VCD students design the old-fashioned way in ‘type high press’ class

Julia Kerchenski

On the first floor of the Art Building, Type High Press students immerse themselves in carefully organizing letters and symbols to make designs the old-fashioned way, with a letterpress. 

Kent State has eight letterpresses in the Art Building, the oldest from the 1890s. It is Ohio’s largest letterpress facility, according to Bob Kelemen, a Visual Communication Design faculty member. He said designs made in the letterpresses have a unique aesthetic that attracts students.

Nothing in the class is digitally made, which challenges students to create work that is sometimes imperfect. 

“You have to have a lot of patience, but Bob’s enthusiasm makes it really fun,” said Kate Lingenfelter, a senior VCD major. “Every VCD student should try to take it.”

This class offers VCD students the chance to step away from technology.

“It’s a way of unplugging. The computer is not here so you can’t get distracted by social media or that other project you should be doing. People are desperate to do something by hand,” said Kelemen.

The class is not easy. It is different than digital design. Students are limited by the letters and symbols that are provided. It requires patience and creativity, but Lingenfelter said the outcomes are worth the effort.

“It all comes down to how we interact with typography and how we make aesthetic choices about our designs,” said Valora Renicker, a VCD professor.

Alumni are invited back to use the letterpresses during homecoming weekend.

Contact Julia at [email protected].