Pressing On Featured on Creative South

We recently had the opportunity to be featured on Creative South's Podcast and had a wonderful conversation with Jason Frostholm, the host! Information and a listen/download link below. 

Episode 74 - Pressing On: The Letterpress Film

"Today, I talk with Erin Beckloff and Andrew Quinn, the co-directors of Pressing On: The Letterpress Film. We talk about how the documentary came about, why it was important to tell this story, and more, all right after this."

Listen to the show here:

Save-the Date: Pressing On Premiere

 We are thrilled to announce that the public premiere of  Pressing On: The Letterpress Film  wil be at the  Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum  and  Hatch Show Print  on  Saturday, May 27, 2017  in Nashville, Tennessee. 

We are thrilled to announce that the public premiere of Pressing On: The Letterpress Film wil be at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum and Hatch Show Print on Saturday, May 27, 2017 in Nashville, Tennessee. 

The event will be a full day of letterpress activities including Nashville letterpress shop open houses and Hatch history talks and tours—culminating with a red carpet premiere of the film in the 800 seat CMA Theater at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum that evening. 

We are still working out all the details, but wanted to let you, our Backers, know about the event early because you will be receiving a priority invitation to the online ticket registration. Thanks to the incredible generosity of the Country Music Hall of Fame, movie tickets and most of the day time activities will be FREE. We hope many of you can attend to celebrate the film you helped create. Lodging in Nashville Memorial Day weekend is pricey so we recommend booking an Air B&B or hotel soon to save on travel costs.

  Hatch Show Print  One of the featured shops in  Pressing On,  Hatch Show Print has been printing letterpress posters for nearly 140 years. Now an integral part of the Country Music Hall of Fame, Hatch continues designing and printing around 600 different posters a year, carrying on the 19th century traditions and practices of the letterpress poster shop it was founded as three generations ago.

Hatch Show Print
One of the featured shops in Pressing On, Hatch Show Print has been printing letterpress posters for nearly 140 years. Now an integral part of the Country Music Hall of Fame, Hatch continues designing and printing around 600 different posters a year, carrying on the 19th century traditions and practices of the letterpress poster shop it was founded as three generations ago.

Hatch Show Print has four different spaces in the CMHF location, designed and built to suit the demands and mission of such a busy icon of design, letterpress printing, and history:

  • A large print shop where visitors can watch posters roll off the presses;
  • A store with wall space to display the 100-plus posters created by the print shop and available for purchase;
  • Hatch Show Print's Haley Gallery, featuring historic restrikes of original posters from the Hatch collection, as well as Master Printer Jim Sherraden’s monoprints—contemporary interpretations and celebrations of the classic wood blocks of Hatch Show Print; and
  • Hatch Show Print Space for Design, a classroom and workshop space that will offer visitors and clients opportunities to learn more through demonstrations, hands-on printing and more in-depth programs.
  Hatch Show Print's Celene Aubry and Jim Sherraden in Pressing On

Hatch Show Print's Celene Aubry and Jim Sherraden in Pressing On

Request a Film Screening! 
Screenings will begin Summer 2017 after the premiere so if you think Pressing On would look good on the big screen in your town or you want to bring the filmmakers to show the film and speak at your venue or organization, let us know!

Please fill out the Screening Request Form on our website and we'll get in touch soon.

The Pressing On Team

PRINT MAGAZINE Features Pressing On in Letterpress Journals

The Letterpress Journals: Typoholic - Journal Entry # 4

Original Source: 

We packed our vehicles Tetris-style with lights, stands, and all sizes of black Pelican equipment cases, and of course the camera. Being my first road trip with the guys, my initial reaction was that we had way too much stuff and we’d never need it all (I was wrong). For future movie-making reference, the Prius proved to be the best, most spacious production car we could’ve chosen. Andrew Quinn and I spent most of the drive to Des Moines discussing the overall themes for the film, the big ideas that are going to form the Living Story of the documentary. We call it a Living Story because regardless of what we expect or want the interviewees to say, their answers and thoughts are what shape the narrative of the film.

