It seems that letterpress is alive and thriving on this little island. Who knew?
Corby and Ian of PapyPress, a bespoke stationary studio, fell into this fine art through a series of coincidences. “Back in 2009, I chanced upon letterpress products on Etsy and fell in love with their look and feel,” says Corby. “I showed it to my partner Ian (who manages and operates the family’s printing business) and asked if he knew anything about it.” At the time, Ian didn’t take Corby or the technique seriously, thinking it was more for hobbyists. “We left it at that; I have zero experience in printing anyway,” says Corby. “I continued my love affair with letterpress through online shopping.”
A year later, Ian, while surfing on his iPhone, chanced upon an image of a Heidelberg Windmill (*swoon*). He realized that his late grandfather started the business with several of those machines more than sixty years ago. “That got him interested in letterpress!” says Corby. “He had always wanted to continue his grandfather’s legacy but, unfortunately, none of his machines had survived and we weren’t sure if we could find one in Singapore.”
But, the next day, while looking for an upholster in an industrial park, Corby and Ian “walked past a really old, stuffy, cubby-hole of a print shop that was closing down.” Workers were removing some old machinery and, there in one corner, was a Windmill. “We walked in and the proprietor said he was planning on disposing it since no one was interested in it and he needed to vacate the space soon,” says Corby. “Before we realized it, we had bought the press without knowing if it worked or how to work it!”
Corby and Ian spent six months cleaning—there was sixty years of grime in there—and repairing the press. Then they fiddled and figured out how to use it. “We are still learning and every little bit of newfound knowledge about the press excites us to no end,” says Corby. “And whenever we think back about how we ‘fell’ into letterpress, it still feels surreal. We always joke that it must have been Ian’s grandfather guiding him along from up above.”
Check our their gallery of letterpress, offset, and digital stationary and invitations (PapyPress doesn’t only do letterpress) and connect on Facebook.
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And if you love letterpress as much as I do… Emily Loke, Founder and Creative Director of Paper Tiger Press, a luxury letterpress studio based in Singapore, is going to be a guest speaker at The Conquerer Awards on March 14 at the InterContinental Singapore. The Conqueror Awards honors outstanding design and print achievements.
She’ll be speaking alongside design industry greats Kevin Finn and Jonathan Yuen in between the segments of award categories. She “can’t wait to take the opportunity to talk about letterpress and share some of the intricacies of the art form.” If you’ve ever wanted to know more about what she does, how she does it, and why it’s worth doing, do drop by. There are limited tickets (students: $8; customers of Antalis: $12; general public: $20) available for this event. Register via email at email@example.com.
(Additional credits: Photographs via PapyPress; used with permission.)