Yee-Haw Industries | Industrial Letterpress & Design Company
Hiring Yee-Haw

If there's one question we get on a daily basis, it's got to be, "How do ya'll do that?" Letterpress posters, prints, and fine art all require a step-by-step process to go from an idea in our head (or your noggin) to a hang-on-the-wall finished product.

*So what's the difference between carving into linoleum or into wood? Wood is very tricky to carve, especially with fine typography and illustration. Linoleum, while still requiring practice and skill, tends to go faster. A general rule is that "production" posters--those for bands, theatre events, readings--tend to have very little lead time; hence, their carvings take place on linoleum. More often than not, fine art prints or posters don't come with a tight deadline and allow for the more time-consuming practice of carving wood.

413 South Gay Street
Knoxville, Tennessee 37902
Ph: 865.522.1812
Fax: 865.524.8897

We start out by sketching our ideas on paper. This is the first testing ground for designs and illustrations, as well as original typography. It's in the sketching process that we determine how many colors a poster will require.

Working from our sketches, we begin the carving process. Original designs and typography must be transformed from their life on paper to a format that can be interpreted by the press, i.e., carved blocks. A different block is carved for each color used on a poster. If we're using four colors, we must carve four different blocks. All carvings are mirrors of what the final design will be (so they're actually done backwards) and are done on either linoleum or wood.*

Selecting and laying out any lead type, wood type, typography, or dingbats is done during the proofing stage. This is a painstaking process, often involving tweezers (for the tiny lead type letters) and lots of "furniture" (the shims that don't print, creating leading, word spacing, etc). The entire poster is created on the press, proofed, then completely disassembled to begin the actual process of printing.

Each block is run on the press separately, again, beginning with the key block and ending with the lead and wood type, and dingbats. Start doing the math on this, and you quickly realize that everyone who works at Yee-Haw has a pretty good right hook. The average four-color poster goes through the press four times for one final print. If that poster is ordered in a quantity of, say, 200 posters, that's 800 press runs for one order. But there's another factor to consider, the waiting. These are heavy-inked posters, so in between each run through the press there must be an 8-hour drying period to let the colors set. When you're printing, you gotta print, and when you're drying, you just gotta wait.

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