Power can be found in the stillest of things. Something seemingly subtle can propel itself to the forefront of our conversations. Forming sentences that somersault off our tongues and enter into the spaces that we create with others. Regardless of the course they take, it is an undeniable truth that words have the power to move. We encounter and interact with words every day but we rarely focus on the ability that words have to take their own shape and act as an artistic tool. Luckily, Tony Zanni, the owner of Type High Letterpress has spent dedicated time exploring this phenomenon.
Type High Letterpress is located on 1115 E. Main Street Suite 252 in Downtown Rochester. This quirky storefront possesses all the looks and allure that one would want from a letterpress shop. With seven hundred and fifty-six drawers of differing type, Zanni’s impressive collection has taken him roughly ten years to gather. The store’s grandeur is enhanced by various authentic printing presses and manual machinery, some dating back to the late nineteenth-century.
In an era of technological innovations, the origin story of Type High Letterpress is refreshing. At around the age of twenty-one, Zanni walked into a basement workshop belonging to the neighbor of his cousin and entered into a letterpress haven. This cozy workshop was filled with type, fonts, and all the works, and this new world left an impression on him. After his introduction to the art of letterpress, Zanni came back to the workshop with the intention of making a poster of his own. He has been hooked ever since.
Type High Letterpress offers a variety of services including a start to finish process with step by step instructions for those who are curious about this unique art form. They also pay special attention to extra additions such as belly bands, favor tags, and other add ons to give each product a personal touch. Your vision can come to life on invitations, greeting and specialty cards, business cards, and a wide array of personalized posters. Whether you’re in a band or a stage production, the services at Type High Letterpress will have you covered for your printing needs. Looking for an extra statement for event promotion? They also do foil stamping, blind debossing, embossing, and dye cutting. Type High proves that paper can be used for a lot more than office work and paper airplanes.
Before Zanni focused on analog design techniques, he did most of his work on his laptop. While paper is a versatile and unique medium, there are some commonalities between the computer and physical printing. When describing the transition between the two, he shared that, “design is design. Whether you are doing it on a computer or physically picking “type” out of a drawer and putting it into a composing stick.” However, new factors come into play, all of which add to the excitement and charm of the craft. With letterpress, “several interesting things happen when you go into the physical realm of moveable type.” For example, running out of letters. Though inconvenient, it’s part of the creative puzzle that this art form demands. Whether that means finding similar typefaces or having to take the project in a whole new direction, in letterpress there is a relationship between the art and the artist that inspires improvisational creation.
Letterpress is defined by its authenticity, as Zanni explains that “it’s those little imperfections that draw people to letterpress.” There is something that speaks to us when you see the human element embedded within the work. When hearing stories of one hundred-year-old type being removed from a drawer, ones that have been dropped and cracked, a real-life quality is added which enhances the consumer’s connection to the product.
Type High Letterpress holds multiple events such as First Fridays and two workshops. There is the “Introduction to LetterPress,” which takes you through the most traditional and fundamental steps of the process. At the end, you are able to print your very own small edition. The other class is the “Poster Workshop,” which is a little bit more involved.
Type High Letterpress is ready to put in the time and quality for all of your design and promotional needs. For Zanni, it’s about the interaction between the product and his customers. He constantly keeps them in mind, and emphasizes that it is about “making something memorable for them as well as everyone who receives it.”