Project. Letterpress Postcard Edition
Purpose. To allow beginning students to explore the limitations
and versatility of letterpress printing as a medium.
Assignment. Design and production of anonymous text-based postcards,
mobilizing the authority of type and the expressive capabilities
of handset composition. "Wish You Were Here" must appear
on every card.
Step 1 - Discuss Precedents. Highlight re-mixing strategies by
a range of practitioners: i.e. Marcel Duchamp, John Cage, Marcel
Broodthaers, Dieter Roth, Ed Ruscha, Fluxus, DJ Spooky and the
Step 2 - Set Parameters/Set Versos. Limit number
of typefaces and ink colors that can be used on a single card.
Identify a single
phrase to appear on every card (wish/you/were/here). Set and print
one standard form for the versos to create continuity across the
Step 3 - Write + Print Prospectuses. Considering
the act of appropriation and translation, participants write text
prospectus that frames the project's
intentions Prospectus may contain practical information about edition size,
number of participants, date, site and sources; or it may convey an opaque
message - the choice is left to the designer. The copy is then typeset by
hand and printed.
Step 4 - Remix! Participants cull a passage from an extant source - literature,
song, news media or advertising- then fragment, re-order and repeat it to
create fields of visual and semantic interest. The phrase (wish/you/were/here)
looped-in. Contrasts, shifts in size, weight and orientation are deployed.
Display type or inverted wooden letters may be locked up and printed as a
random ground onto which other carefully composed forms appear.
Step 5 - Send + Receive. Cards are numbered, addressed and sent
through the post, yet in the spirit of Duchamp, who destabilized
the notion of a consistent edition, the receiver is sent only one
from the pool of possible prospectuses. This single printed piece
informs the receiver's expectations of the edition as a whole.
An understanding of the endeavor itself, therefore, varies depending
on who gets whose prospectus. It is a game of chance establishing
an intriguing link between maker and reader. This playful act allows
for the questioning of authorship/authority and the value placed
on standardization. Ultimately, each participant plays with the
notion of "here" (if I'm here, are you, in turn, there?)
and the time delay implicit in the sending of a postcard.
Format. Two-ply museum
board cut into 8 x12 sheets to yield four 4x6 postcards, along
with foundry type, brayers, ink and proofing
Time. Three weeks to produce. One additional week
to number, collate, and send.