Letterpress, originating in the 15th century, is the classical method of printmaking where movable type and images are employed using primarily non-motorized presses. The letterpress revolutionized the way in which we collect and disseminate news as movable type offered the opportunity to carry information across long distances. This method was and continues to be used to create anything from informative pieces to ephemera and greeting cards. In a world where digital printmaking has become commonplace, letterpress printing has experienced a revival in those who crave the tactile quality of its feel. Few print shops still employ classical models of presses, such as those used at Spokane’s own Interpunct-Press, which date back as far as the late 1800s and as early as the 1930s.
Master Artist: Bethany Taylor (Spokane)
Bethany first learned the tradition of letterpress printing at Hatch Show Print in Nashville, Tennessee, where she began as an intern and proceeded to work her way up for half a dozen years. Since then, she has completed her dream of opening her own letterpress shop, called Interpunct-Press. Additionally, she has collaborated on a 501©3 organization, which has since evolved into a co-op called the Spokane Print and Publishing Center which offers intensive courses and workshops. Her most recent endeavor was launching the first West Central Artists’ Studio Tour this year to deepen her community’s connection and understanding of the arts. The event was widely successful, and Bethany has become a pillar in her community.
“It is very important to this underserved community that we connect artists that need to be a part of the economy and the greater Spokane community that would love to patron those artists if only they knew they were present.”
Apprentice: Katie Smith (Spokane)
Katie’s experience with letterpress began nearly a year ago with Bethany as an intern for Interpunct Press, where she has quickly become acquainted with the various phases of production. During her internship, Katie gained valuable experience by playing an instrumental role in making the West Central Artists’ Studio Tour such a success. Katie’s unique hybrid career includes elements of both graphic design as well as analogue traditions of printmaking. Through this apprenticeship, she hopes to gain the skills to become more self-sufficient, experiment with new methods, and gain experience with the storytelling component of letterpress.
“Letterpress is a storytelling art form as well as an occupational art. The prints themselves tell a story, but the printmaker also tells a story every time they talk to someone visiting the print shop or give a demo.”
Featured Image: Printmaker Bethany Taylor in her shop at Interpunct Press. Spokane Public Radio. 13 September 2018.