For Alan Loney, printer of Electio Editions, the process of composition is the master of all other elements of printing, determining the form and the content of each piece through the restrictions and capabilities of the equipment and the materials on hand. There’s little to no distinction between the act of writing and the act of designing the piece in the letterpress, and maybe that’s why Loney mostly published his own poetry, or works that he made himself involved in, as “[the] form of the poem and the form of the book overlap, intersect, interfere, overlay each other in the pleasure of the work, and the layers or degrees of openness required for that to happen have not in [his] experience come easily, nor can they be taken for granted, but none of [his] work now takes place without them” (Poetics 74). And Loney’s style is fairly distinctive, harmonizing the written word with the visual display in a “superbly integrated performance” (Campbell). The subject of his poetry mostly focuses on the senses, delving into the details of what is seen, hear, and felt by the poem, echoed through the paintings and images he pairs with the poetry. Yet the style of his poetry and the images included in his books are always in simple colors, figures, and fonts. While he veers away from the idea of an ‘artist book’, Loney still considers artistic and imaginative ways to merge the words, the image, and the form of the page together to create a holistic piece that reflects his all-encompassing process.
I was amazed at how he could take the simplest pictures, fonts, and poems and merge them together into something aesthetically beautiful. Loney shows that things don’t need to be complex in order to be pleasing, and that was certainly the consideration I took when creating my own spreads in imitation of his style. Imitating his technical considerations and parts of his style, I created my pieces on two-page spreads and used only the fonts he’d use in his books (Perpetua, Centaur, or Castellar, mostly). Since Loney also had an interesting in Greek words and letters, I translated my titles into Greek as well, and considered some symbolism that I discovered in the process for the images. Then, I printed these pieces out on a manila-colored stationary and added my own simple drawings, meaning my spreads would have to be unique pieces, something that unintentionally fits with Schlesinger’s comment on in his interview with Loney that “Letterpress has an intrinsic resistance to identical reproduction” (87). So, while my inspiration came from Loney’s craft, there is a sense that one can never completely replicate another work, even if that work is your own.
“Alan Loney: Electio Editions,” A Poetics of the Press, edited by Kyle Schlesinger, Cuneiform Press & Ugly Duckling Press, 2021, pp. 68-95.
Campbell, Marion May. “Shadow Enough.” Jacket 40 – Late 2010 – Alan Loney: “Day’s Eye”, Reviewed by Marion May Campbell, http://jacketmagazine.com/40/r-loney-rb-campbell.shtml.
Campbell, Marion May. if not in paint, Electio Editions, 2011. https://www.kelmscottbookshop.com/pages/books/33858/electio-editions-marion-may-campbell-miriam-morris/if-not-in-paint.
Loney, Alan. Jenson’s Greek, Electio Editions, 2013. https://www.kelmscottbookshop.com/pages/books/30598/electio-editions-designer-printer-binder-alan-loney-deirdre-hassed/jensons-greek.