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January 2, 2018

Brian Wood, Letterpress and Design


In a world that gets more technologically focused by the day, it’s refreshing to learn about others who are going back to their industrial roots. Brian Wood, owner of Dogs and Stars Letterpress and Design, in Lafayette Colorado, has always had a love for the designs of yesterday; old muscle cars, rusting signage, and vinyl. And what designer with a love for type and all things built-to-last wouldn’t also have a collection of vintage typewriters still in use?

“Too bad emails and texts have taken over as our go-to media for communicating. ‘Cause I could type some mean letters on them.”

Six years ago, Brian turned his old-timey tendencies toward another fading art, letterpress printing. Prior to 1945 this was the primary method to create printed items like cards, books, and posters. Tiny metal and wood block letters were painstakingly arranged, inked, and pressed into paper on printing press machines. Today, we're used to hitting the print button and impatiently waiting 45 seconds for our flat, inkjet printout. However, letterpress printing is having a revival amongst the art and design crowd. And ever since Brian purchased his first Showcard Proof Press, his collection and his business are growing.

“This press, while somewhat heavy, basically sits on a table (or any flat surface) and is great for learning to set type and other letterpress fundamentals. It’s the acoustic guitar before you get the "Flying V”. It’s somewhat portable and now I mostly use it to take to workshops and live print demos."

Only a year later, Brian added a second press to his arsenal, a Golding Jobber No. 7 and it’s a beauty. It’s his main press, at the moment, and the one used for his stunning commercial work. It sits, regally, next to the latest addition to this letterpress outfit, the “prince of presses”, the Original Heidelberg Windmill. This 2,300 pound machine had just been delivered the day before my visit to Dogs and Stars. Apparently the delivery was a precarious operation, but it found it’s home unscathed in Brian and Kim Wood’s renovated garage studio.

Brian joked that he’d be nose deep in the press’s original manual as soon as our visit and tour was over. He’s determined to use this workhorse to it’s fullest potential; die-cutting, embossing, scoring, stamping, perforating, and printing his way into the future.