The Beauty of Letterpress: Gee Whiz!

Written by in Color & Texture, Create, Inspire

The Beauty of Letterpress Edition 13

San Francisco’s Earl Gee:
The Making of a Fine ImPRESSion

This is what happens when you ask Earl Gee to design the newest limited-edition 9.5″ x 14.5″ print for The Beauty of Letterpress by Neenah: a stunning example of what design and letterpress can achieve…with a modern twist and a Russian Constructivist aesthetic.

Gee contributed this beautifully crafted and intelligently conceived print,  Edition 13, The Beauty of Letterpress: The Art of Making an Impression. He and his wife, Fani Chung, are co-founders and creative directors of Gee + Chung Design, established in 1990.


Beauty of Letterpress posters and prints are available for purchase. Proceeds of the sales help sustain Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum in Two Rivers, Wisconsin. Limited edition prints cost only $5. Go online to The Beauty of Letterpress to order yours.


By transforming iconic letterpress tools into typographic forms, Gee draws attention to the amazing tools and techniques of the letterpress craft and trade. “Many of these tools have survived for centuries, connect art and craft, designer and printer, and paper and impression. Letterpress makes a lasting impression because people can see and touch  the artist’s craft.”

Weaving a Typographic Narrative

Earl Gee is internationally admired for transforming everyday objects into compelling and memorable typographic forms he uses as a storytelling device. One of the best and most widely celebrated examples of this is his poster, Discover San Francisco, which he created for Neenah Paper, and unveiled and signed at HOW Design Live San Francisco in 2013. It was selected by the Library of Congress for inclusion in its Prints & Photographs Division, home to one of the world’s most comprehensive poster collections. “Curator Martha Kennedy saw the poster in the CA Typography Annual 4 and contacted me,” recalled Gee. “She said to me, ‘This poster visually celebrates distinctive features of a world-class West Coast city with wit and imagination.’” We agree.


Gee considered various concepts for his design but, he says, “The idea of using tools as typographic forms was impossible to resist. I hope viewers and poster collectors enjoy discovering the tools within the typography as much as I did.” He deploys design, paper, and printing to blend timeless forms, processes, and effects to tell the story of letterpress craft.

The poster’s red and black ink, crisp geometry, and dynamic composition are inspired by Constructivist ideals. “The movement’s dedication to machines and technology, modernist abstraction, and raw functionalism allude to the synthesis of art and machine in letterpress printing,” he adds.

The platen press wheel and mechanical gear, ink blot, woodblock letters, ink brayer, and ink streak illustrate overprinting, while the composing stick, line gauge, and dot-screen represent the ability of letterpress craftsmanship to raise fine detail into a tangible and memorable experience.




Full Print LRHe hasn’t visited the Hamilton Museum yet, but Gee says he will one day. “Supporting this wonderful resource is an important way to preserve our past in order to insure letterpress is part of our lives in the future. Because it is a working museum, visitors can learn about the art and craft of letterpress and contribute to its future relevance and meaning.”

The Beauty of Letterpress: The Art of Making an Impression by Earl Gee. You can see it. You can feel it. And, if you close your eyes, you hear the symphony of sounds that a letterpress makes and smell the warmth of the wood type and machine oils that keep the Hamilton Museum alive and humming.

Printing and Photography

Earl Gee’s Edition 13 was created on CRANE’s LETTRA® Ecru White 90 lb. Cover.

Printing:  Two Paper Dolls (
Photography:  StudioAlex Photography (



  1. 01
    Alyson Kuhn said:

    Ah, the Gee Force is in full effect on this print! I especially love the “of.” Bravo, Earl!

  2. 01
    Matt Porter said:

    Golly Gee’s Good, right?