When asked to create the first advert for the Making A Slow Revolution blog, my first instincts were to go to the nearest type drawers available and work towards creating an image that in my opinion, through its process, would embody slowness. A strong choice of process, and certainly one that would be able to connotate all the messages that both I, Helen and Andy wanted the advert to get across – something that represented a handmade process, something that reflected on the slow movement, something solely typographic.
As a young graphic designer, much of my design education was centralised around modern technology and processes. Much of my working practise also demands an output through modern technology.
In the letterpress rooms, whilst typesetting my first ideas for the advert, I began to think of what alternative processes may be appropriate to use for creation of the advert – one that perhaps reflected my own experiences with my creative practise, but also made reference to the slow movement. Letterpress all of a sudden seemed a bit removed from me. It certainly was slow, but I decided I wanted this advert to be somewhat personal. Can newer technologies still be slow? I began to consider alternative processes as I packed away the type I had already set. I remembered my fascination with Letraset transfer sheets when I had first encountered them. It seemed a process more appropriate to me. Is Letraset slow though? To me, Letraset is a bridge between where typesetting ended and computer aided design began. The emergence of Letraset brought with it the immediacy and flexibility of computer aided design, but retained the uncertainty and tactfulness of conventionally printed materials. Its output has a very finished output/delivery (much like a computers output), via a very hand made process. The margin for error and uncertainty or unexpected happenings in letraset is great. A lack of consistency in the pressure applied when rubbing over the letters may produce cracked letters, or a common mistake – accidentally leaning on another part of the sheet while making a mark often revealed new unexpected marks on the image being created. Like many other crafts, Letraset’s handmade aesthetic allows a lot of room for experimentation. What attracted me to Letraset is it’s immediacy. It allowed room for within a few minutes to produce images which were real, and malleable, but could also be altered and changed. I learnt new marks can be made and entire marks removed through the simple use of sticky tape which would peel letters off the sheet. This means the process is reversible to an extent – something that is unusual when working with older processes.
When creating the image for the advert, it was this sense of confusion and hybridity that drew me to using Letraset over Letterpress for the advert. I am interested in ‘where’ Letraset ‘sits’ within the pool of craft and mark making processes that are available to us today and if it is a slow process or one that rubs shoulders closer with newer technologies. I believe it is lost somewhere in between these two. Depending on how it is applied and used, its place on a timeline of creative processes can be shifted forwards towards contemporary design processes, or it can be placed alongside the mark making processes such as letterpress and other printmaking.
Amin Musa, March 2008