Woot woot! The 2018 Letterpress Desktop Calendar is ALMOST complete! We're just finishing up printing now. 2018 is the best year yet (IMHO) and uses 12 colors. Fantastic colors, lovely images, just couldn't be happier with the result.
Each year this calendar is one of my favorite projects. It is a true labor of love, planning, collaboration, and craftsmanship which spans months of work from start to finish. After spending many weeks in design mode, creating all the images and layouts, more weeks are spent with master printer Richard Seibert to mix ink colors and watch the project magically unfold on the press.
Since most people aren't familiar with what is involved with letterpress printing, the phrase "12 colors" probably doesn't mean much. Letterpress is different than digital printing, which can print unlimited colors in one press run. In letterpress printing, each color requires a separate physical plate and a separate run through the press.
Both printing methods can produce beautiful results. Digital printing is much faster and less expensive and I often use it. There are other differences that I won't go into here, but I will say that one of the most compelling and special aspects of letterpress, to me, is that it DOES require so much time and effort and craftsmanship.
Letterpress demands excessive thought, planning, and understanding of color and ink and machinery. Since there is so much time and effort involved in the process, the stakes are quite high. A mistake made on color 12 has the potential to render weeks of work (and many stacks of paper) worthless. I really look forward to the personal challenge each year to push my skills a little bit further each time, to try something a little new or to try to solve a problem from the previous year's calendar. I think most people are unaware of the differences in these printing styles, and one is as good as the other. But in this particular case, for me the journey is really a lot of the pleasure.
I posted an article a while ago detailing some of the processes of letterpress, including some info on the plates, the ink mixing, and some of the press work. The project I described in that article was working with only one small stack of paper and four colors.
To get an idea of how much more complicated this project is, consider that the desktop calendar is working with five large separate stacks of paper and twelve colors. #somuchwork #somuchopportunitytoscrewup!
The video above is my attempt to give you some sense of the steps in this project. It shows, more or less, the calendar as it progresses from the first to the last color.
Once the printing is completed, the pages are cut down and assembled into the final case.
Watching the project come together on the press is really magical. To see so many months of work coalesce and actually fit the vision I had during the design phase is a great feeling. I absolutely could not do it without closely collaborating with Richard, and I love that the success of this project is dependent on both our skills.