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Letterpress stationery with an Icelandic twist

Reykjavik Letterpress uses a mix of old and new methods

Reykjavik Letterpress uses a mix of old and new methods

Icelandic designers Hildur Sigurðardóttir and Ólöf Birna Garðarsdóttir were both working for the same agency when they found themselves with an unwelcome amount of time on their hands during the country’s economic crisis in 2008. So they established Reykjavik Letterpress (opens in new tab), the country’s sole letterpress studio.

Designs are created in Illustrator that are then made up into photopolymer printing plates

Designs are created in Illustrator that are then made up into photopolymer printing plates

"We never understood why there wasn’t a letterpress studio here in Iceland, so we started talking about whether we could just open one ourselves,” Sigurðardóttir explains.

Stroke of luck

In a stroke of luck they found a retiring printer who sold them his letterpress equipment, taught them how to use it and still drops into the studio from time to time. "He checks up on us and makes sure that we take good care of the machines," Sigurðardóttir smiles.

“Designing for this kind of print is different than for offset or digital as you have to keep in mind the debossed result. Simple is often the best,” reflects designer Hildur Sigurðardóttir

“Designing for this kind of print is different than for offset or digital as you have to keep in mind the debossed result. Simple is often the best,” reflects designer Hildur Sigurðardóttir

Having added the necessary printing know-how to their existing graphic design skills, the pair recently picked up an ADC*E (opens in new tab) (Art Directors Club of Europe) silver nomination for their pocket-sized promotional pack, 'A Bit of a Mix'. Printed on a range of papers, 'A Bit of a Mix' features 10 business card-size pages with a variety of fonts and printed handwriting.

Promotional pack

"One is our business card, another has information and a bit of history about the letterpress technique, the next one has text about what we do, set in moveable type, along with the QR code to our site.” The remaining pages are gift cards, a to-do list, “and other fun stuff you can tear out and use".

'A Bit of a Mix' is produced using a range of different papers

'A Bit of a Mix' is produced using a range of different papers

Sigurðardóttir loves the hands-on feel of letterpress: "The way it changes, from looking at the file flat on the screen to a debossed item with its soft feel is incredible. So beautiful."

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