“There were enormous developments in art and design before computers came around, so it seems ridiculous to completely turn our backs on non-computer techniques.” That’s silk screen auteur Mike Davis talking about the virtues of antique production methods. The proof of his analog-is-good concept takes shape as a stunning series of Arcade Fire posters featured in Low Tech Print (Laurence King, Oct. 22).
Compiled by U.K. designer Caspar Williamson, the picture book encompasses color-blasted Peruvian “Chicha”-style street posters Braziian woodblock fliers, pastel Italian linocuts, psychedelic letterpress gig posters from Nashville and promotional hand-outs made by Portland designers on the obsolete Japanese “Gocco” toy printer.
Author Williamson writes “In an oversaturated digital age, these most traditional of methods have allowed people to reconnect with the physical process of print that they have been pining for.”
Low Tech Print also includes instructions for do-it-yourselfers who want to master hand-held rubber stamp production or learn why letterpress cultists worship a vanishing species of machinery known as the Vandercook proofing press.
Digital-savvy artists and designers say that mechanical production offers an opportunity to get their hands inky with graphic pieces that celebrate rough-hewn character over pixel-precise homogeneity.
“It’s easy to get caught up in all the technical aspects of creating a design on the computer so the raw, hands-on aspects of screenprinting are a nice escape,” notes Burlesque of North America’s Davis. “I’ve fallen in love with watching a design of mine come to life through the different stages of the screenprinting process and then getting to sign, number, stamp, and sell copies of a concert poster directly to music fans.”
Hand-operated printing tools imbue the finished products with tactile charm and valuable cachet, says Davis. “The people who purchase our prints love the fact that they were made by hand in a limited edition. It makes it more special and collectible than something that was spat out of a laser printer.”
Check out the slide show for a sampling of eye-popping design pieces made the old-fashioned way.