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Re: Letterpress or DTP software?

I will throw another wrench into the works here.

Having been a graphic designer for 25 years (starting
before the onset--dare I say onslaught-- of
computers),  now letterpress printer and beginning
bookbinder, I have discovered that the most flexible
solution is to do BOTH letterpress AND dtp.

It sounds blasphemous I know, but here's why I say it.

There are few processes more satisfying than setting
lead type, tweaking, proofing then printing a
letterpress piece on hand or mouldmade paper.
Especially if you know what you are doing
typographically and mechanically.

That said, there are also few processes more
frustrating than trying to get a 50 year old (or
older) press to do your bidding without some
substantial help. You can't just call the plumber and,
depending on the type and age of press you get, where
do you get parts? Rollers? Inks? Solvents? Lead type?
Furniture? Quoins? etc.

There's only one process more frustrating than
figuring out why the third color won't register
properly on your letterpress...and that is getting a
recalcitrant computer to do your bidding. Depending on
the brand, age, and the software you need, it can be
awful. But I digress...

The reason I recommend having both dtp and the press
if you can swing it is that with PHOTOPOLYMER PLATES
you can generate type and line images from your
computer (you'll need a service bureau in order to get
negatives),  expose your own photopolymer plates (they
can be exposed in the sun and wash out with plain
water) which then print with the same "bite" into the
paper as the lead type. Plus it's a lot handier to
have fonts on computer disk than all the sizes of all
the typefaces in lead that you may want to work with.
They also work with images that you generate on the
computer, i.e. in a drawing program, or you can just
scratch old litho film for a "scratchboard"-like look.
For both type and image-making, it's great.

As aesthetically and sensually satisfying as
letterpress is, the sad part is that there are few
people who can tell the difference (or care, for that
matter) between it and offset lithography or laser
printing for that matter. If you are one of them,
there just isn't anything like it and do it for the
love of the game.

But be prepared for people to look at you as though
you've lost your mind.

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