The Daily Heller: The Music of Letterpress

Posted inThe Daily Heller
Thumbnail for The Daily Heller: The Music of Letterpress

This is what happens when music, design and letterpress printing commingle: Savage Impressions: An Aesthetic Expedition Through the Archives of Independent Project Records & Press (P22 Publications and Independent Project Records press) as bridged technological eras to produce an unparalleled body of work. Richard Kegler, proprietor of P22 and publisher, calls the book “the first extensive monograph devoted to … one of the most influential letterpress studios active today.”

Licher is a musician, artist and designer who founded Independent Project Press after learning the art of letterpress printing at the Women’s Graphic Center in downtown Los Angeles in 1982. His initial projects took the form of album covers, postcards and promotional stamps for his band, Savage Republic. Licher was among the first to print on chipboard for music package design.

“But it is his virtuosity in hand-composing vintage metal types and his restrained palette that elevates this work above its professed purpose,” says Kegler. In addition to packaging and releasing music on Independent Project Records, and creating work for his other music-related clients, Independent Project Press also produces elegant and creative business stationery, invitations, wine labels, promotional stamp sheets and booklets, and numerous other pieces of letterpress-printed ephemera for clients large and small. Licher was nominated twice for a Grammy Award for his album packaging.

P22 Type Foundry and P22 Analog began crowdfunding the book via Kickstarter, with the intent to produce the limited-edition, handmade work of Independent Project Press in over 150 pages of full color, from mechanical process work (for clients such as REM, Stereolab and Camper Van Beethoven) to finished works of art with insights into the creative process along the way. The text will include exhibit catalog essays as well as material from Emigre magazine that featured Independent Project Press.

Co-designed by Licher and P22’s James Grieshaber, the book is a generous 12” x 12” hardcover that covers a diverse range of art and includes a 10” vinyl record. With the current explosion of interest in letterpress printing, many are looking to see how new work can be influenced by the past. Licher’s Independent Project Press has culled from the past while simultaneously turning it on its head with a distinct visual vocabulary that continues to influence current aesthetics. This book stands as a major documentation of one of the most influential letterpress studios currently in existence.

RELATED POSTSThe Daily Heller: Arnold Shaw, Midcentury ModernistThe Daily Heller: Enough With the Microbes Already!The Daily Heller: Mind Over Blather,* Language-WiseThe Weekend Daily Heller: Product MisplacementThe Daily Heller: A Postage Stamp for Jason Polan

About Steven Heller

Steven Heller is the co-chair of the SVA MFA Design / Designer as Entrepreneur program, and writes frequently for EYE and Design Observer. He is also the author of over 190 books on design and visual culture. He received the 1999 AIGA Medal, is in the Art Directors Hall of Fame and is the 2011 recipient of the Smithsonian National Design Award.View all posts by Steven Heller →