Printing Processes: Letterpress Printing

This week in our series about printing processes we are going to talk about letterpress printing, one of my personal favorites! 

Above: Oh So Beautiful Paper


Letterpress is a type of relief printing which uses a printing press and plates to create an impression on paper. Introduced by Gutenberg in the 15th century, letterpress printing was once the predominant method until replaced by offset printing and finally digital printing in the 20th century. Letterpress is now a treasured artisan craft by many and a go-to method for wedding invitations because of its elegant quality.

Above Left: Bella Figure – Above Right: Pinterest


For most modern letterpress invites, the process usually begins with the design created digitally in Adobe Illustrator. The finished design is then made into a photopolymer printing plate. Next, ink is mixed to match the desired Pantone color and paper is cut to the desired size. Finally, after the press is inked up and paper and plate are placed in their appropriate spots, you run the press and it creates an inked impression! For multiple colors the paper will need to go through the process again with a new ink color.

Above Left: Flickr – Above Right: Style Me Pretty


-Letterpress has the ability to create bold crisp images with high quality ink.

-The hand-made quality of letterpress creates a sense of intimacy and craftsmanship.

-Due to the multi-step process and custom plates, letterpress can be expensive.

-Multiple colors with letterpress is far more time consuming than in other processes since each color requires another run through the press.

 Happy printing!