Letterpress - header image

Letterpress is typography

Letterpress business cards on Wild white cotton paper 450 gsm.
Letterpress business cards on Wild white cotton paper 450 gsm.

Letterpress is a very old method. In Poland it is called "typography". Letterpress is an Anglo-Saxon name used mainly in the United States. It consists in imprinting fonts or other graphics prepared on relief matrices. Used on appropriately thick materials, it leaves an imprinted traces. It can be used for debossing.

The term "typography" has two meanings, which in the past were one and the same before the invention of advanced printing techniques. It means both the technique of relief printing (where the printing element - a matrix is ​​raised), as well as shaping structures and arranging texts in its visual dimension (the art of lettering).

Today's meaning of letterpress

Currently, letterpress, understood as classic typography, has a different role. Is perceived as a printing technique but above all refinement. With the help of typographic machines it is possible to create very visible recesses in materials, which - among other things - today typography is more often associated with printing art than with the technique used to meet industrial needs. Originally used only for printing - now mostly for debossing in thick paper. Using the same technical means, you can make reflections of the designed graphics in such a way as to create effective embossing, both concave and convex. Packaging with embossed brand logos, or embossed promotional materials such as business cards or invitations are just examples of products that can be refined in this way.

Classic typographic technique experiences a second youth

Letterpress is popular despite the fact that it requires a lot of preparation and the use of outdated machines. It is experiencing it's second youth because of the many new papers that have become available and the Renaissance interest in the "vintage" style. The most interesting of the new material is the cotton paper we use, which is very interesting in the touch and is so "plump" that you can easily imprint on it various patterns. On such a "raw" textured surface a beautiful effect of space is obtained, three-dimensionality imperceptible at the stage of graphic design and only when the debossing is physically done. The effects of letterpress are noticed in the subtle refraction of light on the edges of debossed patterns in the made cavities. Letterpress, despite often minimalist designs, is seen as a very elegant refinement technique. A well-chosen printing substrate, its texture and color together with smooth sunken elements give the products impossible to design and visualize on the computer. Visualizations (mockups) often reflect only a substitute for what is obtained in reality.

Technical notes for letterpressing

Letterpress can be made from both sides of the same material, but remember that on the reverse side there should be no other debossing on the reverse side. They should be designed in such a way that the stampings on the one side "pass" with those on the reverse.