Thomas Siemon

Thomas Siemon veteran

carpe plumbum

Leipzig is not cool!

How long have you been printing?


Describe your first encounter with letterpress

When I was young (around 16) I had the chance to enter a letterpress workshop in the small town I grew up in the north of Germany. I was totally fascinated by the Linotype, all the presses and the type and the possibilities that they offered. It was not a commercial printshop, owned by a more or less anarchistic guy. Great space in a former watertower. With a small group of enthousiasts we printed flyers and posters to make the world a better place. I soon fell in love with the letterpress technique. With the politics that's another story...

Where did you learn?

At the place I mentioned above an annual meeting – the "Typomania" – is held since 1987. Around 15 book artists come for 4 days to print together. I participated in this from 1987 to 1996. There I learned a lot – not only about letterpress. Later then in my first own printshop in a cellar in Kassel. A lot of "learning by doing" and doing almost everything wrong that could go wrong with letterpress once in a while. But now, after nearly 30 year I feel that I'm not that bad at it

Who was your most influential teacher?

Some friends I made at the Typomania, Joop Visser, Oskar Bernhard, Lothar Micklei

What super power would you like to have?

Being super strong – could be useful in moving presses

Do you prefer to work alone or with others?

I enjoy both. In my workshop I'm usually alone.

What do you most value in your friends?

Humor, honesty and that they still consider me to be their friend even if we haven't seen or talked for a long time.

When do your best ideas occur to you?

When I have no paper or pencil to write them down.

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

Corvinius bold

What tool do you use more often than any other?

Usually the one that doesn't hide somewhere behind the others.

What books are currently on your nightstand?

Jonathan Franzen, The Twenty-Seventh City
Andreas Feininger, Die Welt neu gesehen
The Walking Dead, Kompendium I

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

William Morris

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

3 proof presses FAG (30×50, 50×70 and 60×80cm), Mailänder proof press 100×140cm. "Präsident" Cylinder Press 70×100cm, Heidelberg Windmill. Lots of type. Linotype model 16 and lots of matrices. Nebitype Typecasting Machine. Paper cutter and some other stuff

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

Would be cool to have a nice floor out of wooden bricks.

When and where are you the happiest?

Most happy moments are too private to share here, but I have happy moments in my workshop, also when traveling. Driving through the Alpes to Milan for example is always nice.

What is your greatest fear/worry?

Having to move the workshop to another place. So to everyone: Leipzig is not cool! Hipsters stay in Berlin please...!

What do you think is useful about what you make?

That it doesn't need too be useful.

What’s your day job?

Printing, typesetting, organizing, cleaning presses, cleaning workshop, answering phonecalls, trying to find my desk under the pile of paper that intends to cover it during the day, asking myself why it is so late again.

Do you use any other techniques or media besides letterpress?

Woodcut and print from all kinds of materials.