CLOSE YOUR EYES and imagine yourself inside a letterpress design studio. Do you think of Hamilitonâ€™s type museum? The old factory style studio filled with so much history. Or do you imagine yourself in the wild west where wanted posters and bulletins were plastered up all over the streets. Letterpress is no longer a thing of the past. There are so many new and trendy studios popping up all over the United States that are bringing back the old, rustic feel and nostalgia of wood type and letterpress.
Hammerpress studio based in Kansas City, Missouri, is not just your ordinary run of the mill letterpress studio. Hammerpress was started in 1994 by a couple of friends who shared a love of type and tactility (HAMMERPRESS). The studio pumps out an incredibly large variety of work and styles that are a pleasure to view and give us a sneak peak into the past. Hammerpress evokes feelings of old letterpress designs while still remaining true to their modern, fun and quirky aesthetic. Nestled in an old machine shop on Southwest Boulevard in Kansas City the letterpress shop comes to life. Decorated with hand cut and spray painted stenciled signs the studio is a time void where the fast pace of American life takes a well deserved break (Ditmeyer).
a look inside Hammerpress (via mohawkconnects.com)
the man himself; Brady Vest. (via blog.fab.com)
Brady Vest, the owner of Hammerpress, started the now vivacious company from a very little. Working out of a 500 square foot space with one light Brady and his friends “mostly worked on small independent record packaging and posters, as well as some small edition art books and things”. After Brady graduated from school he began buying and salvaging old letterpress equipment (Blair). Brady is most inspired by vintage ephemera and tangible paper items such as book covers, pamphlets, instructional manuals. The team at Hammerpress are even inspired by hand drawn typography, doodles tasty food and fizzy drinks (“Interview”). Lately, Brady is drawn to textile design and he wants to incorporate the ideas and designs into his printing pieces (Blair).
Hammerpress produces an incredibly diverse and up mostly beautiful range of work. Their primary seller is post cards, greeting cards and posters to hundreds of clients across the United States, Canada, Sweden and New Zealand. Even though the company has an influential reach nationally and internationally, they print a lot of posters promoting local events too. According to pressmen Eric Lindquist â€œthe posters have always been a labor or loveâ€ŚThey function as a giant calling card for usâ€? (Kuhn). Music is obvious blood that pumps through the veins of Hammerpress. Brady and his co workers are constantly listening to music while they work. Band posters advertising concerts are another large area of work for Hammerpress (Blair). The shop creates standout pieces for musicians that try to evoke the emotions and feelings of the artist.
Hammerpress doesn’t purely focus on obscure and small business works. In 2011, Hamemrpress produced wedding invitations for Martha steward Weddings which then lead into more and more variations on that design (Kuhn). Even hammerpress.net, the studio’s website, sells a large volume of work to the general public. Items like hand printed wrapping paper, postcards, greeting cards and even coasters are sold online for a reasonable price. It is hard to ignore the cute and punny “Soul Matey” card and the Vamos Bicycle Calendar is a perfect fit for type and bike lovers alike.
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Ultimately, the designs from Hammerpress are nothing to be sneezed at. The beautiful colors, bold typography and stunning patters are reminiscent of earlier times while still shining on as contemporary masterpieces. Some may say that recently there has been a renewed interest in the letterpress arts. Brady believes that the tactility of printing products paired with the the prevalence of temporary printed goods makes the idea of letterpress much more appealing in a world where the Internet and technology controls much of what we expect to see in design today (Blair). Hammerpress is a nontraditional letterpress that breaks down traditional rules while using the original lead type, wood type and ornaments and will still remain a standout studio for years to come.
Kuhn, Alyson. “Brady Vest of Hammerpress Gives a Guest a Great Type of Tour.” Mohawk mohawkconnects.com/feltandwire/2011/12/14/brady-vest-of-hammerpress-gives-a-guest-a-great-type-of-tour/>.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR Carly Rumpf
Rochester Institute of Technolgy â€˜15 firstname.lastname@example.org 610 405 5323