In today’s age of technology, very little thought goes into the process of printing. A document is sent to an in-home printer and it is available almost immediately. No prolonged thought, no human touch, no uniqueness. Everything uniform and identical. The art behind the assembly is lost and the human connection with it.
One of the things I found so interesting about the film was the immense passion and dedication that those who were doing letterpress work had for their work. These people from all different backgrounds and levels of experience are all spending their extra time and money to pursue a field which, due to the availability of other cheaper and easier printing options, has all but disappeared from the public eye.
So what makes it so appealing? Why would someone devote such a huge chunk of their free time and money to pursuing a field that is dying? I think the answer was very accurately delivered in the film. People love letterpress because it is part of history. By preserving the machines and techniques, the history is kept alive for new generations to study and grow to love. On top of the historical preservation, letterpress provides a unique artistic outlet. Every piece is unique due to the craft’s dependence on artist assembly, and each piece is a wholly new work of art.
Convenience and speed are necessary for some situations, but the art created with hard work and dedicated attention to detail in hand-printing makes letterpress appealing for both the consumer and the artist. For consumers, letterpress pieces provide a uniqueness and sense of historical value that has become desirable. As for the letterpress artists, the process provides a wonderful outlet for creativity. In the film, one of the printers described her experience with letterpress, saying “when I first tried letterpress, I was intrigued ‘cause it meant I got to get my hands a little dirtier…you might be worn out by the end of it and that was great” (Pressing On: The Letterpress Film).
For the difficulty and time it may take, letterpress offers an interesting alternative to automatic printing that both preserves the past and allows artists to express their passions.
“Pressing On: The Letterpress Film.” Pressing On: The Letterpress Film, http://www.letterpressfilm.com.