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1445Re: Real Printing

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  • funquie
    May 1, 2003
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      "Paul W Romaine" wrote:

      > Would Bruce Rogers or Daniel Berkeley Updike have jumped at
      > photopolymer, digital composition and modern offset? You bet!

      I'd beg to differ. From what I've read of Rogers (in his own words,
      and those of his biographers and friends) he thought Offset printing
      was, although a boon for the printing "industry", a curse on the
      printing "art". It's product is cold, sterile, flat, and without
      tactile "real-ness"...

      All that said, you can't get good color photos in a publication with
      lettepress technology...

      > a certain feel and ... for lack of a better term, "zen" to setting
      > foundry type.

      Yes, I agree. Although I've been working with computers since
      "PageMaker v.1.0", and can set electronic type with the best of them
      (gotta love those AdobeExpert Sets!), there is something meditative
      about setting lead type by hand. The rhythmic click of lead alloy on
      steel, the preassure of the thumb in a composing stick, the swinging
      of the arm from case to stick--it IS a very Zen activity. Setting type
      by hand is all about "REAL-NESS"--metal, ink, clacking steel and iron,
      letters and images being forcibly impressed into paper. Letterpress
      printing produces a real, tangible, eternal THING.

      Whereas, setting type on computers is all about illusion. Bits and
      bytes, transitory signals through wires, lasers, static charges, toner
      on paper which will crumble away in a few decades. Modern printing is
      fleeting, impermanent, and transitory.

      > May I quibble? Gutenberg's invention had the *potential* to bring
      > books, pardons, printed forms, posters, newspapers, playbills...

      Although modern free-thinking individuals might speculate that the
      Press had tremendous potential to free the common man, it in fact only
      aided to his further enslavement, subjugation, and oppression. The
      Press brought mass-produceable printed messages, and with it,, the
      easy dissemination of ever-increasing laws, beaurocracy, and
      government regulations of everything from what texts were printed, to
      how many chickens you were allowed to own if you were of a certain

      The press brought things like censorship, beaurocracy, genocide (based
      on census data) and propaganda into ubiquity.

      The press, in fact, could be touted as the single most insideous
      instrument of human subjugation since the sword or spear...

      I've been doing letterpress for about 2 years. I did a little in
      college (a few decades ago, printing posters for the Theatre Dept.
      with wood type on a little flatbed poster press.) I also do a LOT of
      computer typesetting. The shop where I currently work prints mostly
      offset, with plates we make directly from our computer files.

      I wish they made "relief" plate material for our Direct-To-Plate
      machine. To be able to make my own plates for the Heidelberg from
      files on my mac, and have them spit out in a matter of minutes would
      be heavenly, but alas, it is not to be...

      I love my Mac. I love Quark and Photoshop and Illustrator. I love
      well-crafted digital type (which is, unfortunately, in the vast
      MINORITY in the hundreds of currently available digital typefaces.)

      But there is something very special and almost mystical about pulling
      some slightly over-preassure prints, set in ATF Caslon Old Style on
      Rives BFK Medium from the platen of my 1912 C&P 10x15 Old Series
      press--a feeling, both magical and tangible that I doubt we will ever
      be able to elicit from modern digital techno-printing, no matter how
      high the resolution, how advanced the pigments, or how sophisticated
      the software becomes...

      And so I set type, and print. And I use Photopolymer plates too
      because it lets me use techniques and tricks on Letterpress that are
      otherwise impossible (or maddening) to achieve. Like "text-on-a-curve"
      or sophisticated separations, or strange type manipulation.

      But no matte what I do on my computer, when it comes to printing type,
      it will ALWAYS (in my opinion) look better if printed by a relief
      process. I'm sure the folks at Ryobi, Heidelberg, and Komori think
      differently, but they are just too dazzled by the technology to see
      the subtle beauty of "real printing"...

      That's just my opinion, though. YMMV...

      --Richard Creighton
      "Dreamer Press"
      Martinsburg WV
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