Our Next Film Today is Pressing On: The Letterpress Film

Like any documentary focusing on a craft from a distant time period, it celebrates its legacy, and is also brutally honest of its fade into obscurity, and not too hopeful for its return. What surprised me, however, was how much I learned how much artistry was involved in the press itself, rather than just the design of the prints.

Beyond the lettering designs, this film also highlights the importance of considering what material of stamp or paper to use, relating to the style or substance. Knowing this could certainly make for smoother work and less wasted time. After watching the film, I’ve researched additional information, and discovered the reason behind the numeric values for font sizes, which has carried over to the digital writing programs of today.

A stash of hand crafted prints for an old letterpress. Downloaded off of Pixabay.

As for the improbability of press making a comeback, I believe there are pros and cons to the case of it returning as well as it remaining in obscurity. On the one hand, digital printing doesn’t demand the same dexterity and exercising of skill as letterpress printing, but it also comes with little to no physical hazards. I don’t know about you, but I’m the kind of artist who needs all ten fingers. On the other hand, if letterpress were to suddenly return as an industrial necessity, we would be in for an economical rollercoaster having to reestablish all the other companies that helped keep it alive, some of which, would otherwise be a waste of space.

Personally, I don’t think letterpress ought to die off completely. With plenty of independent press companies powering through and welcoming curious newcomers, this craft could open more possibilities and innovations for future generations as it has for this one.

One fundamental truth that should be gained by this film, especially by young artists, is that rules and boundaries are essential to sprout one’s creative voice. As I always put it, you can’t go anywhere without a floor to walk on. But by the time you’ve built that floor, you’ll realize you have a floor to dance on.

Work Cited

R.I. Sutton, The Hair Brained Press Project. https://www.theharebrainedpress.com. 2017

Three Simple Words; A Hundred Heartbeats

This accordion book might fall somewhere in between the categories of a quasi book and a visual book. Merriam/Webster define (ex. a set of written sheets of skin or paper or tablets of wood or ivory) a book proper in many ways, but they all specify that that it includes ‘written’ material. The main component of the material is a short animation of a character mouthing the words “I love you.” Outside of the titles on the covers, nothing is written, but three words are clearly delivered through the visuals in the pages. And that’s how I want to challenge the traditional definition, blurring the lines between a book and a cartoon.

A shot of the black and white covers back to back, taken by myself indoors so that the text would be easier to make out.

I’ve went with standard card stock for the page paper because it was perfect for hand-drawn images, which is how I make my designs the most efficiently. The colors of the binding of the covers are black on the front and white on the back. This book is meant to convey a tender message of love, friendship, and emotional support. One way I like to show gratitude of a friend’s kindness is preparing food, mostly baking cookies. For some reason, when I was assembling the covers, I was thinking of black and white cookies, and I decided a two-sided object could easily emulate the look of an attractive, two-sided treat.

The pages of my book, taken by myself, spread open to deliver my simple, yet meaningful message

I want the reader to rediscover the power and majesty of the words “I love you.” It’s the arguably most overused phrase I could say to someone I care about, whether it’d be to a girlfriend, a family member, or even a close friend, and can even sound phony, so I find myself refraining from saying it when I should. No matter how much we change, and no matter how much our world change, when I tell you I love you, I always mean it in the vain of the adorable face lip-syncing the words in the pages. In essence, I wanted to make an adorable cartoon face as real and as personal as possible, to communicate that there is that same sentiment in the comics and cartoons that we are endeared to in the people in your life.

As much as I’d love to make a more extravagant project in the future, I wanted everything about this project to be simple once I realized the main idea. I wanted this book to LITERALLY speak for itself. Even the hundred hearts I drew around the faces seem tacky to me in retrospect. It really is fulfilling to come up with my own way of expressing love for some, similar to Mister Rogers’ “143 Means I Love You” song.

Open and Enter the World of Tafoya

Our subject today is Rhiannon Skye Tafoya’s Ul’nigid’, a unique literary structure that embraces the artists’ heritage as well as her ingenuity. Already at face value, two flaps of the cover folded over the front of the object strikes the reader as a detract from the norm. The cover’s material such as the title, author’s name, and humble illustration of what I’m guessing is the Tafoya’s grandmother complimenting the structure plays an important part in keep the reader’s interest.

Photo taken by Tafoya for the WSW website of the book closed off with the front cover in full view

Once the reader opens the covers, they’ll find that the avant-garde journey has only begun. They shall find more flaps unfolding every which way. Any way the panels could be arranged immerses the reader into a three-dimensional design, adding figurative and literal depth to the material. These aspects also tell stories or convey messages through the patterns, which are both based on Cherokee syllabary, and woven with a traditional pattern to weave a Cherokee white oak basket, offering a perspective of what Tafoya grew up with and the impact it had on her. Even the color arrangement communicate tones of vigor and tenderness.

Photo taken by Tafoya for the WSW website of the object opened how one would think to unflod it

The language of the Cherokee tribe, known as Tsalagi, is an oddity in and of itself. The name “Cherokee” derives from the Muscogee word meaning “People of different speech”, referring to their unique phonetic writings and symbols (Augustyn, Kuiper, Glancy, 2021).

Photo taken by Tafoya for the WSW website of the object in a full-three dimensional arrangement

Augustyn, Adam, Kuiper, Kathleen, Glancy, Diane. “Cherokee People” The Encyclopedia Brittanica, https://www.britannica.com/topic/Cherokee-people

The Vessel for Zack Anderson’s Voice

The Outlaw, The Red Ghost, Half-Lives, a Photogram Exposed by the Dirt is composed of a stack of smooth surfaced, rough edged paper that’s been digitally printed on and bound down the middle by a single staple. This lands it in the ‘vessel’ category, as opposed to an ‘object’, and a humbe vessel at that. The paper is just small and sturdy enough to be secured by one stable. The rough edges also present a rural quality to the vessel, communicating the urban spirit of the material just by feeling it.
The cover consists of a digital print of a vague shape (which, to me, appears to be a horse’s skull seen from above) that provokes the reader to analyze it or read the material to decipher what it’s supposed to be.
The text is printed with an unusually small, standard Times New Roman font, and is all compacted to the top left, leaving ample space on each page. I suppose this spacing choice provides the atmosphere of reading a short letter or even an email from a distant friend or relative. It’s small, it’s humble, it lets the content speak for itself.