- Hi Harold
Some words in response. I see you have figured out how to push "my" button. :)
I guess my interests are not the photopolymer has enabled greater interest in letterpress and widened its sphere (that is sort of a given and has little to do with qualitative measures) as much as I am perplexed that the typographic possibilities offered by digital technology are relatively ignored by those who use the photopolymer process for letterpress printing.
All of these typographic possibilities were worked out in metal practices. In this regard, of course, I am more talking about the "apostlehood" rather than the day-to-day printer. You know, the folks we all admire and readily quote; Tschichold, Goudy, Updike, Rogers, Morison, Warde, et al. I'd say that the typographic considerations as handed down to us can easily be accomplished on the computer but rarely are. I suppose that should not be a puzzlement. The day-to-day printer, whether of yore or of today, really doesn't have these concerns.
There are generally three levels of typography as far as I understand it: style, macro, micro. Most folks get the style part, and likely stay put there. As primarily a somewhat specialized typographic compositor most of my work is at the micro level (which is more often the concern of the type designer). I suppose it could be rightly assumed that this should be taken care so the printer doesn't have to deal with it. It would I think be somewhat correct in suggesting that printers historically have taken what has been given to them and in the best of scenarios, doing their best with it.
The problem really is that in the metal type years there were teams of well-trained folks involved with production. I would say that market exigencies ultimately dictated far more concern but generally metal type from established foundries and matrix production from machine composition manufacturers (Linotype, Intertype, Monotype, Ludlow) was quite good. And based on historical precedent.
With digital we really don't have this. It is more up to the digital letterpress printer to fix the problems, if he/she is even aware of them. And, since, literally, this is an option that was not available to the printer prior to digital, but is readily available (via the typographic controls offered in present-day page-layout programs and font-editors), I am surprised it is not often pursued.
I guess we expect speed and convenience from a computer and are less interested in the control it can provide. I think an example might be the ability to hang-punctuation in InDesign. Folks tend to applaud this feature (not that InDesign actually does it correctly, but it does it quickly and conveniently). But, quite frankly, it could be done in PageMaker. It was just a slower process and required manual effort. But it could also be done better. And yet, it was rarely done with PageMaker or QuarkXPress even though it was obviously, in terms of metal type composition, far easier and quicker. (I am in the process of figuring out Tiger and I am quite amazed at the low level of interaction actually expected of the user. Plug and Play).
The upshot is that we are not only abandoning metal type when we switch over to photopolymer, we are also willingly giving up on historical typographic practices, unless, of course, they are handed over to us by the digital manufacturers. If we were more concerned, maybe they would be.
> > Still, I think there were serious mistakes made in the promotion of
> > digital letterpress. It never got taken seriously in the typographic
> > sense.
> Does this refer to your efforts to have letterpress printers modify
> type to make it more akin to the weight of the original metal type?dim (or
> Also, before you write off your efforts as a failure, consider that the
> commercial printing/design world's view of typography has often been
> at least mercenary). Might there be more consideration of typographyamong
> fine press printers using polymer? Or do you see the fine pressworld making
> mistakes in the application of digital letterpress?
> Boxcar Press
> Fine Printing / Digital Letterpress Supplies
> Delavan Center / 501 W. Fayette St. / Studio 222 / Syracuse, NY 13204
> 315-473-0930 phone / 315-473-0967 fax / www.boxcarpress.com
If you read German, all the books by Hans Peter Willberg are extremely
interesting, in particular "Lesetypographie" and his latest
"Mikrotypographie". If you don't understand German, at least the highly
comprehensible illustrations and exemplary text settings are worth it.
Willberg deals both with the macro (and style) level as with the
microtypographic level. It is however to the latter that his main interest
seems to go (as is the case with every genuine typographer) and he
elaborates the topic almost exhaustively as I haven't seen doing it before.
To get the feel and touch with microtypographic issues directly relating to
matters of type design: read Gerrit Noordzij ("LetterLetter" available in
English from Hartley & Marks).
Don't forget the classics: Paul Renner's "The Art of Typography", Jan
Tschichold in various publications and Eric Gill in his "Essay on
Typography", to name only some at random.
Sometimes you may find some very interesting articles in the TeX-world, for
instance in the TUGboat magazine, which has a chapter on typography. These
guys (mathematicians and alike) are really doing a great job and some of the
TeX-distributions (such as pdfTeX and XeTeX) offer the finest typographic
software available today, often pioneering in areas were commercial vendors
(such as Adobe) leap behind. Read their articles and you'll learn a lot
about the possibilities of integrating thoroughly classic typography with
digital automated design.
Good reading! (Although I might agree with Noordzij: "Perhaps typographers