Tipoteca Italian Foundation is a printing museum located near Treviso in the small town of Cornuda, Italy. Amanda and stumbled upon it during a visit to the Prosecco Hills—this was completely unexpected since Letterpress has been a huge part of my career development and interest in Graphic Design since I started college.
That said, after we found the museum I went to follow them on Instagram. Upon doing this I realized I had been following them since before we moved to Italy—it’s a small community! The first time we found the museum it was Sunday and everything was closed, but I was able to make the hour drive back from Polcenigo the other day to explore the museum and printing studio (which I didn’t know they had on-site)—the resources and history here are incredible!
I was lucky enough to meet the director, Sandro, who is super nice. I also met two visiting designers, Veronica and Dario—they are planning a five-day workshop called “TypeHype” for late August in the incredible studio space. I spoke to Sandro, Veronica, and Dario at length about our letterpress stories—we realized we actually had some mutual friends and acquaintances (again, small world). The crew graciously invited me to lunch with them at Ristorante Le Corderie di Mauro Dragowhich, which was fantastic—for the food and conversation!
A few looks at the workshop, museum (shout out to Bari), and upstairs gallery. The current exhibition is a “25 years of Tipoteca” anniversary poster. P98a, Hatch Showprint, Hamilton Wood Type Museum and many others were featured—all of the prints are fabulous. I took a ton more photos—these literally barely scratch the surface as to what is available to see and experience in the museum.
reflecting on my own letterpress story…
The strange coincidence of moving to a new, far away place and literally stumbling upon a place like Tiptoteca prompted me to reflect on the importance of letterpress for me—and how, to a large degree it has shaped my career as a teacher and practitioner. My fascination with letterpress started my Sophomore year of college when Dirk Fowler of F2-Design visited one of my classes and showed us what he had been printing—this was a mind-blowing experience for me. It was also an amazing experience to eventually work with him as a colleague for three years as Graphic Design faculty at Texas Tech University. Nobody has taught me more about teaching than Dirk. As I had mentioned in previous posts, an assistantship in letterpress was the reason I chose to go attend the University of Tennessee. At the time, Yeehaw Industries was in Knoxville, now Voodoo Rocket (Kevin Bradley) was there. Also the University of Tennessee had a top three printmaking program in the United States. In 2007, I was accepted into the Graphic Design program, but collaborated with the printmaking program to start a functioning letterpress shop that would be open to students—I’m proud to see it’s still going today!
I taught one studio course in foundations and letterpress through weekly open hours and workshops. This paid my out-of-state tuition at the university fully and provided enough of a monthly stipend for me to live on—it was such a wonderful time in my life. I had full, 24/7 access to the studio and I quickly became addicted to letterpress. It was literally like a drug for me—that and screenprinting 🤓.
Directly above and below ⬆️ ↘️ are some early shots of the UTK Letterpress shop and one of the first posters I printed. We didn’t have much in the way of large wood type, so I took to carving my own letters in wood or linoleum. (got some nice scars on the hands from learning 😅 ).
Since I left UTK, I’ve always stayed connected to letterpress and take every opportunity I can to share it with my students, but I do miss printing and having that 24/7shop access! The photos above ⬆️, taken between 2017-2020 are from Texas Tech University’s satellite printmaking studio, CASP with Victoria Marie Bee and The University of Florida’s letterpress shop and special collections library with Ellen Knudson of Crooked Letter Press.
letterpress follows me, I follow letterpress
Visiting Tipoteca was such an amazing experience and I hope to go back and visit soon—heck, maybe I can even print something there ( I already have a few ideas—maybe I’ll post about them here later). I joke that letterpress follows me, but I suppose it isn’t really a joke. Seeing the printing studio here made me feel the same excitement as a maker I felt when I was just a. kid applying to graduate school. The museum and gallery sections of Tipoteca are incredible, but for me the shop is always where it’s at—it’s where I feel most comfortable and capable.