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Imagine an event where print enthusiasts from across the globe travel to attend, work together, share knowledge and celebrate their creative and cultural differences. In a nutshell this is the Letterpress Workers Summit (LPW) an annual event, developed over the past seven years held in Italy’s industrial capital, Milan.
2019 saw fifty attendees, with a strong cohort of European and Scandinavian printers and even people traveling from as far away as Japan, Russia, Brazil and America. The Summit is a four-day event initially conceived by Officina Tipographica Novepunti – a letterpress collective based in Milan. Housed at Leoncavallo (Italy’s oldest anti fascist squat), a raw industrial, redundant factory building. For the duration of the summit printing presses are loaned from individual studios across Milan and some are even transported from Germany and France. LPW takes a great deal of effort, enthusiasm and time to make it work. It relies upon good will, sharing resources and boundless positivity.
Each year the event follows a single theme (this year Identity) and Letterpress Workers collaborate in small groups, creatively responding to it. Language is no barrier, but approaches to printing can make for an interesting dialogue – where sometimes the microscopic differences to setting and printing type can impact on productivity, but overall always help to extend the broader discourse, when ‘talking type’.
At the end of June I attended my third Letterpress Workers International Summit. An event attended by invitation only, so I was very pleased to be asked to return. This short-term collaborative artist residency facilitates a platform to work together, share knowledge, cultural approaches, and ways of thinking (not only about letterpress). Each day the dialogue spans a very broad spectrum of topics, from:
- rules / dogma / freedom – in relation to approaches to print
- composition – style over substance
- different approaches to inter-letter spacing
- the performance of ink and paper
- colour theory in relation to message
- the political context and use of type in relation to its heritage, design and origin
- language and form and dialect
- evolution of technology in relation to print and production
The list is endless – and the debate continues each year…
Images above: clockwork from left – Work generated responding to the LPW theme Fear. Collaborative prints in action with other attendees. Work generated responding to the LPW theme ‘Hope’.
The Letterpress Worker’s team printing themes have been:
- 2012: What if we were living without electricity?
- 2013: Market
- 2014: Borders
- 2015: Dance
- 2016: Fear
- 2017: Resist
- 2018: True / False
- 2019: Identity
For more information about LPW visit:
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© Carl Middleton – 2020
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