Desktop Publishing, 19th Century Style

by . July 12th, 2014

Letterpress artist Kayleigh Phillips does desktop publishing in a vintage way.

Aside from decorating her humble abode with vintage furniture, Phillips also likes making her designs look like they time-traveled from the 1940s or 1950s.


The 24-year old letterpress artist uses old printing presses, antique metal type and hand-carved blocks to create her posters and print designs. Most of her work is inspired by old cartoons like Felix the Cat and Robert Crumb, an American cartoonist famous for the Zap Comics (1968) and characters like Fritz the Cat and Mr. Natural.


All of her designs are handmade. She starts by sketching the design on a piece of graph paper then transfers them to a linoleum block using carbon paper. She cuts the design into the linoleum using carving tools and Xacto knives to remove everything that should not appear in the final design.

“It’s always really fun to spend hours carving a block and then you start inking it and see what it looks like,” she said. “It’s a gamble.” 


Although there are more ways (computer software) to create posters these days, Phillips said that she loves the hands-on process of letterpress printing: carving the blocks, inking with a brayer, setting the design in the machine, and pulling the roller to create an impression.

“It’s an obsession. I’ll stay up all hours of the night,” she said. “There’s no middle man between the designer and the person who makes the final product.”


Her fascination for letterpress printing started while studying Graphic Design at Concord University. A broken printing press that used to print the campus newspaper was found by one of her professors and she had her dad fix it. The college then let her take the machine home after she graduated.


At the moment, Phillips owns a motorized 1899 model Chandler & Price press and she is setting up a website where she would exhibit her work.



Visit her Instagram account to see some of her letterpress work.

{ via Charleston Daily Mail }