Let's face facts: Unless you're a robber baron, 2009 - which did start out awesome - has left a bad taste in your mouth. I know it has mine. Jobs nowhere to be found. Economy in a shambles. The American Dream, for what it's now worth, in tatters. Politicians on the right more concerned with being in front of a camera than helping their constituents. Bankers more interested in overstuffed bonuses than helping out the little guy. In short, a mess. But, most importantly, a mess we're going to fight our way out of.
We Americans, in our best moments, are a hard-nosed, hard-working, and resilient group. We're sick of how things have gone, but we're not going to just sit back and take it. We're going to roll up our sleeves, dust ourselves off, and get this American machine humming yet again. It starts right now - and it's going to take each and every one of us working together to make 2010 the year we forget about 2009.
It's in that spirit that I worked with Keith Berger from the Cranky Pressman to produce an optimistic-as-hell 2010 wall calendar. I've always been a fan of letterpress, and I was fortunate enough to meet Keith through Mikey Burton and his super-talented girlfriend Carli Dottore. Keith and Mikey have worked together quite a bit, collaborating on, among other things, their bear-filled 2009 wall calendar. Cranky Pressman is a full-service letterpress shop located in nearby Salem, Ohio. They can do great things on the time-tested machinery, and make you look like a million bucks in the process.
I got in touch with Keith recently and explained how I wanted to get closer to the craft of design and was interested in stopping down for a day or two to "get my hands dirty". He graciously obliged and we got to work. The idea for the calendar came together pretty quickly, when Keith pointed out the shop's impressive collection of type, old cuts and half-tones. I found one of a bruising big-time wrestler pointing, I'm sure, at some barking, pip-squeak spectator and made him our 2010 mascot.
From there, we decided we'd proceed in a three-step process. The first "layer" would be our wrestler and the URLs of our respective outfits (we printed 50 with the NCZ URL and several times that with Cranky's). We would print this first run in a metallic silver. The second layer featured a moss-green "10" set in large wood type, representing the year in which we all will make our big comeback. The third, and final, layer called for the word "WORK!" - also set in wood type - and the great, little state seal, both printed in a warm red.
I learned quite a bit in these opening stages, especially how to assemble a tighter-than-a-fiddle-string lockup (still working on that one) and how to properly hand-set wood and metal type to hit exactly where you want it. We printed the calendars on the shop's go-to behemoth, the Original Heidelberg automatic platen press, better known as the "The Windmill". Seeing this baby in motion was a sight to behold, one part working closely with the next to ensure a smooth run. It was lovely, really.
In total, the calendar took two days to produce. On the first, we trimmed the stock to size, got the art together, and printed each of the three front layers in their entirety. On the second, we added a little twist to the back, drilled the hole for hanging and affixed the calendar pads. The twist, if you're wondering, speaks to the fact that not one pixel was harmed in the production of this calendar. To testify to the certainty that no fancy computers were used to make it, we pressed "100 PERCENT PIXEL FREE" on the back. And our job was done.
But our work, as the calendar tells us, is just beginning.
THE FINE PRINT
SIZE: A sporty 5.5625" x 11" with a quarter-inch hole at the top for ease-of-hanging. Perfect for cubicle and shop floor walls alike. Suitable for those who shower before work, but designed in solidarity with those who shower after work.
PAPER STOCK: Printed on Cranky Pressman's Stocky Weights "Process Blanks", weighing in at a hefty, thick-as-a-quarter .056 board weight. For the environmentally conscious, this house stock is 100% recycled. Much more solid than anything a fat-cat bank CEO can offer you.
COLOR: Three-color run, starting with metallic silver, moving to moss green, and ending with a warm red. Cranky's non-metallic inks are vegetable based and are low V.O.C.
THANKS: To Keith Berger and the Cranky Pressman, for allowing me to hijack their shop floor and take part in some letterpressing. Designers, you need more Cranky Pressman in your lives. Trust me. The pride-in-craftsmanship and letterpress know-how is off the charts. This was one of the most fun and rewarding things I've done in design, and I already can't wait for the next project.
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