Based on my knowledge of the letterpress community, I selected the majority of the cast of printers before the Kickstarter campaign. They are a representative group who offer a range of points-of-view, life experiences, and specialized skills or areas of knowledge related to printing. The cast is also connected through their relationships, which is crucial as we examine letterpress culture. Andrew conducted phone pre-interviews to give us some background for each printer and to give us a base to write questions. July in Iowa was beautiful, lush green fields and bright blue skies dotted with clouds made for a lovely drive to Rick von Holdt’s farm.

Rick welcomed us with an energetic wave, but there was something odd — his thumb was wrapped in a neon green bandage! Apparently, while repairing an antique fan, he had sliced his thumb and just returned from the emergency room. The green thumb will be a detail that film watchers will surely wonder about, though Rick does have a “green thumb” in the most common sense of the phrase, as evidenced by the colorful, well-tended gardens surrounding his home.

Commit Random Acts of Gardening print by von Holdt

Rick giving us the shop tour, his Poco Proof Press in the foreground

Rick’s shop is in the basement of his beautiful 19th century farmhouse, featuring high ceilings and solid brick walls form rooms packed with type cabinets and book shelves. It’s common knowledge in the letterpress community that Rick has one of the most drool-worthy collections of wood type; he estimates around 2,000 fonts of handset type.

“I was educated in the world of graphic design that immigrated in real life into the production end of printing, so I didn’t have much of a chance to be creative. Along the way I traded a gumball machine for a few fonts of type and a little press,” explained Rick. “I have also been studying typefaces and type designs in that whole four decades and I’m pretty much the go to guy for people that need typefaces identified.”

His encyclopedic memory for not just the typeface name, but also the designer, manufacturer, and other details is renowned. Post a hand-set type ID inquiry to Briar Press and there’s a very good chance Rick will respond.

APA, Amalgamated Printers’ Association, bundle piece tacked to the shop wall

Considering himself “a fool with a proof press and a couple fonts of type,” the Foolproof Press has been going strong for 40 years, hand-inking bold and often pun-based posters with a brayer on his trusty Poco proof press.

Rick loves letterpress: “It’s terribly emotional and romantic. It has a smell, it has a sound, it has rhythm to those machines when they are going. Which I think is what draws people in it and just fascinates them to see the wheel spinning, and the pistons going back and forth, and paper going in, and coming out, and it’s just the kachunk, kachang, kachang and the whir of things.”

I grinned through his entire interview; his energetic gestures and enthusiasm are contagious.

.918 original t-shirt representing 0.918 inches, the height of printing type

He reflected, “People can do things digitally now and this and that, but it’s not quite the same. Again it all goes back to the physicality, the smell, the feel, it’s just neat stuff. I have come to the conclusion that people like myself are all just custodians at this point.”

Custodians of letterpress like Rick care about passing the equipment on to the next generation. “I want this to go to others someday,” he says, “and it’s my job just to grab what I can and save it from getting melted down, or scrapped and somehow get it to other people. I’m formulating a plan now where I would like to see my whole collection dispersed. There’s a saying, the fine printer begins where the careful printer left off.”

Rick is an all around great guy; he’s actively involved in the letterpress community and you can find his clever posters hanging in nearly every Midwestern letterpress shop you visit.

Posters for the Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum Wayzgoose 2014 and Pressing On Kickstarter

We had an entertaining, type-filled day of filming with Rick von Holdt and were still able to catch magic hour in rural Iowa.

PRINT MAGAZINE Feature Pressing On in Letterpress Journals

The Letterpress Journals: Funding and Friends - Journal Entry # 3

Original Source:

The Spring 2015 Kickstarter campaign for Pressing On: The Letterpress Film was an emotional rollercoaster. It was a challenging and fulfilling experience that connected me to people around the world who love the craft and printers who help it survive by sharing their knowledge. An email from a retired Linotype operator in Australia; social media posts by designers I admire; testimonials from Steven Heller and Tobias Frere-Jones, coverage on AIGA’s and Neenah’s blogs; I still look back and have to pinch myself!

Kickstarter Reward letterpress print by Gregory Walters

The generosity of time, knowledge, and goods that the letterpress community provided was incredible — just check out some of the Rewards. Every time we entered the ‘trough of sorrow’ and it seemed like we wouldn’t reach our goal, we’d receive a kind note of support or be offered yet another amazing Reward. The last week we skyrocketed beyond our goal reaching $71,748 with the help of 951 backers! After super Producer Kevin figured out the budget and the team made our pre-production plans, we were ready to start filming.

