Spring 2003

Overprinting

the editor
Techniques

Statistics, expression, economy and a tactile display of the passage of time

Eye 43 included a single spread labelled ‘Overprinting techniques: some examples and a call for submissions’. Featuring work by Paul Cox, the Office of CC, Michael Renner and others, it was intended to complement Eric Kindel’s authoritative essay ‘When 1+1=3’, which showed several examples of overprinting techniques from the mid-twentieth century. We also invited readers, practitioners and connoisseurs, to submit examples of overprinting techniques: their own projects, or materials they had collected.

Most examples were submitted by their authors – designers and art directors – though one aficionado on Why Not’s Christmas card list drew our attention to that practice’s seasonal offering, and a Wire subscriber pointed out Non-Format’s fondness for both actual and ersatz overprinting in the cd package and feature spreads shown in these pages. And despite many differences in style, form, resources, scale and creative ambition, all the examples shown here have one thing in common: an indulgent client.

Sandypress, in the grand tradition of print industry design sponsors, uses Draught Associates’ posters to communicate with potential clients. The annual 365 , for the AIGA, is unashamedly a book of graphic design for graphic designers, using overprinting as a structural component, that, in the words of Studio Blue’s Cheryl Towler Weese, ‘helps bring potentially boring statistics alive.’ Following a similar path, the mass of facts and figures in a well funded annual report gave BamberForsyth:Fitch a chance to play with specials and spot varnish.

The Leaf Label, dealing in fashionable, but ‘difficult’ music and soundscapes, uses creative design as part of its sales pitch, and The Wire is similarly adventurous in its editorial design. And for Blotto and Dor’s calendar and the Eureka! poster, the clients are the design practices.

Cultural clients, as sympathetic to unconventional design as they are eager to keep budgets low, often provide opportunities for creative over-printing, as we see from some of the flyers and catalogues shown here. In materials such as the posters by Draught and SV, and Müller+Hess’s gallery programmes (see Eye no. 32 vol. 8), the printed work becomes a multi-layered record of time passing, as successive events are marked by each pass of the press. The anxiety of time’s weary course, given the mixed feelings that can attend a reunion of old classmates, twenty years on, can be felt in Stefan Sagmeister’s invitation. His solution: to print over a random collection of 1981 LPs, solid, physical ghosts of that pre-MP3, pre-CD era.

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