Here at Starshaped, nostalgia is the order of the day, meaning that all projects are printed using antique metal and wood type and we only print projects designed in-house. How is that different from most other letterpress printers out there? They use computers for the design and then work with those files to create polymer plates to print exactly what you see on screen. We occasionally use computers for the initial concept, but the design is taken to the typecase, where all of the individual letters are set by hand. We design ALL projects here in the studio, exclusively using our type collection, along with linoleum cuts or illustrations that we create. Many of the projects in our portfolio include images of this process.
There’s an inherent beauty and imperfection to the form of each and every letter that cannot be replicated on the computer or in a polymer plate. Most of the types in the studio are at least 50 years old, some are 100 years old, and there is no digital equivalent to them! Because of their age and purpose, these types cannot be used to punch a deep impression into paper, which is very popular with new-fangled letterpress. We highly recommend requesting samples to make sure that you’re really in love with what we believe to be the most interesting and antiquated aspects of letterpress. If you are not, there are plenty of fine printers that are happy to work completely in the 21st century.
Who Are We?
Jen, Principal Designer & Printer
Jen’s been at this letterpress thing since 1996; Starshaped Press was born in 1999. She cut her teeth working at the venerable Fireproof Press right here in the Windy City and struck out on her own after that, armed with the ideals of a Luddite and ridiculous notions of keeping letterpress as old school as possible. She hates when presses are incorrectly called ‘letterpresses’ or ‘printers’, when stationery is spelled incorrectly and when two spaces are used after each sentence in digital typesetting. She dreams of being interviewed by Steve Edwards someday.
Jo, Printer’s Devil
Jo hasn’t been around long enough to earn a bio, but with 6 more years of picking spacing off the floor and bringing her own coal to the studio, she’ll get one. Follow her adventures here.