Like vinyl records and Mont Blanc fountain pens, the internet just can’t kill off letterpress printing. But not only does the centuries-old printing method refuse to die, it’s actually getting stronger and captivating a growing number of young designers and artists. Why on earth is such an expensive, labor-intensive, and time-consuming printing process getting its second wind now, when literally every other kind of printing and publishing is faster and easier? That’s something design educator Erin Beckoff decided to get to the bottom of with Pressing On: The Letterpress Film, a documentary that aims to preserve the knowledge of an older generation of craftsmen while celebrating the younger set that’s embracing the traditional process in innovative ways—if she can get it funded on Kickstarter by the end of the week.
Funding would allow Beckoff and her team (Emmy Award-winning visual advertisers Bayonet Media) to travel across the country interviewing a cast of printers, including the famed Hatch Show Print in Nashville, the press behind decades of music posters for the likes of Hank Williams, Elvis, and B.B. King. Judging by the teaser videos, there are at least a few lively older guys eager to talk about their addiction to all things typographic. In one entertaining clip (below) we see two printers, the warmhearted curmudgeons Dave Churchman and Dave Peat, scroll through a foundry website, shaking a stick at some hideous digital fonts, like the Statler and Waldorf of type.
There are a variety of tempting Kickstarter bonus gifts, most of which are printed posters from one of the letterpress studios featured in the film. You can nab a letterpress sign reading, “Ladies! Please return Toilet Seat to upright position before leaving!” or the “You Are Just My Type” print (very top). Deeper pockets are rewarded with on-site workshops in cutting type blocks from virgin Maple wood using a pantograph, or a typecasting session in which you finish a complete metal font. The ultimate reward? If you back the movie to the tune of $2,200, you get your very own printing press. Rubber rollers with steel trucks, chase bars, reglets and furniture, wax and gauge pins, tympani and press board, composing stick and line gauge, hand-held Rouse slug cutter/leads and slugs, quoins and quoin key/ink and brayer, and more—the works. But don’t worry if you don’t know your reglets from your quoins; Pressing On will fill you in.