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Elton John – “Yellow Brick Road” | Elvis Presley “Blue Suede Shoes” | Prince “Purple Rain” | Nena “99 Luftballoons”. Each piece printed with 2 colour plates, except 99 Red Balloons (3 plates), custom duplexed stock and custom die cut.

On the 17th and 18th of October, 2014, The Distillery launched its second studio in Jakarta, Indonesia. Alongside our aim to spread the love of letterpress, was also to spread our love of paper – In particular, GF Smith’s range of Colorplan papers.


Colorplan paper comes in 50 colours and holds letterpress impression beautifully. Its versatility and vibrancy makes it one of our favourite stocks for modern letterpress printing. We also love the challenge and creative possibilities with designing and printing with a background that isn’t white. For our launch, we wanted to show the attendees the possibilities of letterpress printing with Colorplan.

Letterpress printmaking is a tactile trade that celebrates the senses; the colour of the inks, the feel of the impression, the sound of the presses and the smell of a fresh sheet of paper. When creating these new pieces, these senses came to mind. We thought of the idea of Synaesthesia, where different senses get mixed up. A common form of Synaesthesia is an association of sound and colours.


Being huge music fans at the studio, we wanted to expand on this idea for these pieces – by taking some of our favourite studio sounds, and creating typographic keepsakes based on them. We picked some of our favourite artists – Prince, Nena, Elton John and Elvis, to base these works around. After countless sketches and exploration, our idea was for each piece to have its own personality – and for it to capture the era and feeling of the song via typographic illustration.











To further showcase the colours, we decided each piece would have a different coloured stock on its front and back: Azure Blue & Adriatic, Lavender & Purple, Bright Red & Scarlet and Factory Yellow & Citrus. This effect not only doubles the thickness of the stock, but also gives the piece some striking depth and contrast. The colour combinations are almost endless, and if we had more time available, there would have definitely been a third colour stock too.

One of the challenges for our printmakers and designers, was to consider our transparent inks and how they would be affected by the stock. Since the rubber based inks we use for letterpress printing are transparent, it’s difficult to print lighter colours on darker stocks: The white plate on the 99 Red Balloons piece took 4 runs through the press!

Helping launch letterpress in Jakarta was both rewarding and exhilarating. With over 600 people attending over the 2 days, experiencing Colorplan and letterpress first-hand was a huge hit!

Colorplan will soon be available in Indonesia and South East Asia, and we look forward to helping spread the love.

In the upcoming weeks, we’ll post some more of our goodies from our launch on the blog!