Press On: The Letterpress Film

The documentary Pressing On: The Letterpress Film is about the survival of letterpress, in a time when technology has taken over. Technology like in everything else has changed the way we print. Printing was a very physical process; you had to find the correct format and rearrange letters all by hand. Printing now isn’t as tedious. It can be done on a computer with just a few clicks.

The film has made me appreciate the work that went into printing. Getting to see the process it took to print back then was interesting. This process consists of designing your layout. In the layout, you bring it into lines. From there, you lock it into form. Next, you move it into the press. After that, the typed is inked. Once the typed is inked, you can make an impression. Lastly, once your impression is made you should have a finished piece. Sadly, as mentioned this process is something many people don’t use today. Because this process isn’t commonly used now, many people would be in awe of what it took to print just as I was.

Though this process isn’t commonly used, I think it is something that should be kept going. Like many of the interviewees, I think it is important to preserve this process of printing. The history of this printing is important. For me, it showed how far we’ve come with technology. But it also showed me the quality and care that went into printing. People cared enough to do things by hand and to ensure the quality you were getting was great.

I think the best way to preserve this process of printing, is by doing what some of the interviewees are doing; teaching the next generation. Teaching the next generation allows the process to live and not die out. This is something some of the interviewees mentioned. They were worried that when they die, what would become of all things. One of the interviewees said if he could help it none of his stuff would be hauled away into a junkyard after he died. By teaching this process to the next generation, his things won’t have to be hauled away into a junkyard. Someone will be interested in it just as he was and want to buy it, just as he did. Hopefully, they’ll be putting it to good use and teaching others.

My favorite part of the film was learning about Hatch Show Print. They were a big part of country music in the south. When going to their website, I found that they not only created posters for country music artist but also great African American jazz artists. “To further secure the historic link, the shop’s home from 1925 to 1992 was directly behind the Ryman Auditorium, where in addition to creating posters for country artists, the shop captured the glory of the great African-American jazz and blues entertainers of the day, with posters for artists such as Cab Calloway, Bessie Smith, Duke Ellington, and Louis Armstrong” (Hatch Show Print).

Work Cited:

“History.” Hatch Show Print,

“IndiaMART.” Letterpress Machine in Mumbai, लेटरप्रेस मशीन, मुंबई, Maharashtra | Letterpress Machine Price in Mumbai,

1 thought on “Press On: The Letterpress Film”

  1. I like how you mentioned that the next generation can take over, but that you also left the door open to other people who might want tot get involved in the letterpress. I couldn’t help but think how many people there are out there that need jobs but do not want to work at Walmart or for a big business – I think to think that there could be a chance for people to take more jobs at a letterpress, permitting that they had the access and didn’t need to travel far.


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