Letterpress Culture: Engendering Sustainability

The culmination of our research was the creation of an insight-driven opportunity map that illustrates how the letterpress community might create sustainable best practices for press training and ownership that encourages preservation of the craft. The opportunities included:

1. The formalization of an apprenticeship, or licensing, program

2. Toolkits and workshops for business planning

3. Space planning guides for optimizing productivity

4. “Open Press” programs that create relationships within the local community

5. A public awareness campaign that educates people about the art and craft of letterpress printing

Download the Opportunity Map here.

Week 9: Final Models (J)

Based on feedback from Professor Siniscarco and fellow design management students, I have revised my models. In general, these models were simplified to reflect universal letterpress culture vs. specific reference to Igloo in Worthington. I’ve also color-coded each model consistently to represent roles of an apprentice, journeyman and master type functionality.

The most visible change is a move to a radial diagram to illustrate how there is a steep initial learning curve for letterpress skills when learning to set up print jobs. The revised models are here.


Week 8: Affinity Mapping and Insight Report (J)

This week my time at Igloo was very limited. I stopped in one day to take some additional photos of the space to support of the research and for reference purposes. I also brought my daughter along so she could redeem her coupon for a letterpress bookmark—a reward for participating in the Worthington Library’s summer reading program (below). The giraffe bookmark is one of Allison’s favorites and she mentioned that she has been printing that plate since she was a kid. Talk about a passion for letterpress.

Allison was printing 3D posters (below) and she let my daughter turn the handle on Vandy #4 to make a print. Pretty great to watch your 6 year-old letterpress for the first time.

IMAG1322    IMAG1192

Affinitization and insights were the focus of our team’s research this week. After three rounds of affinitization patterns began to emerge from the data that support the following insights:

1. Letterpress has an apprenticeship-like model
2. There is a need to balance systems ad creativity
3. Letterpress print shops are very self-reliant
4. There is a need for flexible work space
5. Owning a plate maker is a significant advantage
6. Network and community are essential to letterpress shops

This is the resulting Affinity Diagram that supports the insights above.


These insights, informed by research and affinitization of the data, support opportunities, “how we might. . .” statements and potential design ideas and scenarios in the Insight Report attached here .


Week 8: Affinity Mapping and Insights Report (Amber)

This week we faced the task of grouping our data using an affinity map and then mining insights.

I began by transcribing my notes onto Post-It Notes using a color-coding system:

> Pink indicated a direct quote form or personal fact about Casey McGarr

> Teal indicated information regarding influencers, networks and diffusion of information throughout the letterpress community

> Yellow indicated information about letterpress equipment and processes

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After transcription, I began to group like ideas together. As I grouped them, I also tried to place them on the affinity map in proximity to other related concepts—creating a pseudo Venn diagram that connected ideas that shared commonalities or impacted another concept. Finally, I labeled the conceptual groups in order to create a conceptual map for organizing insights.

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You can read my Insights Report below. I submitted seven insights:

  1. Letterpress is labor-intensive
  2. Much of the available equipment is unused
  3. Starting a letterpress studio is expensive
  4. Leaving a legacy is a key concern for owners
  5. Peer communities are not bound by geography
  6. Educated clients make the best clients
  7. Artisan owners preserve the craft

Benson Insights Report: abenson_projectpart6