Review: Impressive


I remember seeing a small machine, almost antique-like that stood at the corner of a big printing house when I was checking the proofs of a magazine I was spearheading a few years ago. I asked the manager about it, and he mentioned that it was a letterpress machine – very old and broken, so it couldn’t be used anymore. It looked regal, despite its age, and very beautiful — it left me wondering about the prints that came out of the machine before it was left by the corner. Thankfully, artisans everywhere are now taking these old presses and giving them a new lease of life; and knowing that has made me feel lots better — I wouldn’t want these old presses to suffer the same fate as the one I saw.


With the resurgence of craft and the handmade movement, letterpressed stationery ranging from bold, typographic promotional items to pretty and cute wedding invitations are everywhere to be found. They’re the perfect accompaniment to the movement – they’re tactile, beautiful, and because they’re hand-pressed, each one is slightly different from one another.

So when Impressive: Printmaking, Letterpress and Graphic Design came in the mail, I was ecstatic. It’s a beautiful book – big (it measures 12 × 9.8 inches!), generous and so very inspiring.



Title: Impressive: Printmaking, Letterpress and Graphic Design
Hardcover: 256 pages

The book covers more than 100 letterpress printing studios and their work, interspersed with interviews with a few of them about their craft. The book is a great showcase of how contemporary designs fits in beautifully with this style of printing, made popular in the mid-15th century. Fun fact: Did you know that back then the impression made by a letterpress machine is not as distinct as they are now? Today, impressions are made deeper to set themselves apart from other conventional printing processes. A badge of honor, if you will!



As small letterpress studios began popping up all over the USA, new designs, ideas and concepts are explored – taking letterpress printing to artistic levels deserving of merit. Look closely at several studios and you can see a lot of intricate details, not to mention the explosion of colors (no simple task as letterpress allows for printing only one color at a time). Some of my favorite letterpress artist/studios are in there — Swink, Studio on Fire, Sycamore Street Press, and Tad Carpenter!


Impressive is a wonderful book showcasing exactly how contemporary designers are pushing the boundaries of this conventional printmaking process, while revealing the various studios that are doing, well, really impressive work. {To read more about the letterpress process, check out this Wikipedia entry.}


Happy weekend everyone! I’m off to enjoy a hot boiling bowl of fish noodles with my family before I sit down with a cup of tea and go over the progress made by the participants of the Pikaland Artist Bootcamp.

p/s—have you checked out our full lineup of classes for Fall yet?

7 Replies to “Review: Impressive”

  1. emily says:

    ooo wow, amazing book… it’s just moved to the top of my (rather long) wish list!!

  2. lesley barnes says:

    what a lovely book….I would love to do some letterpress

  3. Scott Rubel says:

    Thanks for letting us know about this book. People are doing such fantastic work these days.

  4. Kena Ramos says:

    Wow great and pretty book. I see fantastic works in the book.

  5. AlpineGypsy says:


    Thanks for this little review, that book is at the TOP of my list now! I’m so curious about letterpress….it looks completely fascinating. Beautiful book too.


  6. todd sledzik says:

    I know fellow Kent State Alum, Mikey Burton has some work in here – worth a look. He’d likely recommend Keith Berger ( if want another resource for modern letterpress

  7. printers ink says:

    nice information about book

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