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Virtual Letterpress

March 2011

By Dina Pugh, San Francisco

Letterpress has been all the rage in SF lately. Levi’s Workshops opened a wildly successful pop-up printing studio for artists and community groups to use for free last summer. More recently, the Museum of Craft and Folk Art set up a letterpress machine for their Valentine-themed monthly Craft Bar event, with eager participants lining up around the block!

Graphic designers and printing hobbyists alike have been turning to letterpress over digital printing for its more handcrafted, old-time look, but accessibility and cost remains a problem, inhibiting mainstream use. Enter LetterMpress™, a new iPad app still under development and seeking funding through the online fundraising platform Kickstarter. LetterMpress™ promises that anyone can create authentic-looking letterpress designs and prints -- just place and arrange the type and cuts on a virtual press bed, lock the type, ink the type, and print! Using high-resolution photos and scans of authentic vintage wood type and art cuts, the application will allow users to create unlimited designs with multiple colors. Designs can be printed directly from LetterMpress™ or saved as an image and used in other digital applications.

LetterMpress will be priced accessibly at $5.99 for the iPad version.

The Kickstarter campaign for this super cool digital initiative has already shown a swell of ground-level support. Individual funders who donate money via Kickstarter will help the developer purchase the antique type needed to make this product come to life. In return, they are being offered limited edition letterpress art prints, wood type, and the opportunity to name their own typeface in the LetterMpress™ app.

Not only is this product itself innovative, but the people behind it really understand how grassroots funding and marketing today can successfully get the consumer involved and invested from the early stages of product development.

San Francisco

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