The Letterpress in Georgia
Research Independent Study conducted by Georgia College and State University students Emmaline Wellborn, Emma Grace Avery, and Emma Kate Leach
Mentor for the GSW Undergraduate Humanities Symposium: Matthew Forrest
US Press Timeline; and Letterpresses used in Georgia
The first component of our research project is history of letterpress in the United States as well as history of letterpress manufacturers. The history of letterpress and letterpress manufacturers influences modern letterpress studios, as modern studios use presses made in the early 20th century, some over a century old.
Emma Kate's Research -
Economy and Literacy Rates; and the Reason Letterpresses still matter
The second component of our research focused on researching the way the Letterpress changed the economy and literacy rates. Secondly the reason why the letterpress still matters today in a world full of modern technology.
Emma Grace's Research -
Letterpress in the Community
The third component of our research was Letterpress in the Community. With a focus on Artists, Engineers, and Organizations in Georgia, we found six major figures/companies that are keeping letterpress alive through exploration, education, and preservation.
How it all began...
The beginning of the Letterpress Research Independent Study
A Message from the Undergraduate Student Researchers
This research project has been a year-long process that began in the Spring 2023 semester with senior art major, Emmaline Wellborn, creating a JS timeline of U.S Press History. By Fall of 2023, two additional senior art majors, Emma Grace Avery and Emma Kate Leach, joined the team to widen the research to "The History of The Letterpress in Georgia". By broadening the research field, we were able to include topics like: the letterpress and how it has affected literacy rates, the evolution of the letterpress - it's purpose throughout history vs. its purpose now, letterpress artists and companies in Georgia, as well as non-profit, community-based printmaking organizations focused on education and preservation of printmaking as an art form. We will be presenting our research at the Georgia Southwestern University Undergraduate Humanities Symposium on November 10, 2023 in Americus, Georgia. Emma Kate Leach will be continuing on with this research throughout the Spring 2024 semester. She will be presenting this research at MURACE (Mentored Undergraduate Research and Creative Endeavors) at Georgia College and State University next year.
Special thanks to Matthew Forrest, Interim Chair of the GCSU Art Dept./Printmaking Professor, and Jolene Cole, Professor of Library Services, for being amazing advisors on this project, and to Megan Fowler (Brown Parcel Press) and Clemens Bak (Red Onion Press) for teaching us so much about the letterpress machine and its many capabilities.
The Modern Letterpress
Why is Letterpress still relevant today?
In a world full of modern printing, where we value printing quickly and cheaply, it’s easy for the art of letterpress to be forgotten or to seemingly loose its value. Letterpress printing is no longer the print of choice for things like books, newspapers, tickets, brochures, etc. letterpress has now moved into an area of the arts, and it is often used for wedding invitations, thank you cards, or any event that wants to distinguish itself as elegant. The art of letterpress is also entering the realm of art for enjoyment alone, no longer just for practical use. Letterpress is now an area of art that can be compared to painting, drawing, etc. in the way that it is inherently valuable just as a form of creating. Letterpress no longer needs a practical purpose to be appreciated. In a world full of mass production, craftsmanship is still invaluable.