Article tags ▼
The revival of Letterpress printing
Becky Taylor - Artworker 30th April 2019 Read time 5 minutes
In an age where computers are readily available, it’s hard to imagine or comprehend, but what did we do before this? Well this is what the team of Creative and Artwork at M3.Agency went to find out at a Letterpress and Design agency in Leamington Spa a few weeks ago. Learn more about the revival of letterpress printing now with help from our guide.
What is Letterpress Printing?
Armed with just an idea of a phrase or song lyric we wanted to print, and a little knowledge of the process involved, we arrived early to meet Steve – our teacher for the day. I must admit after working in the industry I knew about letterpress, but had little realisation of just how time consuming and intricate the whole affair would be.
So just as Steve started our day, let’s start at the beginning - just what is Letterpress Printing? Letterpress is a technique of printing where print is produced by raised areas of type, which when ink is applied to the roller and rolled over, it creates an impression on the paper. The ‘moveable’ type as it was known, was set as individual letters and locked in place in a ‘Chase’, with ‘Furniture’ and a ‘Coin’ to make sure it wasn’t going to move anywhere. “What are they?” I hear you ask. Well first things first...
When we arrived at Steve’s studio that Saturday, we had a ‘Chase’ and a metal ruler with point sizes in front of each of us. The ‘Chase’ is basically a hollow frame in which we lay out our type. There were a variety of typefaces with different sizes and weights, to those which were more condensed or expanded and were all kept together in drawers in the studio. We each had to lay out our individual letters (backwards!) in the chase to see how the type would best fit. It was helpful at that point to have a scamp to refer to for an idea of how we wanted it to look. When we were happy, we then had to measure the height of the type and look to find the right size ‘furniture’ (different sized blocks of wood) to place in the space where there was no text or to create the leading between sentences. This was when we all needed quite a good head for maths to make sure it all fit correctly and nothing was raised to have contact with the ink when it shouldn’t. This was then locked into place with a ‘coin’ - a screw held between 2 pieces of metal which when using the Alan key provided, opened up and locked into place against the edges of the chase. The use of this coin is where the phrase ‘to coin a phrase’ comes from. Coining (in the sense of creating), derives from the stamping of metal with a print die. In fact, many typographical references come from this process of moveable type. For example, upper and lower-case text, was so named as it referred to the storing of different type forms in their type cases. Also Leading (the space between 2 lines of type), comes from the strips of lead placed in between the type to create space. Next step was to carefully pick up the chase and contents and place them on the bed of the printer. Ink was applied directly to the rollers using a spatula and then once the ink was evenly spread, test cartridge paper fed through the machine. A piece of carbon paper was placed on top of the chase and its contents to help with the pressure when the roller went over. Breaking it down it sounds an easy process, but believe me - it is a lot more time consuming then you first realise!
History of Letterpress Printing
Throughout the centuries, we have been striving to find the most cost-effective methods for printing, and Letterpress printing is one of the earliest forms to producing mass quantities of print. This was first introduced by Johannes Guternberg; a German Blacksmith, Inventor, Printer & Publisher amongst many other things! It came off the back of Woodblock printing, which developed in China around 200AD. This involved carving text into a block of wood, with the raised letters inked up. Paper was then placed on top and either manually or with a press, the pressure would form an impression on the paper. This was one of the first forms of printing, which was effective but obviously you couldn’t make any mistakes! Text had to be written out in full and once carved in, there was obviously no way of moving it. You were stuck and just had to start again! Guternberg built on this technique but with moveable type and made it so the device could be operated by hand - so much easier!
This started off the printing revolution in 1440 and was introduced to the whole of Europe. Back in the 15th century, it was used widely for newspapers and also books, with the most famous being the Guternberg Bible in which he created nearly 200 copies! This doesn’t sound like a lot nowadays, but when at that time there were only 30,000 books produced throughout Europe, this was a very significant amount. This also took more than 3 years to complete so it was no mean feat! Over the years this technique was widely popular, but of course as a society we are always looking for ways to improve, do a job quicker and obviously if it’s more cost effective - then even better!
