Way back in 2014, Design Assembly had the opportunity to speak with Craig Lucinsky from Into the White, a Wellington-based design and letterpress studio:
I make small letterpress goods: cards, prints and hand bound notebooks at the moment. I use a mix of handset wooden type and digital polymer plates. All the items are designed and hand printed on my letterpress contraptions – an Adana 8×5, an Adana HQ platen press, and a Farley table top proofing press (I’d love some bigger toys, but lack of space at home prevents this). All cards and notebooks are also folded, trimmed and bound by hand and this gives each one minor dents in their perfectness… making them all slightly unique.
Living in London during the Noughties, I came across the ‘letterpress revival’ more and more. I have a long and jaded artworking past in advertising & design, dating back to when Macs first came in. As cheaper full colour digital printing & platemaking technology has taken over from spot colours & film, the chance to do things ‘the old way’, by hand, just became really appealing. I bought my Adana 8×5 back from the UK, along with a small collection of wooden type I had scoured from eBay.
I am a self taught hobbyist. I did a short bookbinding course while in London, and I did an introductory letterpress course at Victoria University’s Wai-te-ata Press, but apart from that have I have just learned by doing … and making a mess. There is a group of amazing old industry hands down here in Wellington trying to establish a permanent premise for The Printing Museum, and I would love it to get established – they have stuff you wouldn’t believe in a ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’-style warehouse at a secret location… it just needs a home. They are starting to run short letterpress courses in Wellington, so anyone interested should join the Meet Up group (http://www.meetup.com/theprintingmuseum/)
I scour eBay for it wooden letterpress type and have a few drawers full, but it is getting more and more expensive. Next year I would like to really concentrate on making some prints with the larger wooden type I have, and making some polymer plates myself using solar exposure. I get a kick out of making letterpress things. There can be a lot of faffing about to get things perfect, but it’s fun doing the problem solving, and in the end the finished product is very tactile.
The name of my press, Into the White, is from a Pixies song, and it sums letterpress up perfectly: making an impression, with colour, with ink, on a blank surface, yet at the same time ensuring sure the remaining ink-free area, the ‘absence of ink’, gives it all space to breathe.
Naturally, I have to work to the limitations of my small and simple presses, but that is part of the attraction. Since letterpress basically involves manually setting type, it is fun playing round with words and characters, with language… and I hope that comes through as decipherable humour.
I work from home (it’s a spare room empire) and have sold at some Wellington markets, a couple of stores and online at Felt. However, I have not printed much at all since Baby No. 1 arrived eighteen months ago, so these Xmas designs are from last year. All my presses are under trike/cot/carseat boxes at the moment! I will be back in action in 2015 though, so would love people to hook up via my Facebook page or Twitter feed. Then they’ll be in the loop for new designs next year.