- I have been working for 30years.
- After that i joint a press called Rangadhama Press, then Magaji Press and Apsara Printers was the last place I worked.
- Then I got my own place and started a printing press. At that time there was nothing other than letterpress printing.
- The machines I purchased in Bangalore itself. These machines were available in Amritsar, Chennai and Mumbai... they were available everywhere. But this was the case back then. Now the number of machines has completely reduced.
- Because I enjoy doing letterpress and feel the urge to continue doing it, I have learnt how to do the maintenance myself for the machines.
- I can do Composing, Printing and Binding. I learnt all these three.
- Bill books, letter-pads, visiting cards, these are the kind of jobs that came to me.
- Clients came with their own ideas but we would also show them work or suggest how a job can be done.
I learnt english once I had learnt how to composing; I learnt the work bit first and then the english.
You can't compose English without knowing it and you can't compose Kannada without knowing it. If you don't know the alphabets you cannot compose.
First we would hand proof. There is a machine which has a roller, add ink to it and you can get a proof. You have to set the type completely to get just the test print as well.
There are many fonts and many point sizes, 6pt, 8 pt. You also get roman, italic etc. from 6pt up to 48pt.
There is Gill Sans, Rockwell Bold, Universe Bold. You had to know the type by its name. Each font has about 20 to 25 varieties.
Now a days it's not possible to keep so many “varieties” because you need space for the cases. Whatever I have now remaining, I keep that as there is space for it.
Letterpress is all largely the same (in terms of language). However in Kannada letterpress there are more sections in a case as there are more characters compared to English. There is a large difference between Kannada and English cases. The number of compartments in the Kannada case make it much more complicated. You have in it separate letters for “cha”, “chaa”, “chi”, “chee” etc.
It takes about one hour to fully compose and set a business card. And the cards can be printed by the end of the evening. All in all proofing done by afternoon and the job is completed by evening, all in a day.
A bill book take anywhere between 2 to 4 hours to be set.
I have made very few texts book, I largely work with “job work” (which bill books, letterheads, draft books, DD book, visiting cards etc.)
People still get bill books done in letterpress because of it's quality. Now a days there is single colour offset printing. In it one colour doesn't end up sitting right next to the other colour (registration is an issue). Where as in letterpress it is possible to get excellent accuracy (based on the printer's skill).
Pie to pie printing, for eg. If there is a monogram, it needs to “sit” properly. If while printing there is a slight shit the monogram gets distorted and the layers can 'cross'. In offset printing you use water and sometimes the colour seeps into the paper or it doesn't print correctly over the next colour.
Earlier it was as if the printing quality of the letterpress was the best. But now with 4 colour offset printing, people think this is the new standard for colours.
Letterpress printing is done by men. There are very few women who do it. Earlier there were a few, but even that was just about 5%.
Offset is cheaper than letterpress printing. On an offset printing machine you can print about 4000 to 5000 copies, where as in letterpress you can only print about 1000 to 1500 copies. And for letterpress printing, some one is needed to physically be there to print these multiple copies.
Letterpress machines cannot be converted into offset printing machine. However it can be converted into an embossing/foiling machine.
I do manual binding as a part of my business. Stitching, one plus one copy with numbering that is in a bill book, I bind those.
There are two numbering machines. One is the hand numbering machine (manual) and there is a machine that you can adjust into the letterpress machine for numbering. The machine that you put into the letterpress works backwards in terms of numbering. If you had to number from 1 to 1000, while printing the machine will go 1000, 999, 998 and so on. This machine is Japanese and only works once you put into the letterpress machine. It is called Leibinger numbering machine.
Till I can walk, I will continue doing letterpress printing, that's what I think.
There can be alot of difference in the quality of letterpress printing, depending on the skill of the printer. Based on this people often used to select whom to go to for specific kind of jobs.
Letterpress printing inks are available in Bangalore
The inks used for letterpress printing are different from those used for screen printing.
When I just started working at a letterpress studio, I was first made to do (manual) hand numbering. I used to stamp ticket books. Then I learned how to do binding. I then started looking at the case and where the alphabets are placed. I memorized the position of each of the letters in the case. I got trained to remember the positions of all the letters and punctuation in the case, after which I started making words on the composing stick. While learning how to create words I was also introduced to the point system. It is really important to understand the point system.
Friday, July 23, 2010
Mr.D.H. Shankar of Archana Printers
Excerpts from the interview: