Phoenix Design Week filled the downtown area with folks looking to beautify the city last weekend. The event featured workshops, seminars, and more, and we couldn't help but join in for a letterpress workshop at Hazel & Violet. Being newbies ourselves, we had a lot to learn at the small, 20-person class. Here are nine things that stuck with us long after the ink dried on our handmade posters.
Typeface sets the tone.
This is a pretty basic rule for design in general, but it is important to note how script, serif, and more modern styles will alter the feeling of your piece.
Pick a plan and stick with it.
People were paired in groups of two at the workshop, so picking an idea was half of the battle. Collaborating on the pieces meant the ideas were vetted between two people, but it also meant, to save time, picking a course of action and moving forward was important, too.
Less is more.
This is especially true with ink. Over-inking your components means the design could bleed when pressed. However, this rule also holds true to overall design in most cases at a beginning level. Busy designs often communicate visual messages less clearly.
Lining it all up can be tricky.
Unless you're measuring things perfectly, at some point you kind of just have to guess and hope it will look good. This is especially true the more layers you add to one design.
Apply some pressure.
Old letterpresses need a little elbow grease to get the print on the paper. Don't be afraid to get down there and really pull.
Imperfections make letterpress pieces interesting.
Even if it isn't lined up perfectly or flawlessly inked and printed, letterpress prints actually look cooler with little discrepancies. It also means each piece is completely one of a kind.
There are many ways to get to reach the same destination.
Letterpress machines vary, but that's not all. There are different ways to lead, kern, and otherwise align your design. The pros running the class recommend taking many classes from many different people so that you can learn as many styles of letterpress as possible.
Clean up after yourself.
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You don't want to leave inky and you don't want the next person printing to have to clean your mess before they get to work. The quicker you clean after the job is done, the easier it will be to get everything back to looking how it should. If you take care of your pieces well, they'll last for years and years.
No matter what happens, letterpress is inherently adorable.
There's pretty much no wrong answer when it comes to letterpress. Just experiment and try things out for yourself.