Honk Honk!

Still a bit dazed from the campaign but ready to hit the road, the first shoot was at the ChicaGoose where we got to celebrate the successful project funding at one of the largest annual gatherings of printers. Most of the characters in the film are members of the Amalgamated Printers’ Association. The APA was organized in 1958 and consists of both professional and amateur letterpress printers, whose emphasis is on the exchange of members’ letterpress printing and information on sources of equipment and better printing practices.

Each summer an APA gathering is held, this year metal type maven Jennifer Farrell of Starshaped Press planned and hosted the Wayzgoose. So what the heck is a wayzgoose? Historically a wayzgoose was a celebration given by a master printer to his workmen each year around St Bartholomew’s Day (Aug. 24) marking the start of the season of working by candlelight and later referred to an annual outing and dinner for the staff of a print shop or newspaper.


Paul Aken and fellow printers at the Platen Press Museum Open House, ChicaGoose

The APA Wayzgoose often includes an auction (the Daves were a most entertaining auctioneer duo), a flea market of printers’ treasures, tours of the host city or local print shops, and hands-on workshops. A major highlight is visiting with other kindred spirits who love letterpress. Jen Farrell introduced us to printing’s history and future in Chicago: a walking tour of Printers’ Row with Paul Gehl of the Newberry Library, shops tours and talks with current commercial letterpress printers, and a delicious Chicago hotdog buffet.

Printers’ Row walking tour led by Paul Gehl

We interviewed several influential community members who are facilitating the preservation and growth of letterpress. Stephanie Carpenter, Assistant Director of Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum, shared her views as a graphic designer, one of the primary audiences driving letterpress’ growth. She credits designers’ interest to the history and the hands-on process, “It’s not about how quickly you can print something anymore, especially when we’re talking about letterpress printing. It’s the beauty that goes into it. It’s the craft that goes into it. It’s the character that comes out of it. I think that’s why it’s got this revival.”

Stephanie Carpenter, Asst. Director of Hamilton Wood Type and Richard Kegler, P22 Type Foundry

Kseniya Thomas, co-founder of Ladies of Letterpress, explained her motivation for establishing a trade organization to help connect and support women becoming printers today, now 2,200 members strong. She explained the economics of using digitally designed photopolymer plates for her business, Thomas-Printers. Richard Kegler, P22 Type Foundry and director of the Wells College Book Arts Center, discussed the relationship between digital typesetting and physical letterpress processes; the ‘authenticity’ of the aesthetic; and digitizing historic typefaces to give them new life. You’ll get to hear more of Stephanie, Kseniya, and Rich’s thoughts on the future of letterpress in Pressing On.

With the cameras and microphones, I was concerned about disrupting the Goose but the crew was welcomed with inky handshakes and words of encouragement. We captured the interactions of the community; the multi-generational relationships that are a vital part of the culture. Our next trip takes us to the cornfields and print shops of Iowa.

APA members and all the attendees at the APA ChicaGoose 2015

PRINT MAGAZINE Features Pressing On in Letterpress Journals Part 2

The Letterpress Journals: Setting the Hook - Journal Entry # 2

Original Source:

Hey y’all. I’m Andrew P. Quinn, the co-director of Pressing On and a co-founder of Bayonet Media. One summer in high school armed with a RCA camcorder, a handful of action figures, one gallon of gasoline, and enough boredom, my best friend and I made Spacerats From Outer Space. After shooting a scene we’d run into the house and pop the tape into the VHS deck. It was magical to see our work on the television screen! I was hooked. By the end of the week we recruited a crew of neighborhood kids and hosted screenings in our parent’s living rooms. I spent the following decade trying to turn “make believe” into a living.

Making a feature film has been a lifetime goal but I thought it’d be years before the opportunity would arise. Others in the past had come to us about making feature docs but it never panned out. When Erin Beckloff came to Bayonet with the project, we all instantly knew this one had a chance. She belongs to the community and knew the audience — most importantly she had her shit together. With any professional endeavor, being able to get things done is essential.

At this point I knew little to nothing about letterpress. We’d done a short film about a print shop here in Indianapolis who was still using a Heidelberg Windmill. The machine was fascinating, but I didn’t really understand what it did or what letterpress was. Erin started educating us on the subject and introduced us to “The Daves” (Peat and Churchman). The fascination was setting in.

