The Los Angeles Printing Fair

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los angeles printing fair

I recently travelled to the USA and as fate would have it, I was fortunate enough to be in Los Angeles for the annual printers fair at the International Printing Museum.

To quote a few bullet points from the Print Museums website, the printing fair includes the following:

  • Letterpress “Swap Meet:” Don’t miss your chance to buy antique letterpress equipment and everything you need for your own print shop. Type-lovers, graphic designers, artists, printers and members of the public are welcome to ogle over hundreds of cases of type and thousands of pounds of equipment and presses.
  • General Gallery Tours – experience 500 years of printing history as our knowledgeable docents guide you through our collection. Letterpress demonstrations on various presses will be on-going throughout the day.
  • Type casting and Printing demonstrations on the Museum’s collection of presses will be conducted throughout the day.
  • “The 40’s Shop” – Travel back in time to experience a 40’s era working print shop. See Windmills, Ludlows, Linotypes, platen presses, proofing presses, a Miehle Vertical and our vast collection of wood and lead type. See slugs cast on our working Linotype operated by Luis Garcia.
  • Purchase beautiful letterpress-printed pieces, artist books, gorgeous handmade and commercial paper/envelopes and more from over 50 Vendors.
  • A giant Show & Tell wall! Post your prints, posters, design samples, business cards, typography and more.

In no particular order, here are some photos from this years fair.

classing printing press
hand ink rollers
hand ink rollers
learn print play

Hand ink rollers and press. (Above 3 photos.)

hand lithography stone and plate
hand lithography stone and plate
hand lithography stone and plate
hand lithography stone and plate

Hand lithography on stone and plate. (Above 4 photos.)

hand printing press
hot type
linotype
old printing press
original heidelberg cylinder
original heidelberg press

Need a Heidelberg windmill? Pick one up here…

plate ink rollers
poster printing
printing plates
printing plates
printing rollers
printing type slugs
screen printing
screen printing

$10 for a quality t-shirt, your choice of screen printing for free.

type slugs
printing press
typesetting
ink rollers
wooden printing press
wooden printing press
split fountain ink rollers

My favourite, split fountain printing. Here I am concentrating furiously on not mucking it up…

split fountain ink rollers
split fountain ink rollers
split fountain ink rollers

Another fan of split fountain printing. Never a moment when this was unoccupied, obviously a favourite for others too.

More information on future fairs can be found on the Printing Museums website. If you get the chance, I highly recommend visiting a future fair.


8 thoughtful comments on “The Los Angeles Printing Fair”

  1. RocketGunner says:

    Great stuff. I can smell the ink from here ;)

  2. Looks like you had a great time there, Andrew. I’ve used a letterpress before in College, but never again since…

  3. Andrew Keir says:

    It really was great.

    Similar to you, I’ve done work experience at various printers years ago, but because they were operating business and not schools, they were primarily look but don’t touch kind of days.

    Being able to use half a dozen different presses at the printing fair was great. You got to keep everything you printed too, so I made out with a few good souvenirs.

    I’ve definitely got to get a few clients who want split fountain printing, doing more of that will be great.

  4. JeanetMarie Smith says:

    It’s interesting how far printing and mass printing has come.

  5. Andrew Keir says:

    I think it’s a shame in some ways too, JeanetMarie.

    While a modern 10 or 12 colour Heidelberg print off 12,000 sheets and hour is certainly a technical marvel, it just have that same “something” that you get when manually putting through sheets on letterpress.

    As they say, “They don’t make ‘em like they used to”.

  6. Steve Dockal says:

    I worked on the side while freelancing, running a letter and 2-color press for a print shop. It was really neat to see all those machines. Thank you for sharing the photos from you trip!

  7. Anita Kurzyna says:

    It looks amazing!

  8. Elizabeth Johnston says:

    When I first worked at CU-Boulder as art director, our in-house printing dept. had a Linotype press (and a gifted old man operating it) for small jobs. When he retired we tried to sell it (1990), and there were no takers. We couldn’t give it away. It was thrown out.

    Who knew then there would be a comeback with letterpress, bookmaking, and hot lead slugs (letter forms)? I still have a slug with an “E” on it. How sad that no one then knew it’s long-term value.

    For beautiful typographic solutions, digital and offset printing are not always the solution. It’s refreshing to work with and see the outcomes of old technology.


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