TYPEFACE: Great characters, both wooden and human.

by lydiasee

Friday night with two fabulous ladies: to the MFA to see Typeface. I originally had high hopes for this film as the burgeoning DIY letterpress and printmaking fad has even spread to Apple, but I felt short of a good story and a few “in jokes” this film missed a lot of pulp.

The story begins at and surrounds the Hamilton Wood Type and Printing Museum. Through the daily organizing, archiving, and operations at the Factory/Museum to Board Meetings to the artists and individuals who have been inspired by this incredible space, Justine Nagan follows the unifying idea that the preservation of this space, this formerly practical now artisanal craft, and the history therein needs to be preserved.

A few side-stories include a Stacey Stern, letterpress teacher/shop operator in Chicago (Steracle Press), a small collective of twentysomething Design Boys who opened up a studio with a c&P in pretty bad shape (post family), Dennis Ichiyama, a prefossor at Purdue and Letterpress artist, among others.

I think from a technical standpoint, there was a lot of information missing from the film. I also found many of the interviews to be rather bland… and I don’t think that was the fault of the subjects. I think the direction team could have done a better job coaxing more information out of their interviewees. That said, most of the interviews conducted around Twin Rivers were golden, the scene at the Board Meeting, for instance, was stellar. The new Artistic Director, Bill Moran, and his brother Jim Moran, printer and Archivist, are hard at work making sure the Museum has a long, healthy life ahead of it. In fact, I came across this response by Bill to a blogger :

“Greetings, my brother Jim and I who are now running the museum are happy to report that our days are not numbered. If fact we’re hosting hundreds of visitors, cutting new type and printing our fool heads off. Check out woodtype.org and our Facebook site to see the workshops and conferences we’ve been running. We love Kartemquin’s movie Typeface and we’re happy to report that their movie has been a great motivator for friends of the museum near and far. If you’re in the midwest soon, pay us a visit, if you’re not, buy one of our posters. It’ll make you happy.”

All in all, I’m overjoyed that this place is still producing type and printing. I think that the more people see the film, the more awareness about the ANALOG forms of typography, which means better financial support for places like Hamilton.

Here are some awesome letterpressed posters commemorating the release of TYPEFACE:

(there are more prints and things available at the HAMILTON SHOP)

Printed by Dennis Ichiyama

Printed by The Post Family