We’ve always been fans of Hatch Showprint, Isle of Printing, and Yee-Haw Industries—classic Tennessee letterpress print shops that consistently produce striking illustrated poster designs. Computers have really changed how designers and illustrators create. Thanks to Photoshop and desk-top design programs, it seems like most contemporary commercial art is full of drop shadows, highlights, layers, stock photos, and lettering that was just typed—not really typeset or styled. What we wouldn’t give to get our hands dirty every now and then and create something from start to finish that was never touched by a pixel, mouse click or megabyte!
We work on Macs all day long. But we also draw, sketch and paint as often as possible, experimenting with any hand-done medium we can find. This keeps our design and illustration work looking fresh. (Funny how “fresh” has become code for “doesn’t look like it was done on the computer!”) There is no substitute for traditional hand-lettering, drawing or carving done by real artists. And old world printing techniques like letterpress and screen printing are great at forcing designers to limit the color palette and focus more on typography, illustration, use of positive and negative space, and simple composition.
If we had the space, we probably would buy some old printing equipment and move backward in time, doing less and less on the Mac and conventional 4-color printers! Since we don’t actually own a letter press, all of our art ends up on the computer at some point as a digital print file.
This nostalgic longing for long-lost craftsmanship inspired our latest batch of posters for the ever-expanding Art & Soul of America Collection. We limited all the designs to 3 colors so they can eventually be reproduced as screen prints, letterpress posters. The results were very satisfying. To start, we did a test run of 4-color process printed posters made to look like letterpress prints. (They are available on our Art And Soul Of America site.) In the future, we will actually produce limited edition screen printed versions of the most popular designs.
Check them out and let us know which ones you like best!