Typography plays a key role in our design work; selecting the right typeface makes a huge difference to the final visual impact of our work. To help the team get a better understanding of the key principles of setting type (and as an excuse for the designers to have fun) we recently went to an evening short course on Letterpress at Leicester Print Workshop.
The 2-hour class began with an introduction to and brief history of letterpress and wood engravings, including its use in the print industry. We then learnt how to construct, paint and print on both lead and wood typefaces, getting to grips with crafting sentences backwards. It certainly wasn’t as easy as it looks!
Believe it or not, before computers and the magic of InDesign, the spacing in each sentence was set by selecting a blank piece of the right size. This sounds crazy, we know. However, we found that taking the time to work out the perfect spacing of letters was oddly satisfying and makes you appreciate the final outcome even more. We also learned how the kerning between letters that we take for granted was made possible with special indentations to allow letters to slot together for a closer fit.
And as they say, you learn something new every day. For our account managers, this included discovering that familiar terms such as galley proofing and leading originally came from processes of letterpress printing. Leading, for example, refers to the pieces of lead required to create spaces between individual lines.
So we’d like to say a big thank you to our friends at Leicester Print Workshop, for not only giving us the chance to bring some of our favourite pieces of copy to life, but also for teaching us a thing or two!