Letterpress printing started to die out when other printing methods became available. Its natural successor was the rotary press developed in the mid-1800s, which used cylinders in which images to be printed were curved around. This was a lot faster and allowed for a continuous supply of paper to be fed through the press. Of course, this moved on again to Offset and Laser printing and a lot more recently, the art of digital printing where you can print straight from a digital file. So quick and easy! However, a recent revival with Artists and Designers alike, are reintroducing this old and classic method, to produce work which is more hands on and tactile and something which can be totally original. Working with a desktop publishing programme and digital print, we strive for the print to look perfect. With Letterpress, the results are dependent on the amount of pressure applied when driving the roller over the typographical elements, as thus creating a different and less polished look, but one which is very tactile and full of character. When creating a design, there are a few important things to remember such as to keep it simple and not to want something which is using transparency or a gradient. With ink going round on a roller, it really is all or nothing! Also bear in mind your use of colour. Ink can be expensive and normally 1 or 2 colours will work best. Due to its expense and time-consuming nature, nowadays Letterpress is used for small projects and runs of print such as invitations and greeting cards. It is very popular with business card design to give it a certain flair and style.
We all enjoyed our Letterpress workshop and came away with successful prints using different colour variations. It was interesting getting back to basics and learning the old art form and having something to take away with us was an added bonus. I didn’t realise the history behind the Print industry and how we have it so easy now. We take it for granted just how quick and easy it is to print large quantities and fix mistakes. A luxury that I’m glad we have!
Brands invest money and resources to capture the attention of Generation Z. Learn why it’s important to keep Generation Z in mind for your business’ marketing strategy.
23th October 2019 Read time 5 minutes
At last count, there were over 38,000 marketing agencies in the UK. So, what are the best ways of driving new business growth in this digital age?
16th October 2019 Read time 5 minutes
The importance of having some sort of online exposure is more apparent now than ever before – which is where SEO comes in. Learn how SEO can grow your business now.
9th October 2019 Read time 5 minutes
In our busy lives, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with conflicting priorities and demands. Learn how to prioritise and manage your time more efficiently now.
1st October 2019 Read time 5 minutes
Learn more about our inaugural Smart Talk event, bringing together industry leaders to share insights about the ever-changing marketing landscape.
18th September 2019 Read time 5 minutes
Whether they’re applied at page level or site level, On-Page or Off-Page, learn more about how Google rank websites today.
16th August 2019 Read time 5 minutes
Content marketing strategies are imperative to promoting your business. But what is evergreen content, and how can you create it? Find out more today.
14th August 2019 Read time 5 minutes
Graphic Designers can sometimes seem to have our own language, and we do sometimes slip into ‘geek speak'. Learn how to decode our language with this simple guide...
30th July 2019 Read time 5 minutes
People are using voice search to find information quicker than ever. We discuss how it fits in within your marketing plan as part of the users buying journey
27th June 2019 Read time 5 minutes
In this ever-increasing modern world of technology, it’s important to ensure that your social media platforms are making an impact. Learn more now.
19th June 2019 Read time 5 minutes
When's it best to pick up the phone or send a written email? M3 discuss the pros and cons of both, and how you should communicate with your clients today.
12th June 2019 Read time 5 minutes
Looking for ways to heat up your summer sales? From networking events to promotions & competitions, find out the best ways to target that ‘feel good vibe’.
31st May 2019 Read time 5 minutes
Account handlers play a vital role in client satisfaction. Learn some of the important elements you need to achieve to be an effective account handler now.
8th May 2019 Read time 3 minutes
In an age where computers are readily available - what did we do before them? Learn more about the revival of letterpress printing with help from our guide.
30th April 2019 Read time 5 minutes
What is a brand? People buy into brands because they believe in the organisation and what they stand for. Learn more on why brand is so important today.
18th April 2019 Read time 3 minutes
Creating a good relationship between client and creative agency is vital to the growth of your business. Learn M3's top tips for agency relationships today.
16th April 2019 Read time 5 minutes
Work-life balance is vital to any business – not only for your company, but for your clients, too. Find out tips on how to create a work-life balance now.
9th April 2019 Read time 3 minutes
From becoming an integral part of your marketing team to providing multiple services, learn why choosing a full-service agency can help your business today.
1st April 2019 Read time 3 minutes
Our creative team discuss how quality photography can impact your brand. Learn how we created high quality food photography for client, Marston’s, today.
22nd March 2019 Read time 5 minutes
From machine learning and automation, learn the key takeaways from Google’s Smart Solutions, as well as what impact this will have on our world of search.
18th March 2019 Read time 5 minutes
As content marketing is becoming increasingly more important, M3.Agency look into the 2019 content marketing trends you should watch out for this year.
6th March 2019 Read time 5 minutes
How do you choose the right video advertising for your marketing strategy? Discover more online today from our helpful blog.
