The Making of the 11/4/08 Poster

Today, we're proud to reveal the official 11/4/08 posters, designed by Felipe Lima. Below, Felipe shares a few thoughts about making these posters, as well as some photos from the printing.

To create the 11/4/08 posters, we employed a process called Letterpress printing. Similar in concept to woodblock printing, Letterpress involves reusable, raised surface wood or metal type, which is set by hand, inked, and pressed into paper. Though Johannes Gutenberg's commonly credited with the invention of this method of printing in 1440, it's been found to have been developed separately in Asia before then.

Our posters were printed by the Colby Poster Printing Company in Los Angeles. Family owned and operated since 1946, Colby is one of the few remaining print shops in Southern California to offer Letterpress and they boast one of the most expansive collections of alphabets and custom engravings west of the Mississippi. Because Letterpress involves arranging pre-existing type, in skilled hands it's a cost-effective alternative to silkscreen or offset systems. If the message can be conveyed in text, without custom images, Letterpress offers large, crisp type on colorful and thick stocks, without the expenses associated with creating new screens or plates. Political candidates, concert promoters, and county fairs have long made use of this technique and it seemed perfect for our purposes.

As skilled typesetters have disappeared and the costs of newer technologies have dropped, Letterpress has become less prevalent, but Colby has proven they have the expertise and typefaces to offer affordable prices to plumbers, parishioners, and local businesses. In the last two decades, there's been renewed interest in 'craft' letterpress printing for wedding invitations, business cards, stationary, and art books -- Colby does not frequent these precious realms. Most of their client comps are sharpie on scrap paper, or communicated verbally. The typesetter does double duty as designer as well.

Though it often gets covered by newer bills or washed away by rain, Colby's work does not go unnoticed in the art world. In 2003, Allen Ruppersberg asked Colby to print a phoneticization of Allen Ginsburg's 'Howl' as a collection of posters. In 2008, Peter Coffin submitted 80 custom color combinations to be printed as split fountain backgrounds. Skate photographer C. R. Stecyk III's ubiquitous 'Vato Skull' and 'Untitled' posters were printed on the same press used for ours.

Hand-Set Wood, Steel, Lead, and Aluminum TypeHand-Set Wood, Steel, Lead, and Aluminum Type

A movie poster typically reflects the personality and identity of the film. 11/4/08 is the conglomeration many voices and perspectives. These posters attempt not only to represent that plurality, but add to it.

Click to enlarge:

Check out more of Felipe's excellent work on his site