Letterpress Poster Edition for Thinktopia

Thinktopia®, an idea generation company for some of today’s leading brands, commissioned this striking poster from illustrator Federico Jordan. Federico explains “The skull reflects our existence and interior vision: our vanitas.” He created this image for Thinktopia that explores the Shakespearian Yorick, San Jerónimo and mesoamerican skull racks called Tzompantli. There is an article on the back of the poster from Patrick Hanlon at Thinktopia that speaks about branding. (This poster print will serve Thinktopia as a new business tool – a mailing to prospective clients) More companies could learn from this – send out something cool to start a good conversation. We would say that an illustrated letterpress print is guaranteed way to get someones attention.

The 18 x 23 size poster is printed letterpress in four colors on Crane Lettra Pearl White cotton stock in both 110 and 220lb thicknesses on our Heidelberg Cylinder – quite possibly one of the most difficult jobs run in our shop recently. It was difficult because of the amount large areas of solid color, the thickness and size of the stock, and the tight registration. There is no overprinting of any of the colors, so all four color plates lock into each other with little forgiveness for shifts in register created by sheet distortion. Sheet distortion is physical stretching of the paper created under heavy impression. Each pass through the press creates slightly more distortion. So by the time we got to color number four, there was some colorful language as well. The 110lb stock ran pretty well but the 220lb stock is a bear to auto feed – especially five passes through the press.




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  • Amazing! Great detail and awesome colors. Love the optical illusion, too, though I’m not sure if that was intentional.

  • Amazing… how do i get one? :)

  • Dude, you get such great coverage with your cylinder. Double-pass? Heavy ink? Or is it just because the cylinder puts more even and heavier pressure during print?

    I would buy one of these posters if you’d let me.

  • Sorry, the posters have left the studio to Thinktopia , and they are not ours to sell.

    Vandercooks, Heidelbergs kick platen press ass for impression strength and inking ability – cylinder presses are best suited for larger forms. They put down a single line of pressure as the cylinder and bed of the the press print the form. A platen press has to do a whole form in one big bang with its clamshell action. The pressure a cylinder press can produce is much greater and even.

    The struggle is still most definately consistency of color through ink density. Even on a cylinder press, letterpress just does not produce the consistent color coverage that offset printing does. And even with an ink fountain on our Heidelberg, there is a constant struggle to maintain an acceptable range of ink density over the run. This difficulty is compounded with a heavy cover weight stock with feeding difficulties that makes the press stop often. So yes, the cylinder press is why the coverage and impression look great. However, it is not a magical letterpress bullet. There is still ink density variation within the print run that is inherent to printing a large solid color area with letterpress.

  • Cool. Sounds like fun! The single line of even pressure makes complete sense now. Keep up the good work.

  • Man, this is good. Would you guys deliver stuff to Australia? I’ve been looking for something unique like this for my business cards. (Pls email me you catalog if you can).