Letterpress Vs Computer (LCP)

by R27 CREATIVELAB on Thursday, 27 November 2008

Veteran graphic design/typography and letterpress teacher from the London College of Printing: David Dabner talks... giving an insight into the principles of design, creative letterpress and why computers make students sloppy.

This i have personal interest in as David was a lecturer of mine in the early 90s.

First of all the comment that computers make you lazy I disagree with. It's our lack of effort or focus that makes us lazy. Right, now I got that off my chest, lets move on.

As times and methods of production change we are quick to metion what has been lost rather than what we have gained. If the skillset of students/designers has diminished for the simple reason that they are designing on the computer rather than on paper then its simple to say that the original concept was weak. And thats my point it boils down to the original thought, idea, concept call it what you will. What are we trying to achieve?

I will add, while studying the methods of letterpress and hot metal I gained a better understanding of alignment, spacing, leading and how complex to put a simple page of text together was. It was only then that i understood where the terms upper and lowercase came from. The skill of these practitioners is amazing, the patience and speed to get an article to press. So It is worth understanding the methods of old, learn from the source and gain a better understanding of the media and materials we use today.

Lets not presume that all design of today is produced on a computer, some of the most unique designs embrace older production techniques to achieve an original look in a laser print world.

I do find it amusing that the textures and quality of print with setting type in these ways is so often replicated using photoshop and other software packages and there's nothing wrong with that when its done well. You'll always get good and bad design subjective as that is.

A lecturer may frown upon students but can you imagine the scribes frowning and dismissing the Gutenberg....

I appreciate the beauty of the older printing processes, and I do feel that users let the computer make them lazy. We stop looking at kerning because thats the way the font is set. We have a lot of control and speed to experiment with variations, so why not take the time. Any tool that makes a process easy can make a person lazy, it can stop you thinking, clicking on icons at the top of the screen to arrange type without thinking about the shapes these arrangements create. In the long run, Its the original concept and eye that identifies a creative thinker and whether you let the tools you use, limit you.

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Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment. Best Regards Rajesh