I can recall as a kid getting into an argument with someone about whether vanilla was a flavor. I wanted a vanilla ice cream cone, and they were baffled by that- to their thinking, vanilla ice cream was simply the default, the black canvas upon which other flavors would be delivered. Don’t recall if I won that argument, but I always liked vanilla- and one of my strongest memorys as a child was sneaking a sniff of the vanilla extract bottle from the spice cabinet.
My feelings on paper are similar. I have been occupied with the logistics of getting the albatross moved, and set up, so much so I have not had much time to reflect on what happens next. When people ask me what I plan to DO with it, I tend to go blank for a second. I have a pretty good idea of how I want to do it, but exactly what has escaped me till recently.
Letterpress as a printing form has advantages and disadvantages, like any other method. It is good at making crisp lines, and problematic at doing many colors, gradients, or anything even vaguely photorealistic. I know that comic art (of limited colors) would look excellent on it, as well as text- the thing it was invented to replicate.
But I think its singular virtue over all other forms, is its physicality. It creates an impression in the page when it is used. Looking at the paper you can see a record of the action of the printing. And that is something completely separate from the content that was printed. So in that respect there is something a little post modern in letterpress- the medium becomes part of the message, if you use it to its full potential.
One of the things I have had the most requests for from people, is to know if I will make business cards for them- I have had 5 or 6 requests for that, even though I have no interest in spending my weekends printing hundreds of little cards- to make it worth the man hours, it will be far too expensive for them I think. And Letterpress is a great technique for business cards, diplomas, invitations. The thing that these all have in common is that the content isn’t the main thing. The paper is treated like an object. I think this is something that can be found in all ‘card’ type things. A card is a paper object- it has a use beyond just something you read. And as such it benefits from physicality of the letterpress process.
So I am not sure exactly what I am doing- I am continuing to research cards and work on my ideas. But I guess my point is that paper is more then just the medium- its my vanilla.