Written by Cheryl Cottrell-Smith
Gutenberg changed the world with letterpress printing but we’ve moved far away from this technique in the age of word processing systems. The printing press technique has since been revived as an artisanal craft, used not as a way of distributing news or broadsheets, but as a way to develop something unique. Pieces of art. Hand-crafted papers with distinct impressions that show an obvious use of the letterpress technique.
Enter Ochre Lea. Edmontonian Cate Kuzik has combined the traditional use of letterpress printing with her love for the arts and pop culture. The result is a delightful assortment of handmade artwork featuring superheroes, cartoon characters, and more.
“What we do is letterpress art—it’s a lino block or wooden carving,” says Cate’s husband, Jared. “All the images are carved out and then printed onto paper using a letterpress. [It’s the] same kind of technology used to make newspapers back in the early 1900s. Even the type that’s used is either antique wood or lead type individually set.”
Under the brand of Ochre Lea, Cate crafts handmade letterpress posters featuring pop culture icons such as Batman, a selection of green fictional characters (think Shrek), and Drax the Destroyer from Guardians of the Galaxy.
“They’re printed in a limited run and there’s a slight variation in the colours throughout the printing,” says Cate.
Her first time selling Ochre Lea prints was at the 2014 Edmonton Expo, but Cate has been applying for more markets and conventions since then and hopes to continue expanding the range of her artwork.
An online store is in the making for Ochre Lea. In the meantime, you can visit ochrelea.com for a gallery of Cate’s letterpress art.