For some bizarre reason, I really want to learn how to do letterpress printing. This is an old-school process that requires lots of dirty, heavy, expensive equipment, but creates gorgeously tactile typography and graphics — you’re literally “pressing” the inked letters onto the paper, after all. Designer Kyle Durrie loves letterpress too, but because the facilities and equipment are such a barrier to entry, she decided to bring it to the masses literally: She installed a tiny printing press studio in the back of a van and is driving across the country with it, offering classes everywhere she stops.
“This project came about because two of my favorites things in life, road trips and printing, seemed to be getting in the way of one another,” Durrie tells Co.Design. “I’ve traveled a fair amount with my partner’s band, and I really love the way that he travels — arriving in a new town, exploring, meeting people, and sharing his music. It’s such a no-brainer for musicians – you just load your gear in a van and hit the road. I started thinking that it wouldn’t be so hard for me to do something similar with my printing.”
Incredibly, Durrie designed a way to fit not one but two antique printing machines (a sign press and a platen press) into the back of a bread truck, along with paper, ink and other working materials. “I also had to incorporate some living space, and I tried to keep the living and working spaces somewhat separate” Durrie adds. “The cabinetry was all custom-built, and there’s a steel skeleton beneath it all, bolted into the truck body. Very sturdy! Also, heavy.”
Epic gas bills haven’t stopped Durrie from embarking on a cross-country tour — she’s stopping at lots of major cities, but you can also request to arrange a stop in your town, no matter where it is. How it works: Durrie pulls her “Type Truck” up to the curb, throws the doors open, and starts a-letterpressin’ with anyone who’s interested or curious. She says burned through her Kickstarter funds “and then some,” and is relying on donations, workshop fees, and print sales to support this full-time adventure in design education. I can’t wait till she makes it to Brooklyn.
[Images, with permission, by Patrick Cheatham]