generation but there must be an interest and patience to make sure it is done the right way. 

Photo from Dissolve.com

I often find myself thinking of the simpler days and wishing to go back in time and I think watching this film showed the audience how you can still be creative and hold onto the past by using the letter press. While I was looking more into letter presses, I came across and article that stood out to me about how letter presses are being used more in the present day, I think it’s wonderful to see people still using machines and reflecting on the past while moving forward in the future. 

https://www.wired.com/story/how-letterpress-printing-came-back-from-the-dead/

 Another thing that stood out while watching the film was the close attention to detail. Everything from the font, spacing, and size must be done closely and paid attention to in order to have a good finished product.

I think there is something unique about the letter press and how it relates to small press publishers. First, everything that is printed is more special and unique because it is done by hand and done slowly and methodically. It is not like one of the six big publishers that are printing hundreds of books a day, rather it is a more personalized product, which I think makes them more special and unique. 

2 thoughts on “Excursion on “Pressing On””

  1. Great. Let’s keep pushing on this idea as we get farther along in the course: What is it that “unique” or “special” quality that the “person” lends to these books, exactly? Is it real, or is it imagined? What if the books were handwritten…would they be more personal? What does the impression of something as “personal”/”special”/”unique” lend to our experience of reading books, and what does that tell us about what we want from our books, and about the way that we read?

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  2. I was also astounded by the amount of effort required for an effective press job. I was unaware of how text needs to be aligned, how things with different font size need to be handled differently, and so forth. I like that you mention the methodical quality also – people say that an item is better when the creator’s heart and soul went into making the final product.

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