I love it when a tech-savvy designer goes back to basics to create fantastic prints – it shows that no matter how far along we progress with technology, there’s something to be said for good old-fashioned artisanship. San Francisco’s Mission District web designer Jonathan Koshi created a series of limited edition calaveras de azúcar (or sugar skulls, most popular during the Mexican Dia de los Muertos celebrations), using pop culture icons as inspiration. Having grown up with a love of all things sci-fi, comic books and videogames, he’s incorporated his own childhood memories into his designs, reflecting the fact that both the calaveras inspire the memories of children who celebrate the holiday.
Rather than create prints using a laser printer, Koshi decided to go the traditional route, by having them hand-printed using a letterpress and vegetable-based ink. “Sure it takes longer, but there’s something nice about transforming digital into Magnesium,” (he writes, via his blog Notes From The Zeitgeist). After having searched for an appropriate printer, he finally decided on having them done by an old-school printer – The Cranky Pressman, in Salem, Ohio, who works in metal, rather than plastic polymer, and uses an old Vandercook press.
Even the paper on which they are printed has an artisanal past – printed on 100% cotton, Lettra line Crane & Co. (one of the oldest manufacturers of paper in America, spanning all the way back to the American Revolution). Each 12″ square print is lovingly pressed by hand. There are six designs, and only 50 prints per design – which have quickly sold out, due to his exposure in such publications as Wired. Perhaps his hobby might turn into a career?