Troy Patterson, graphic designer, and third semester student in the MFA in Graphic Design, works with animation, typography, and an artform that is borderline extinct: letterpress. The significance of letterpress on design history and terminology cannot be understated; Troy is on a mission to reinvigorate the art.
Letterpress, a form of linoleum and woodcut printing using typeforms, was primarily used for design and communication purposes. Nowadays, it is an accepted fine art medium. Troy has taken the process and elevated to new heights in his graphic design classes and arts community where he teaches at York College of Pennsylvania. First Fridays in downtown York gives Troy an opportunity to educate people about letterpress. He sets up a demonstration for visitors so they can print and take their letterpress artwork home with them. As Troy describes, “It’s the perfect marriage between what I’m trying to do with my (graduate studies) and professionally for York College: trying to get (visitors) through our space, seeing what our students are capable of doing and then seeing what a letterpress studio looks like and how it operates.”
In his studies at VCFA, Troy has pushed his practice to a broader scale, hoping to incite more interest on the level of social change scale. For a recent Design Ignites Change Awards Program, he submitted a bold design where he compressed the essential parts of a letterpress shop into a small mobile unit. The Awards Program grants thousands of dollars to support student design projects addressing social issues in communities across the globe. Troy’s goal (and design which won him the award) is to bring the empowering experience of creation through this venerable printing technology out of the studio and into his community. His long term goal is, “to re-purpose and refurbish an ambulance as a large scale movable letterpress studio.” As Troy said, “Any type of art that was once commercial and becomes dead, then that’s when it really becomes beautiful.”