Promotional Broadside

The term ‘broadside’, I am told, comes from the newspaper trade mainly to describe the large size of newsheet, that opens up in a big spread, as opposed to magazine or tabloid. In and around the book arts, it usually means a small poster, one done with type and/or illustrations. They are a nice contrast to book work, since you can put together a broadside in as little as a few hours or up to several days, depending on the complexity. And the work being more concentrated than some jobs, printers often put heart and soul into these pieces.

I haven’t done many broadsides to date, which is a bit of a shame considering I have a press that can take an 18″ x 24″ sheet of paper. I haven’t done a lot of design work for that size, so, again with the comfort zone, like the wood engraving exercise in a previous blog.

The broadside illustrated here measures 22″ long x 10″ tall and is designed to fold in the middle. It’s for a portfolio that will be going to galleries proposing a group exhibition – mine is one of eight such spreads, although it is the only one hand printed, amidst big, splashy full colour ink jet prints, all designed by Holly showcasing the stunning work of all the artists.

Being a promotional piece, I had no issues with using old linocuts to illustrate it, however, the size of it meant that I could only use blocks of a certain size – small – which is not always exactly the best representation of my work. In any event, I found some that fit and they worked out well enough.

Broadside taken broadside... really a 2-page spread.

Photographing in an overcast studio with available light means the sheet looks a bit white-blue tinged. In fact, the paper is buff or cream coloured. This is the first time in a while that I’ve had the chance to play with text, mixing fonts and sizes together on a single form. I took a chance and printed all the type in a single pass. Type was designed to be all exactly the same height (0.918″) for this very reason, but that is no guarantee that it will print properly. I had to underlay the large type ‘Light’ and ‘DARKNESS’, but otherwise I had good luck, and kudos to a wonderful press designed for this purpose.

Hmmm, profound.

I made this quote up, wanting to call attention to how, in type and relief printing, light and dark work together to define each other. But if you want antecedents, watch Tim Curry’s performance of Dark in the movie Legend. Also a nod to Neitzche: “One must have chaos within to give birth to a dancing star.” Really, I just wanted to opportunity to use some type odds and ends kept in trays around the studio, and seldom an opportunity to use them. So out they come. The three tall illustrations were originally used in Kubla Khan. (I just realized that was five years ago!) The hand and head were cut for The Vampire and the Seventh Daughter. The Regency doorway and the nude were parts of past series done to sell individually.

Garamond in relief.

Another little composition to describe the tactile appeal of letterpress printing. I’ve been reading a lot of typographer Robert Bringhurst’s work recently, and his eloquence is rubbing off on me – to some degree. This was set in 18 pt Garamond Italic, the first used type I bought from Don Black linecasting in Toronto.

Yea, verily. Pulleth the pin from the Holy Handgrenade...

End on a upbeat, I always say. The decorated cap is one of a set of 25 (!) that I bought from Don Black. Missing is the letter ‘X’. At the time, I figured, how often would I need X. Not yet at least. The blackletter font (sometimes called gothic, erroneously. Gothic in typography is usually san serif) is Cloister Black, designed by the incomparable Frederick Goudy. When I started out assembling type, I swore that I would give no space whatsoever to blackletter. Just to show you how times change, I now own four trays of the stuff, and I’ve actually used it now and then.

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One Comment on “Promotional Broadside”


  1. […] Graven Images – prospectus – Signature for Wayzgoose – Exhibition promotional broadside – wood engraving self portrait – Tenebrismo regular edition – Graven Images – linocut series […]


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