Troy Patterson, Graphic Design professor and advisor to the student AIGA (American Institute of Graphic Arts) chapter at York College, is studying an art form that is becoming extinct – letterpress. Letterpress is a form of linoleum and woodcut printing using typeforms. He specifically chose letterpress because of the significant impact it has had on graphic design. Much graphic design terminology comes from early letterpress technology.
Troy has even set up a letterpress studio at Marketview Arts, the new downtown space for York College art students, where he hopes to conduct classes in letterpress by Fall 2013. Troy already has two Independent Study students working in his letterpress studio. The letterpress studio will be open to both Graphic Design and Fine Art students because, although this type of printing was primarily used for design and communication purposes, it is also accepted as a Fine Art medium.
First Fridays in downtown York is a chance for Professor Patterson to reach out to the community and educate people about letterpress. Troy sets up a demonstration every First Friday and visitors may come in both to see how a letterpress studio is set up and learn how letterpress works. Visitors may also print and take their letterpress artwork with them. This is also a great opportunity for the College and York community to come together and explore art. "It’s the perfect marriage," said Professor Patterson, "between what I’m trying to do with my (graduate studies) and professionally for York College: trying to get (visitors) through our space, seeing what our students are capable of doing and then seeing what a letterpress studio looks like and how it operates."
Professor Patterson also co-operates with York Heritage Agricultural and Industrial Museum. The museum is meant to be a “working museum” with interactive exhibits, but it has become less so over the years. What really interested Troy was the print shop area. There are presses from the 1800s, tabletop presses, Vandercook presses and even Washington and C and P (Chandler and Price) presses similar to the ones Troy has in his downtown studio. At the museum, there is one Vandercook proofing press that still has ink and paper in it from when it was last used that Troy wants to refurbish. He is planning to host demonstrations at the museum of how the press operates. It’s a press that was used originally to print art posters and using the press today would be a great experience for the York College art students and museum visitors.