Yale Printing & Publishing Services

A Visual Scavenger Hunt & Tour of the Elm City through print media

A vibrantly colored, partially hand-printed book project by Richard Rose, Master Letterpress Printer at Jonathan Edwards College, is being featured this month at Artspace.  His project, which combines letterpress (composing movable type and hand inking a printing press) and digital printing, was commissioned with funding from the National Endowment for the Arts.To the Letter: Reading New Haven is an intimate, accordion-fold book project that deftly encompasses the digital with the analog. Computer design, digital printing, photography and hand-set letterpress techniques were combined, creating a work using the vast collection of images of New Haven’s signage and street typography that Rose has gathered over the past 5 years.  Richard calls his project “a kind of visual scavenger hunt and tour through the Elm City.”“As an artist and letterpress printer, I am keenly interested in forms of letters and their relation to meaning. Over the past five years I have been informally photographing signage and lettering in New Haven’s built environment. My aim has been to produce a kind of ‘lettered portrait of New Haven’ focusing on intrinsic graphic qualities,” said Rose.For this project Rose investigated the combination of letterpress with digital printing, a process that will reflect something of the historical and contemporary attributes one sees throughout New Haven.The book’s structure is a variant of the accordion or concertina fold. The accordion’s zigzag is one of the simplest book forms, and allows a book to be viewed either page-by-page or displayed in its entirety as a sculptural object.Yale Printing and Publishing Services assisted digitally printing Rose’s images from their large format Cannon iPF9400S printer on the interior pages, followed by the text printed letterpress on a Vandercook SP20 cylinder press. The mould made paper produced for the inner pages are meticulously crafted in small quantities by several European mills, and provide both excellent print and archival qualities. Following printing, the edition was assembled, and weighted in a book press. The finished book emerged – as, one hopes, what British designer Oliver Simon called “an inevitable whole.”