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Upside Down, Left To Right, Danny Cooke’s Filmic Ode to Letterpress

Letterpress lives on in this documentary short by U.K. filmmaker Danny Cooke, who offers a glimpse inside the movable-type printing workshop at Plymouth University. “This is a 500-year-old process, and it moves like a 500-year-old process,” says Paul Collier, a typography and letterpress technician at the school. “If you set up a paragraph or sentence, if you get wrong or if you haven’t planned your way forward…then you just have to take it apart and start all over again.” At the same time, he describes letterpress as calm, therapeutic, and “a very enjoyable process.” Sure, there’s a whiff of masochism that comes with watching a film about letterpress on a computer loaded with hundreds of font options—akin to reading about the glory days of ocean liners while on a transcontinental flight—but that’s all part of the fun, so get off “the lithography bandwagon” (as Collier calls it) and join the ink-rolling revival.

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