26th February 2019 Read time 6 Minutes
A trio of new contract wins has delivered a £1.2m ‘travel’ boost to a leading West Midlands full-service advertising agency. M3, which has offices in Birmingham, Wolverhampton and Oxford Circus in London, has been appointed to support the expansion of Affordable Car Hire, Solos Holidays and Long Travel.
12th February 2019 Read time 5 Minutes
As we enter into 2019 with no clear indication of what Brexit looks like for the UK, many clients and are struggling to understand what impact Brexit is going to have on their business, and the sectors they operate in. I believe marketing teams have a huge role to play in planning and shaping the future of their businesses. There are many different factors that are currently affecting customer confidence and subsequent actions:
6th February 2019 Read time 5 Minutes
When it comes to local searches, businesses with physical locations have a strong advantage compared to online-only businesses. In fact, a study released by Google in November 2018 showed that 61% of shoppers would rather shop with brands that have a physical location than ones that are online only.
19th December 2018 Read time 5 Minutes
One of the leading personalities in the travel market has joined M3 as part of its ambitious plans to double accounts in this sector. The West Midlands full service advertising agency, which has offices in Birmingham, Oxford Circus in London and Wolverhampton, has appointed John Donnelly as Non-Executive Director to build on more than £1.5m of recent contract wins.
3rd December 2018 Read time 5 Minutes
It's that time of year again, no not Christmas (just yet) but the weekend that we all look forward to in the shopping calendar. Yes, I hear you scream Black Friday & Cyber Monday! Well, some of you will.... the rest of us will be turning off the TV & Laptop, hiding under the covers and avoiding making any crazy purchases - or is that just how I feel? I should highlight that statistically I am in the age group that is less likely to embrace the Black Friday phenomenon.
20th November 2018 Read time 6 Minutes
As someone who has recently joined M3, it was a little intimidating when discovering how much there is to learn in such a fast-paced and forward-thinking industry. It's very much a case of being a sponge and absorbing as much information as you can to learn as much as possible from others. It's also important to be taking the initiative and learning as much as you can by yourself.
2nd November 2018 Read time 3 Minutes
Ever since Joseph Nicéphore Niépce made the earliest known surviving photograph (View from the Window at Le Gras) made with a camera C.1826/7, photographers worldwide have strived to create the perfect image. It was only a matter of years later that the first fake, or manipulated images started to appear.
17th October 2018 Read time 5 Minutes
Regardless of the type of business you have, getting new customers can be fundamental to the overall success or failure of your company. The first step is to look inward and clearly identify your own USP’s (Unique Selling Points). A SWOT analysis can help you to identify your top strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats and it should have strong bearing on your business development plan. Knowing where opportunities sit and clearly focusing on them can help you to quickly accelerate towards achieving new business wins
10th October 2018 Read time 5 Minutes
A couple of months ago, I was fortunate enough to be asked to join the design jury at this year’s Kinsale Shark awards. Last week saw them reach their climax. It turned out to be one of the most informative, and inspirational weeks I’ve had. As well as a thoroughly beautiful location, it was brilliantly delivered.
4th October 2018 Read time 3 Minutes
Much is currently being made of the financial pressure in print media occurring at present – editors being made to re-apply for their own jobs, wide-spread redundancies across journalist and photographic roles, enforced pay cuts, and entire production departments being relocated across the other end of the country.
21st September 2018 Read time 2 Minutes
We all know that to be successful in business, it’s imperative to maintain a healthy competitive advantage in the marketplace. To do this well and improve sales and market share it’s crucial to know and understand your main competitors and their business strategies. Here are some key aspects to focus on, to help you keep ahead of your competition:
14th September 2018 Read time 2 Minutes
A few days ago Nike premiered their new brand ad. It got a few tongues wagging. The ad celebrates the 30th Anniversary of “Just Do It” and features former NHL player Colin Kaepernick who, in 2016, controversially decided to kneel during the American national anthem as a protest against police brutality and racism, which was met with great support but equally huge backlash, including a vehement speech from Donald Trump, who aped his time on ‘The Apprentice’ calling for him to be “Fired” for disrespecting the flag.
11th September 2018 Read time 4 Minutes
Social media is everywhere. If you’re not on it then where’ve you been the past 10 years? Close to half the world’s population (a touch over 3 billion people, up 13% year-on-year!) are on some form of social media. Your sister is on it, your dad, your nan and increasingly more common, so is your pooch. With these vast amounts of users out there, why are you finding it so hard to actually engage with your followers?