For the Kickstarter campaign video, I wanted to show the potential audience what the feature film was going to look and feel like, build their trust, and set a hook with the story.

To make a film there are two things I’m looking for: a story and an opportunity to show the audience something they’ve never seen before. When you walk into Dave Churchman’s basement it’s easy to be overwhelmed. Every nook and cranny has been stuffed with things from his collection. There are cans of ink balanced on top of the light fixtures. Stacks of paper teetering on type cabinets. As you talk to Dave, the conversation will lead to some artifact. He’ll soon shuffle through the narrow aisles to retrieve the item buried under his various open projects. As the observer I was amazed that he could find anything in this mess. Now I was connecting the dots: is this a story of people’s passion for something that keeps accumulating? I thought, if anyone else we encounter is half as interesting as Churchman we’d have no problem with the story. The next day we met Dave Peat, his collection is twice the size of Churchman’s plus the guy has a freaking train locomotive!

Next, the Bayonet boys and I got a crash course on letterpress printing. Churchman’s press is a Pearl from the 1800s and still works perfectly without the aid of electricity.

He grabbed a little knife attached to an HVAC vent with a magnet and began to carefully smear ink on this big plate mounted to the machine. He proceeded to pump a foot peddle which turned a cog that turned levers that turn other cogs that spread the ink. It was like something from a Steampunk fantasy. Eventually this cast iron contraption spit out a piece of art. HOLY SMOKES! We were obviously going to have plenty of visuals to illustrate this story.

After spending a couple of days shooting in Churchman’s basement we had the backbone for our Kickstarter video. Skipping past the tedious details of editing, here’s the finished campaign video (the second half is Erin’s letterpress shop, she has several more presses along with her first Kelsey now):

PRINT MAGAZINE Features Pressing On in Letterpress Journals

The Letterpress Journals: Guardians of the Craft - Journal Entry # 1

Original Source:

Hello! I’m Erin Beckloff, letterpress printer and graphic design educator. My time as a printer has been about as long as a typical apprenticeship, six years, but I’ve taken on more than the usual sweeping the shop and distributing type: I am now the co-director of Pressing On: The Letterpress FilmI will be sharing with you the story of creating a feature-length documentary about the survival of letterpress and the remarkable printers who preserve the history and knowledge of the craft.

For me it all started with a unique wedding gift: a small tabletop Kelsey printing press. To begin learning how to use it, I sought out the knowledge of more experienced printers and interned at Hatch Show Print in Nashville, TN. With a desire to bring new life to equipment long left idle, I returned to my alma mater Miami University in Oxford, Ohio and revitalized the Department of Art’s letterpress program. We named the shop Curmudgeon Press (after professor emeritus Tom Effler) and each semester as more students experienced the wonder of the letterpressprocess, my love of teaching grew.

Becoming a part of the letterpress community was like joining a huge family, except at our dinner tables we’d pass around wood type and tell letterpress jokes. As I joined organizations including the Amalgamated Printers’ Association (APA) and Ladies of Letterpress, and attended events such as the Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum Wayzgoose, my network of letterpress friends broadened. I knew that I needed to preserve the stories and knowledge of these guardians of the craft and began collecting oral histories with my little audio recorder. One particularly dear friend, Dave Peat, has impacted innumerable printers’ lives during his 53 years in letterpress. A scare with his health added a sense of urgency to my preservation project.

Wanting to expand my own knowledge as a design educator, I enrolled in the Vermont College of Fine Arts’ MFA in Graphic Design low-residency program. VCFA’s independent study model allowed me to focus on my own area of interest, values, and goals: letterpress printing and design history. Encouraged by classmates and faculty, I left after my week-long residency in Montpelier certain that I needed to visually document the people and craft of letterpress; while also feeling anxious about how I was going to make it happen.

Besides my brief stint in television broadcasting class in high school and a bit of iMovie, I knew very little about media or filmmaking and realized that in taking on a project of this caliber I would need experienced collaborators. Several connections led me to Bayonet Media in Indianapolis. We met in the late Fall of 2014 and I knew they were the right partners; their high quality portfolio of work and holistic approach were immediately evident. Plus Dave Peat lives in Indy, which was a huge bonus!

