Thursday, 17 May 2012

what I love about what I do

photo credit: Ingrid Punwani

This month marks the fifth year I've been practicing letterpress printing. Seems like only yesterday when I brought my first press home, admired it from across the room and then stayed up all night tinkering with it. Night turned into morning and my floors and counters ended up covered with experimental prints. Next thing I knew (or didn't know at the time), I was knee deep in everything letterpress. And here I am now, still as excited about letterpress as the day I found out about it. 

A few things I love about what I do:

I  love my well-built press. I love listening to it and knowing when it’s in need of a tune up. I love watching the parts of my press move together in harmony. I love the look of my press when it’s at rest. I love the size of it and how it fits into the corner of a room. I love that my press needs nothing but my pair of hands to operate it. I love that I can feel yesterday’s work of printing in the ache of my left shoulder.

I love that designs are just the beginning. I love the deliberation necessary before every stage. 

I love the ink.  I love the surprise when I mix them together and the colour turns out so much better than I’d hoped for. I love the way the ink lays down, settles and nests into the fibres of thick cottony paper.

I love the subtlety in the details. I love the tactile quality of the cardstock. I love the imperfections of each print. I love the distressed impression wood type leaves on paper. I love that each print is one-of-a-kind. 

I love the repetition.

I love the sticky sound of the rollers against the ink disc and the clink, clink, clink with each rotation.

I love the permanence of my letterpress and what we produce together. I love that it lets me express what I can't with words.

I love that my press and type collection have a history that I’m unlikely ever to uncover. I love that they have, at some point, been handled by someone else to print something that may still exist. I love that presses aren’t being manufactured; each one is an artifact. I love the thrill of antiquing for fonts and printing equipment and paraphanaelia.

My press has changed me.

I love that I look at design through the eyes of a printer. I love that every printer has their own method, and that I do as well. I love that letterpress exemplifies the Japanese philosophy of wabi sabi. I love that there are things you can’t learn about letterpress from a book; there are things that just need to be seen and heard and lived to know when you’re doing them right.

I love that letterpress has its limitations. I love that there’s so much more for me to learn.

I love that some people are politely confused when I tell them what my vocation is. 
"What do you do?", they ask.  
"Letterpress printing.", I say. 
"What do you for fun?", they ask. 
"Letterpress printing.", I say.


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