6th Septemeber 2018 Read time 5 Minutes
So, you’ve made the decision you need a new website, but where do you start? Your website is main point of contact with customers and can act as sales representative, education tool and, in some cases, is the first interaction a customer will have with your business – and we all know how important first impressions are! So, it’s vital its done right and portrays the right image for your business.
30th August 2018 Read time 3 Minutes
When you are faced with the minefield of choosing the right font when there are just so many to choose from, how do you choose? And why does it really matter anyway? A typeface can literally make or break a piece of design work, reflecting its own personality into the page.
22nd August 2018 Read time 5 Minutes
Nearly every advertiser would like to see their brand on TV, it looks great and increases brand awareness across a potentially huge audience. But what if you are a local advertiser who needs their marketing budget to cover multiple advertising formats and work just as hard
15th August 2018 Read time 3 Minutes
Just in case you live under a rock, on Mars, or in Glasgow, Rome or Amsterdam, this summer has been dominated by the FIFA World Cup in Russia. Daily office discussions have ranged from waistcoats to VAR, Mbappé to Modrić, predictor pigs
8th August 2018 Read time 4 Minutes
Can anyone be creative? Creativity is everywhere, you just need open your eyes and look for it. In today’s society we tend to walk around with our heads down, plugged into our digital devices.
1st August 2018 Read time 5 Minutes
User experience – or UX for short – is an integral part of the web design process. It encompasses a variety of factors, including usability, accessibility, performance and design. But the key word here is ‘experience’ – UX is all about how a person feels when they interact with a website.
25th July 2018 Read time 5 Minutes
One of the West Midlands’s leading digital marketing specialists has been appointed to lead the expansion of M3, with the aim of delivering £1m of new business.
12th July 2018 Read time 2 Minutes
All marketeers understand the importance of using highly targeted marketing to reach the right audiences online, particularly for conversion driving and there’s a range of measurable channels to choose from.
18th July 2018 Read time 2 Minutes
Tactical versus brand. It can seem like a struggle sometimes. In the blue corner: Hardworking tactical campaigns driving revenue and meeting immediate objectives. In the red corner: Big picture brand thinking about what you actually mean to your audience.
6th July 2018 Read time 2 Minutes
Defining any brand has its challenges. Defining your own - even more so. It’s as much about soul searching as strategic thinking. Especially when many of your colleagues and senior management have strong, long-standing emotional ties to the business you’re about to utterly redefine.
26th June 2018 Read time 2 Minutes
SearchLeeds is the biggest search marketing event in the North and we were thrilled to have the opportunity to see some of the best figures from the search community speaking about what we need to be aware of in our ever changing digital landscape.
18th June 2018 Read time 2 Minutes
This year saw the inauguration of the Birmingham Design Festival. The four day celebration of creative culture saw a series of workshops, seminars, exhibitions, demos and screenings...
15th June 2018 Read time 2 Minutes
A leading Wolverhampton-based full-service advertising agency is celebrating the launch of its new brand by sealing a hat-trick of client wins.
12th june 2018 Read time 2 Minutes
Our let’s do something launch day. You may have noticed that here at M3, we’ve got a new philosophy: Let’s do something. When we launched this new mantra to our team, we did something pretty special.
12th June 2018 Read time 1 Minute
How smaller agencies can make a big difference. It pays to be flexible. Just ask any gymnast or yoga instructor. And in the modern marketing world, the most agile agencies are not always the biggest.
25th May 2018 Read time 2 Minutes
We’ve put on our mittens and filled up a Thermos to create a new low temperature, high action campaign for West Midland Safari Park’s fantastic ICE AGE family attraction.
30th March 2018 Read time 30 Seconds
We love winning awards. But we also love it when our clients win them too. And we’ve got everything crossed that Solmar Villas will continue their award-winning streak at the 2018 British Travel Awards.
6th December 2017 Read time 30 Seconds
Making your customers spend more time with you. Your brand is amazing. You’ve got a great product. You offer amazing value. But unless you back that up with the right customer experience, your audience won’t give you a second look.
2nd May 2018 Read time 2 Minutes
Digital channels work. They’re the main way audiences get to know brands and find the ones they want to spend time (and money) with. But with a sweet, tempting pick ‘n’ mix of channels to choose from, which ones are right for your brand?
19th April 2018 Read time 3 Minutes
Co-op Energy do power with a difference. They asked us to promote their energy options, but to also show how customers help the community through the
24th November 2017 Read time 30 Seconds
The essentials for talking to your customers. First things first, there’s no magic formula. If any agency tells you there is, make sure there’s a fire extinguisher handy, because their pants will be going up in flames shortly afterwards.