One of the oldest printing methods in existence is Letterpress printing; first invented in China around 1040 AD, this is a technique of relief printing using a printing press.

Movable metal or wooden type are placed together; ink is rolled over the type and paper is pressed against it to create an impression. This is a very time consuming and laborious job, but one that creates unique prints.

Letterpress printing tools

Digital printing is a more modern method which is accessible to everyone, allows designers to print their work almost instantly, and makes mass production easy.

So, why isn’t print dying out?

Because when it’s done well, it’s beautiful. And it stands out in a digital world.

Print occupies physical space; books, magazines and posters all catch the eye and are a talking point in social spaces.

A well designed, printed book cover can be impossible to ignore; it exists physically and repeatedly reminds you of its presence. A web page on the other hand is easily forgotten once we turn away from the computer screen.

Although printing is now easier than ever, the textures, colours and tactility achieved by hand made methods such as screen printing and letterpress are far superior.

Works by Alan Kitching are a perfect example of modern day letterpress, which has seen a revival in an artisanal form. His beautiful prints celebrate the power of typography and have become pricey art pieces.

Examples of Alan Kitching's work

I believe that print today is very much alive and that everything is best read in print. Nothing compares to the handmade feel of a book and the tactile qualities of a well designed business card.

It is the originality, which is achieved when something is printed, especially by hand. This is something that computers cannot replicate.

Alan Kitching

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