What I found so unique about this letterpress studio was the extreme attention to detail and design. Many of SOF’s clients are also designers, so the caliber of work is elevated to a ho-notha-level. And since technique is king at SOF, they also divide the staff into pressmen and designers. Meaning, designers don’t touch the presses and pressmen don’t touch the design work. This allows for each role to be extremely specialized and adds a level of expertise that is very apparent in the quality of the pieces they produce. The employees are passionate about the tactile nature of the medium and strive to create something with rawness and refinement in every project.
When you enter SOF you are immediately bombarded with a barrage of letterpress portfolio examples and men with large beards. Their work adorns two giant walls of galvanized metal, and creates a collage-like gallery of paper, type, texture and color. I think my brain nearly exploded when I first entered the space. I wanted to touch everything.
As the tour progressed, we learned about the history of SOF (which started, btw, over 10 years ago in a basement of cats). We also learned a bit about how the studio operates. They are a modern letterpress studio, so instead of being confined to traditional metal type, they print with polymer plates (which are designed on the computer and then etched into the polymer using an exposure process). With seven letterpresses, and more on the way, they are able to produce a variety sizes, quantities, diecuts, effects and outcomes. There was work that looked like it was screenprinted, painted and even hand drawn. They push the limits of letterpress and their work is unlike any letterpress I’ve ever seen.
If you’re ever in the Minneapolis area, Studio on Fire is a must see.