‘Type Is Alive’ in this letterpress poster

[Tom Biederbeck] Any doubts about the power of typography are dispelled in the latest collaboration between artist Martin Venezky and printers Jeff Towner and Jim Wehlage of Third Bay Letterpress. Venezky’s kinetic collage is a tribute to the potency words and letters retain in the digital age. Think of it as animation in place. (See the full poster below.)

Second in a series, “Type Is Alive” follows “Print Is Alive.” Like the latter, the new poster is 17 x 22 in., printed on Strathmore Writing Ultimate White Bristol Cover, 25% cotton, 130cb (352gsm). And like the earlier iteration, it’s now for sale at Felt & Wire Shop.

Careful planning allowed five letterpress passes in blue, red, pink, yellow and “dirty gray” to yield a wider color palette, Towner says.

Creating a followup to something you’re pleased with the first time around is always a challenge, Venezky admits. “I went through months of variations, a lot of them complicated,” he says. “This one came out of taking elements away, rather than adding things.

“Of course in the end, you don’t want it to look ‘designed.’ I think of this process like a film director, taking bits and pieces and putting them together, and in the end you want it to look like it really happened, not something that was scripted and lit and filmed.”

Venezky’s manual process of assembling the elements in the poster made that possible. “I tried to develop an interior logic, so it feels like a machine that’s fueled by the letters, like the poster itself is making decisions about what goes where.”

In the pressroom: Jim Wehlage (left) and Jeff Towner (right) of Third Bay Letterpress

The first poster in the series, “Print Is Alive,” can still be purchased in the Felt & Wire Shop.

Martin Venezky’s work bridges applied and fine arts. He is the principal of Appetite Engineers, a design studio in San Francisco (visit Appetite Engineers on Facebook here). He is the author of It Is Beautiful — Then Gone and co-author of The Push Pin Graphic: A Quarter Century of Innovative Design and Illustration. Among the books designed by Appetite Engineers, the editor draws your attention to the superb Burning Book: A Visual History of Burning Man.

Learn more about Jeff Towner, Jim Wehlage and Third Bay Letterpress here; visit them on Facebook here. In addition to his experience as a printer and art director, for two decades Jeff Towner has taught printing for artists and designers at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco.

Pressroom photos by Third Bay Letterpress. Poster images © 2012 StudioAlex.

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