Why Letterpress?

I thought I’d give a brief background as to how we decided to get into this whole letterpress business, but first off you might be asking yourself, what is letterpress? Letterpress is an antiquated form of printing. Before the digital age, all print media was printed on printing presses. Fonts were made up of individual letters and characters cast in lead or carved from wood. Each letter had to be set one at a time to form words, sentences, and paragraphs, which would then make up an entire book, newspaper–  you name it. Though printing this way has now become obsolete for mass production, letterpress has had a resurgence over the past few years in the stationery market due to its tactile appeal and aesthetic.

I became aware of letterpress through Rachel. She would point out cards and various other media printed via letterpress and point out the unique characteristics. Throughout our relationship Rachel has taught me a lot about art, design, beauty, and aesthetic. She’s helped me fall in love with a world I was never aware of before and like many other things I fell in love with letterpress. However, at the time neither of us knew much about the letterpress process. That all changed on a trip to Half Moon Bay, California where we stumbled upon a stationery store who’s owner dabbled in letterpress. We got to talking to the owner and he demonstrated the process and even let us try out his table top Chandler and Price platen press. The letterpress seeds were planted!

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DSC_0595The trip to Half Moon Bay was almost three years ago and in the first couple of years since we causally threw around the idea of starting a letterpress business. Rachel had here own graphic design business called Birdy Blue for a couple of years and we thought maybe we could do something similar, but with letterpress, but it wasn’t until our son Archie was born two years ago that we really started talking about it seriously. I was starting to get sick of my line of work and corporate life and we desired to spend more time together as a family. Rachel coming from the design back ground and me coming from an engineering background and being pretty handy mechanically, letterpress just made sense.

In the past year and a half I’ve taken a letterpress class at Minnesota Center for Books Arts where they have a great letterpress program and studio. I’ve also been spending my Tuesday nights there at their open studio getting my hands on the presses as much as possible. I’m taking another letterpress class this summer and about a month ago we bought our own press, a little table top Kelsey platen press. We’re pretty much covered in the design department with Rachel at the helm, and I’m becoming increasingly competent as a press operator. Our main push lately has been figuring out the business side of things, which is definitely a challenge, but the big picture keeps us motivated. We hope to have Paravel Press officially launched as early as this fall, so stayed tuned for more to come!

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