In current digital world, the advanced technologies have made it very easy for us to recreate something that used to need manual works, and resulting in products that display similar qualities. For example, in photography world, photographers have been using digital cameras to emulate the same feeling that analog photos give, offering them with cheaper and safer options. However, similarity will never be the same. When I was talking to Karen, I got the feeling that letterpress is closely comparable to the analog film photography for printmakers, yet with much more expensive and rare machinery they have.
Just like cameras, there are many technologies and techniques offered today that try to replicate the results the letterpress machines produce. However, the little details on the impressions are something that make them unique. Similar to the film photography world, the craft and the process that relies heavily on human touch are what make the results so classic and give them a soul.
After years of working with The Distillery Australia, Karen decided to bring this beautiful heritage home to Indonesia. She knew it was going to be a long journey before people could start appreciating this beautiful bequest. However, this is her dream, she longs for people to learn what this beautiful machines offer.
Every time a prospective client wants to meet Karen, she always encourages them to come to the showroom to see and experience the beautiful process of letterpress first hand. She has two of the infamous heidelberg machines in her showroom, named Rama and Shinta. Each one of them is handled by one dedicated printmaker. Karen believes that having one printmaker handles one particular machine will build a relationship between the two, almost as if they share a soul.
For me, witnessing it was such a beautiful experience. As she said, we appreciate Art through our senses. Watching how manual the old German machine works, touching the texture of the cotton papers, feeling the deep impressions created, along with the smooth jazz music played at the room, everything brought us back to an era where being a printmaker is an occupation highly regarded and full of pride. The whole experience enhances our senses to respect the beauty and the legacy left by history.
Coming to work everyday, Karen brings her heart of love for letterpress. This love is the force that encourages her to realize her dream one step at a time. She wants the public to learn, not only the beautiful results these machines produce, but even more, the endless possibilities they can create when this heritage is married with modern designs. Even I got excited listening to Karen’s dream and passion. That there, is where I respect her.