De Monsterkamer

Letterpress printing across borders

In recent years, the old craft of letterpress printing has been going through somewhat of a renaissance. This method was once the fastest, most state-of-the-art way to produce printed matter, but the advent of newer, faster and cheaper printing processes made the letterpress all but obsolete. Fortunately, nowadays, there are many small and large printing houses that recognize the unique qualities letterpress offers. And even better: many of these printers see the need to get together to exchange the new trade secrets of a radically evolved field. The Letterpress workers international summit is such an event.

On the 18th – 22nd of last month, the third annual LPW international summit was held. The event took place at Leoncavallo; the oldest, most famous squat in Italy. This liberally graffitied building provided space for the printing presses and a restaurant as well as a dormitory for 16 of the invited modern craftspeople.

The letterpress workers international summit is a yearly coming together of letterpress professionals from around the world. It consist s of a four-day-long printing workshop combined with an exhibition. It is an opportunity for letterpress workers to catch up, share knowledge and exchange new ideas.

This year’s theme was ‘borders’. the 30 participants were asked to apply their craft to visualise what a border is. Interpretations dealt with the theme broadly, reflecting on physical borders as well as mental and emotional ones. Letterpress workers were able to print by themselves or with others on one of the ten proof presses, a Boston, or in the silkscreen corner set up for that purpose. In fact, the international summit functions similarly to an artistic residence. Over half the participants were able to stay in the rugged Leoncavallo building; the others stayed in a nearby hotel. Over the course of four days, around thirty different prints were produced, each in a print run of about 50 copies. The international summit drew around 400 visitors; a respectable achievement in a country were the art of letterpress printing is largely unknown to the public.

This year’s summit was also the backdrop for the presentation of a book. This book, named LPW the experience, evolved out of the first two Letterpress Workers Summits.It tells about the participants and shows the materials printed during these events. Hence the title: The experience. The book itself is a collective experience: the participants contributed to its production in different ways and at different times. It is divided into two editions:

The standard edition is 36 pages with a cover printed in letterpress. Size 30×24 cm, 4 colours, 250 copies, printed by Fontegrafica with paper Natural Evolution Recy Frost (145 gr) and Stardream Crystal (280 gr), donated by Gruppo Cordenons. The cover is printed on Natural Evolution Recy Frost 280 gr by Gruppo Cordenons. The book was It was curated by Novepunti and designed by Claudio Madella, Maria Zaramella and Claudio Beretta. The typeface is Alice, by Marta Bernstein.

The deluxe limited edition of 120 copies also includes a collection of 16 prints produced by the participants of the previous editions of Lpw and collected in a special box, also produced by Fontegrafica. Its cover was produced by Sander Pinkse and Thomas Gravemaker in Amsterdam, which made the production of this book an across-borders project itself. This limited edition LPW experience book was realised between Amsterdam and Milan.

Paper for the event was donated by event sponsors Cordenons and Joop Stoop. Cordenons kindly donated 1250 sheets (70x100cm) of Wild Sand 150gr, Canaletto 125gr and Natural Evolution 145gr. Paper from Joop Stoop consisted of 200 sheets of Viel-Hollande 250gr and Moulin de Couzi 245gr.

For those interested in purchasing one or both books, please contact:


Photo sources:
Armina Ghazaryan
LPW facebook page