Guest post by Alexander Landerman.
Pressing On: The Letterpress Film is a documentary-based film, beautifully shot and produced by Bayonet Media located just north of us in lovely Indianapolis, Indiana. However, the connections to the state of Indiana and Indiana University don’t stop there. The film contains interviews with Indiana University faculty emeritus Paul Brown and alumni Stephanie Carpenter who now works as the Assistant Director at the Hamilton Woodtype and Printing Museum in Two Rivers, Wisconsin. In the film, there are even scenes shot in our very own letterpress studio, located in the Fine Arts building part of the Eskenazi School of Art, Architecture + Design.
The documentary explores why, despite our access to cheaper and faster printing methods, letterpress continues to thrive as a medium, capturing the attention of printmakers, artist, hobbyists, and graphic designers. It records the stories of letterpress printers with decades of experience that want to share their knowledge with those who are just beginning their journey in typesetting. The film gives us a glimpse into what it means to be a printer and the excitement associated with keeping this art form alive.
When I asked Paul Brown about the film and its importance he responded, “I think it has the potential to open up new audiences to the state of letterpress printing and inform people of the fragility of letterpress. It does a great job interviewing people who care deeply about keeping the art form alive.” The desire to preserve this historic art form is echoed time and time again throughout the film, with all of its contributors expressing their passion for this art form, the community, and the stories surrounding it.
Pressing On was co-directed by Andrew P. Quinn, co-owner of Bayonet Media, and Erin Beckloff, a letterpress printer, filmmaker, and design educator at the Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. The film was crowd-funded as a Kickstarter campaign in April of 2014, with letterpress printers providing posters, woodtype, and letterpress related experience as pledge rewards for the 951 backers that funded the project. Since the film’s world premiere in May of 2017 at Hatch Show Print in Nashville, Tennessee, it has been screened all over the world. It is in no way surprising to see so many people interested in this film. Not only does it tell a beautiful story, but it also highlights an art form that is crucial to our history as humans.
We hope you will join us for the screening of this documentary film and visit the letterpress studio beforehand where you can see our presses in action and even make a print or two yourself. The studio is located on the second floor of the Fine Arts Building in room 245 and will be open at 11:30 am on April 28th, the day of the screening. We look forward to seeing you and sharing our passion for letterpress printing with you!
Pressing On: The Letterpress Film will be screened at IU Cinema on April 28. Directors Erin Beckloff and Andrew P. Quinn are scheduled to be present for a post-screening discussion led by Founding Dean of the Eskenazi School of Art, Architecture + Design Peg Faimon. This screening is part of the Art and a Movie series. Additional support for the directors’ visit was provided by the Eskenazi School of Art, Architecture + Design, Friends of the Lilly Library, IU Cinema, and Eskenazi Museum of Art.
Alexander Landerman is a visual artist working in letterpress and ink illustration, and his work is represented in galleries nationally and internationally. He is currently furthering his material education working towards his Master of Fine Art in Printmaking here at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana.