Last summer I had the privilege of working as one of four interns at the legendary Hatch Show Print in Nashville Tennessee. Hatch is the oldest actively producing letterpress poster shop in America at 140 years, in business since 1879, known for its distinctive style and massive collection of type and carved imagery. Thrown in with the eight full time designer/printers, my responsibilities included conceptualizing posters, setting wood and metal type, communicating with clients, and hand-printing hundreds of posters.
The letterpress process is as old-school as it gets. A computer is only used during a brief step communicating with the client. A typical project would look something like this:
Here, I am printing the second of two colors of my first solo project. Dark grey ink is spread across the rollers that spin to provide a thin even film across the type and imagery
During my time at Hatch, I completed one team project, four solo projects, and a personal project. The physical limitations of letterpress forced me to improve my problem solving skills and allowed me to build a mindset of how design can exist physically off the computer. I learned how to design within a set style that the client expected while still providing a unique and attractive solution to their design problem. I learned to work better as a team and how to maintain several projects at once in a high energy environment.