Press Marks

Every private press needs a press mark or device. It works a bit like a trademark (I'd rather not call it a logo) which is usually printed on the title page of any book produced by a private press.

Sorting out a press mark for Semple Press has been really difficult for some reason, but I think I'm making progress on this now. I was very inspired by the Letterpress: Something to Say conference in November 2012 at the St Bride Library, and since then my thoughts on what I want to do at Semple Press have become a bit more coherent. Having 'something to say' is part of the story, but Semple Press is also becoming part of my graphic design practice – a way to explore graphic design history and experiment away from the screen. It's also a place where I can find my own voice away from paid work. 

Using speech marks, or commas, or other pieces of actual type in the press mark seems to fit with this ethos, so last weekend I started messing with the punctuation.  

Press mark experimentation - wood type

I'll come clean here -- with the wooden type used above I only had two commas and two speechmarks and so after arranging them in pairs I printed a few copies then scanned and assembled these designs in photoshop. Is this allowed in letterpress circles? Don't care really; I was experimenting, not practicing my registration skills. The top two designs were made using commas, the rest with speechmarks. These worked so much better than I expected and I had forgotten that the negative space in the arrangements would have as much impact as the punctuation itself. What you can't see in the prints is the rest of the actual pieces of type, which is what dictates what you can and can't do to make this sort of pattern. This is why you end up with a completely different pattern with commas than you do with speechmarks. This is obvious now, less so when I started working on this!

Experimental press marks with wood and metal type

These marks were all made on the press bed. The tea cup is made up of wood type, as are the triangular commas next to it. The rest are made with commas from a metal typeface, Franklin Gothic 72pt. It gives a very different effect to the softer woodtype. 

There's definitely a press mark in here somewhere - or at least I'm on the right lines - but I need to live with them for a few days first.