Ask any letterpress lover why they favor the old-school printing method, and they’ll likely tell you it’s less about the look and more about the feel. But that tactile impression was actually considered terrible printing in the past. Traditionally, letterpress aimed to print without showing any relief—a principle that has been conveniently forgotten amidst the contemporary revival of this centuries-old craft.
This is just one of the misconceptions traditional letterpress studio TypesettingSG was set up to address. In 2014, after learning how many newly established letterpresses in Singapore were unaware of the history and were giving a new generation of printers an incomplete introduction, designer Yao Yu Sun quit his design job and started his own studio in order to provide a more thorough education.
What would a building have to say on the subject of love? For five years, this unusual question has brought together poets and graphic designers to give a voice to The Substation, an independent arts center housed inside an old power station in Singapore. Each month“The Substation Love Letters Project” has issued a free postcard featuring the commissioned poem and accompanying graphic interpretations, to talk about what love means—from the point of view of the Substation itself.
This idea was dreamt up in 2010 by then newly appointed artistic director, Noor Effendy Ibrahim, as an affordable means for the center to address the public. Instead of producing a marketing flyer, The Substation’s team (namely Annabelle Aw, and later, Chris Ong) worked with local poet Cyril Wong to curate a thematic series of love letters. Each year, the center seeks out 12 Singaporean poets to muse on love in a variety of languages, and then invites a graphic designer to visually interpret them.