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A Pressing Matter
A Pressing Matter
Full-length documentary explores the ancient art of letterpress printing

I’m sitting in the chalkboard-colored office of Bayonet Media with Andrew Quinn, Co-Founder and Story Director, joined by Producer, Kevin Grazioli. We’re knee-deep in an intense discussion about typefaces, fonts, the difference between the two, and how today’s designers are influenced by yesterday’s press-monkeys.  “You couldn’t really have graphic design today without the letterpress,” Andrew says.

And that’s why I’m here, to talk letterpress and what it means for Bayonet’s newest project, Pressing On a feature-length documentary. And vise versa.

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How it all began

Erin Beckloff, owner of Inky Winke Press, and all-around letterpress aficionado, came to Bayonet with the idea of documenting the story, significance, and staying power of the letterpress. That was that. The development of Pressing On had begun.

Pressing On aims to answer two questions. Why, if we can just print digitally and produce materials at break-neck speeds, has letterpress survived? And why do people even care?

“There are better ways to print. We’ve far surpassed the letterpress,” Kevin says. “But we still want to do it. Why?”

Fair question. Is it a need to feel a connection to the past? Do we have a nagging curiosity to understand where we’ve come from? Is it doing work where we get our hands dirty? Is it just another one of those kitschy Pinterest bandwagon things?

“I think our generation has this nostalgia about the way things were done,” Andrew says. “It’s like Antiques Roadshow. You’re trying to discover what’s out there.”

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Keeping it alive

Meet the Daves. They represent the importance of preserving the letterpress. Dave Churchman and David Peat are the epitome of collectors, helping teach younger generations the trade, perfecting the process, and of course, bitching about free font sites (and rightly so).

“You see the Daves’ homes and they’re this cluttered mess,” Andrew says, “and it’s beautiful, but it’s chaos.”

“These guys have amassed these collections that are the envy of collectors all over the world,” Kevin says.

And get this: they’re right here in Indianapolis.

“I think it’s amazing people like the two Daves exist,” Kevin says. “They can be your neighbor, they can be right in your back yard and you don’t even know it. They exist everywhere.”

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What makes this special

The letterpress is the originator of mass-communication. It’s sparked revolutions. Who knows where we’d be without it. The Internet? Forget about it. Today, it preserves the intentionality linked with forms of communication that are almost extinct.

“We used to write letters to someone,” Andrew says. “You’d actually sit down and gather your thoughts.”

“Yeah, exactly,” Kevin responds. “You only had one chance to get it right.”

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Always end with a call to action

Want to see this thing happen? Yeah, me too. Donate to the Kickstarter campaign and help the Bayonet team tell the story of the letterpress. With only eight days left, now is the time to spread the word and show your support of this historic and meaningful story. And get some cool stuff in the process. I mean, check out those rewards.

And the Daves. Do it for the Daves.