Making a film had not been a goal of mine, but was the ideal way to bring the project to life in addition to being an exciting and somewhat surreal experience. But before we could make a movie, we had to fund the project and decided to do so through Kickstarter.

Stay tuned for another edition of The Letterpress Journals next week!

Cincinnati NPR WVXU Features Pressing On

Letterpress Printing Is Making A Comeback In Our Digital Age

Original Story:
WVXU - NPR - 91.7 FM - Cincinnati - Ohio

Letterpress printing, which uses moveable type, was the everyday printing technique for centuries. And although it is time-consuming and labor-intensive, especially compared to digital print technologies, it is not only still in use today, it’'s making a comeback. “Pressing On, The Letterpress Film will be a feature-length documentary that explores letterpress printing, and who and what has kept it alive.

Joining us to discuss the film, which is starting production, and the art and craft of letterpress, are Pressing On Producer and Co-Director Erin Beckloff, a visiting instructor in graphic design at Miami University’'s College of Creative ArtsAndrew Quinn, co-director; Producer Kevin Grazioli with Bayonet Media; and Dave Churchman, a hobby printer and collector.

Listen to the conversation below:



Hello Again and Request a Screening!

We hope you haven't forgotten about us during our hiatus from Kickstarter! Our silence wasn't out of laziness (we've never met a printer who was lazy!) but rather busyness. Since we last spoke to you our crew spent six weeks on the road conducting amazing interviews across the Midwest. Principal photography is nearly wrapped but we will have a few more shoots over the Winter.

The Summer was somewhat surreal, getting to 'hang out' in so many shops with inspiring letterpress printers. We got to experience moments of extreme happiness —especially when goose-bump inducing interview responses reminded us why we are creating this film. There were also moments of total exhaustion, spending 16 hour days filming in the heat of Summer getting shot after shot, hauling lights and equipment, but it's all worth it. Here are some behind-the-scenes pictures: 

 We are immensely proud to be able to preserve and share letterpress, thank you for helping us make this happen.  We also want to thank our interviewees for their patience, enthusiasm, generosity, and for letting us into their shops and lives!

We are immensely proud to be able to preserve and share letterpress, thank you for helping us make this happen. We also want to thank our interviewees for their patience, enthusiasm, generosity, and for letting us into their shops and lives!

PRINT Magazine Online: The Letterpress Journals

  Erin and Andrew planning interview questions at Hatch Show Print

Erin and Andrew planning interview questions at Hatch Show Print

In support of the project, PRINT magazine invited us to keep a journal about the making of the film; co-directors Andrew Quinn and Erin Beckloff have been chronicling their personal experiences of creating this documentary. If you'd like to read a more in-depth description of what we've been up to and see some behind-the-scenes photos, check out the journal on PRINT's site (links below). The series will be on-going until the film's release.

So Much Content, So Little Time!

Our Fall has been spent in post-production going through over one hundred pages of transcribed interviews. It has been a lot of reading, editing, and staring at Google Drive — not the most glamorous part of making a movie, but a necessary step in organizing our vast amount of important content that will transform into the feature length film. We're also excited to announce that we are planning on a few making shorts, special features, and more from our content. 

After reviewing transcripts from 15+ interviews, we're creating the first draft of the film's "script" or story. Debates of theme, content, and direction naturally ensue. Then rough edits of the themes are cut together and the video is reviewed. There is much work to do.

Celebrating the Craftsmen

In October, Kevin Grazioli (producer) and Joe Vella (director of photography) had the opportunity to travel to Richmond, VA to talk about the film at the 2016 Celebrating the Craftsmen event in front of a live audience. Taking to the stage they spoke broadly about letterpress as a craft, gave a behind the scenes look at the film, and even introduced the audience to Jim Daggs (see clip below)! We'd like to thank Worth Higgins and Associates who invited Pressing On to present and who hosted the event. 

Request a Film Screening!

We want to share letterpress and the film with as many people as possible. Think Pressing On would look good on the big screen in your town? Want to bring the filmmakers to show the film and speak at your venue or organization? Let us know!

Please fill out the Screening Request Form on our website and we'll get in touch soon! We are currently planning on a late Spring 2016/Early Summer 2016 film release.

As always thank you for your patience and support, we will do our best to send monthly updates, but be sure to also keep up on our social media (TwitterInstagram, & Facebook).

Warm regards, The Pressing On Team

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