LPW 1a

Jens Jørgen Hansen veteran


Letterpress is just as dangerous as drugs

How long have you been printing?

I started out with letterpress printing in 1991 when I got a job at the local printing museum, Bogtrykmuseet in Esbjerg. I have always been interested in cast iron, history and books – but the job was the entrance to the world of typography.

Describe your first encounter with letterpress

I can still remember the first day at the museum – the smell of metal, oil, ink and paper. I always say that letterpress is just as dangerous as drugs – have you tried it once...

Where did you learn?

The printing museum in Esbjerg, Bogtrykmuseet.

Who was your most influential teacher?

At the museum there were a lot of skilled old typesetters and printers. I learned a lot from all of them – no one mentioned, no one forgotten.

What super power would you like to have?

It would be nice with some agricultural mechanic super power – always old machines to understand and repair...

Do you prefer to work alone or with others?

I love to have company in the workshop, but I must admit that the solo everyday work is the time where I enjoy the technique mostly – time for absorption.

What do you most value in your friends?

One of the most important things in my work as printer is to give and share – good friends are doing the same.

When do your best ideas occur to you?

Never – there is always space for development.

If you were to die and come back as a typeface, which would it be?

There are so many beautiful metal typefaces out there – I’m not so impressed about wood types. Depending of the job and the current interest and focus favorite typefaces changes – one day Palatino, Hermes-Grotesk or Leibniz-Fraktur another day Helion, Caslon or Legende etc., etc.

What tool do you use more often than any other?

The most important tool in my workshop, besides types and presses are my composing sticks and composing rules. I’m always working with them – without any exception.

What books are currently on your nightstand?

Right now I’m reading Joseph Moxons Mechanick Exercises on the Whole Art of Printing from 1684 – funny to see how much the trade has changed, or the lack of the same, the last 3 centuries.

If you could study with any printer throughout history, who would it be?

I’m very fascinated by the work of William Morris – he could be an option. Otherwise – oh... there so many... T.J. Cobden-Sanderson, Otto Hupp, Friedrich Bauer, Jan Tschichold etc.

If you have your own shop, what equipment do you own?

I have approximately 800 + founts of metal and wood types + ornaments in the shop. In the press room I have an Eickhoff 2BS proof press, a Victoria A2 Gally press and a hand full or two of small platens and simple proof presses. The shop is also equipped with a wide range of special tools covering the needs in a well-equipped workshop. As a very important part of my shop I have a small but very good library and reference collection covering and documenting the art of letterpress printing.

If you could change one thing about your shop, what would it be?

More space.

When and where are you the happiest?

Letterpress is one thing, but the most important is the company of my wife and daughter.

What is your greatest fear/worry?

I have no fears … why fear? Fear will kill you.

What do you think is useful about what you make?

I do hope that my work will stay for an extra second or minute – as a comma would be great.

What’s your day job?

Letterpress printing has been fulltime for several years, but right now I’m studying as pedagogical teacher full time and printing part time. That’s not for closing down but for developing the letterpress business.

Do you use any other techniques or media besides letterpress?

Well, sometimes hand coloring is a great supplement. In my world computers are only for e-mails and facebook.