Our Cover: The ancient art of printing
Chris Fritton used old-school printing techniques to create the October 2013 cover of Buffalo Spree.
Christa Glennie Seychew
The cover for this month’s issue of Buffalo Spree was letterpressed at the Western New York Book Arts Center (WNYBAC), a local non-profit dedicated to the art of the book. WNYBAC’s mission is to promote greater understanding of printing and book-related arts through education, creation, and exhibition for a broad and diverse community. The letterpress process is centuries old, and involves arranging individual pieces of movable type into a form that is then inked and printed. A three-color print like Spree’s cover requires three different forms, all arranged and printed at different times, to create the final image. The wood type, metal type, and printers’ ornaments that are used on the cover range in age from fifty to 150 years.
WNYBAC strives to create a conversation between digital and analog technologies, and reminds its students and members that the two are not mutually exclusive. A community-based model is a key component of what WNYBAC espouses; making art together brings people together, and builds stronger communities. It’s a unique model whose major mode of outreach is its cultural production: the staff and members create gig posters, art prints, and greeting cards that are sold online and throughout the region.
2013 was a time of transition for our young non-profit; funding was difficult to come by in the nascent stages of the project when it was needed most, but now, with five years under our belt, we hope to expand educational programming and continue building our earned income by creating more progressive, edgy, hand-crafted designs.
Chris Fritton is studio director at Western New York Book Arts Center.