Pressing Matters Letterpress Conference
Pressing Matters is a conference dedicated to giving letterpress relevance in a modern, digital age by appreciating the tactile, historical, and artisanal aspects of the craft. It is located in Berlin, whose architecture is a parallel to the history of typography, fusing old aesthetics with the new and contemporary.
Germany is home to the Gutenberg Press, historically one of the most important inventions of all time. Pressing Matters aims to blend modern typography nuances with traditional letterpress elements.
SECONDARY LOGOTYPE LOCKUP
TYPOGRAPHY & COLOR
The use of wood type in letterpress is a very distinct characteristic of the craft. I wanted the typography in Pressing Matters to convey the rich, expressive nature of wood type and anchor it to a contemporary aesthetic.
POLYMER PLATE CREATION
In an effort to experiment with new methods and get my hands a little dirty, I opted to create polymer plates for the conference over simply ordering them already produced. I used a blank, unexposed sheet of KF 95 letterpress polymer because this particular polymer is able to retain small details like thin lines.
After considerable research, I learned that the process for creating a plate is almost identical to exposing a silkscreen. A negative on acetate is printed—in this case, two were used because one wasn't dark enough—and then placed on the unexposed polymer. Then, the polymer is exposed to UV light for about 10 to 15 minutes. A halogen bulb works just fine. Next, using warm water and a basin, I washed away the unexposed polymer, which was soft under the warm water.
Finally, I adhered the plate to a metal base that was type high and created the debossing using a platen press.
LOCKUP TYPE ELEMENTS & ALIGNMENT MISTAKES
In letterpress, arranged letters are locked up in a chase using pieces of wood called furniture and a mechanical expanding device called a quoin. A common typesetting method is arranging words on top of each other. This makes locking up the type significantly easier. Another typesetting convention is using numbers and punctuation as a substitute for letters due to there being only a certain number of letters in every tray.
I wanted to emulate the lockup aesthetic of letterpress using digital type, without incorporating chipped edges or textures. I did this by creating individual lockup treatments for dates, titles, times, and pacing typography. Once the lockups were created, I was able to arrange them as modular elements, and tailored each collected lockup to what needed to be understood.
Mistakes in printing alignment can occur because of multiple different lockups being implemented when there is a color change. Throughout the Pressing Matters brand, small alignment mistakes permeate and add a unique flavor to every spread.