Angie Hogan, Typesetter at Virginia Arts of the Book Center


“I’m not opposed to one thing or the other,” says Hogan of letterpress versus e-books, “but it’s like the difference between writing somebody a letter by hand and sending them an email.”

I primarily use a Vandercook press, which is not that old, really. It’s probably from the ’60s or ’70s. It’s primarily a proofing press, but lots of people doing letterpress work today use it, people doing wedding invitations and things.
Describe your hands.
The work really doesn’t affect my hands that much. If I do a really heavy day, my index finger might be a little worn down or chafed. And then your arms might get tired, or your legs will be shot from using the foot pedal all day.
How did you learn your craft?
It was at the Arts of the Book Center, but in a different location. The reason I was interested was because I write poetry, I did my MFA at Virginia, and I wanted to print my own work. Several years into the work, I discovered that my grandfather had been interested in letterpress printing. I’ve inherited some type from him, and he had some presses in the basement too that had been water damaged.
Hand care?
The biggest thing is that lead is poison, so you don’t want to consume it. Being exposed to it isn’t that harmful, but it does leave a filmy dust on your hands, so we use the heavy-duty orange soap that mechanics use to break the stuff up. I’d probably wash up a couple more times before eating popcorn or something like that.
After a long day at the shop, how do you unwind?
Usually by coming home and taking off my shoes, changing clothes, definitely sit on something soft, put my feet up. It requires a beer, glass of wine, something like that.