• Steven Heller

Linotype: The Eighth Wonder of The World

In the current Print I interviewed Wilson about his passion for Linotype.

Douglas Wilson [29] is a graphic designer and letterpress printer by trade, and Linotype: The Film, a documentary on the amazing Linotype machine, is his first film. He launched head-long into the project with two friends. They have worked on it for more than a year and a half, researching and traveling from tiny towns in rural Iowa to the official print shop of the United States government. He traveled to the modern headquarters of Linotype in Germany and a Linotype museum outside of Basel, Switzerland, and created a film that documents in words and pictures Ottmar Mergenthaler’s weird contraption, whose importance is next to Gutenberg’s press in shaping the way typography—and therefore words, messages, and ideas—is presented to the public. Now that is power!

Why a film on Linotype? Had there been any previous connection to printing or typesetting?

I taught myself letterpress printing as part of my BFA senior thesis project. During that time, I visited a local letterpress trade shop and encountered my first Linotype. I was instantly hooked.

The more I researched about the Linotype, the more I realized that there was very little information out there. For such a common machine that once was in every city in the world, very little was written or recorded about the Linotype. It was as if everyone became so wrapped up in the newer typesetting technologies, that they didn’t have time to think about what they were tossing out the back door.

For more screenings and to view the trailer go here. For a more recent trailer go here.

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