Merging old with new, University of North Texas faculty member Lari Gibbons earned honorable mention in the international Adobe Design Achievement Awards competition for using Adobe software to make a printing matrix for a restored printing press.
Gibbons, associate professor of printmaking in the UNT College of Visual Arts and Design, earned the honorable mention in the “traditional media in education” category for using Adobe Creative Suite and a computer-numerically-controlled router — or CNC router — to create a printing surface that can be used in presses without traditional and sometimes hard-to-find accessories, she said. The project was the extension of a Spring 2011 project, in which she and four students rebuilt four letterpresses.
“In planning how we might use them, I felt that using some of CVAD’s new software and computer-run production equipment might offer us a great way to start using the presses even while we were finding — or in some cases, making — missing parts,” Gibbons said.
“Traditional letterpress printing involves setting each individual letter and image by hand. It requires specialized tools, equipment and accessories that we did not necessarily have — especially in the early stages of our project,” she said.
And learning how to set type and design a page merits a class of its own, she said.
This semester, Gibbons plans to refine the prototype in preparation for an upcoming conference presentation at Southern Graphics Council International in New Orleans, where a video demonstration of the UNT press restoration project will be shown. She points out that the prototype has limitations and does not replace traditional lead type or engraved blocks.
“My idea is that if you use the resources you have available to make people to fall in love with printing on hand presses, you can hone their passion and build their skill set in time,” Gibbons said.
Billed as “the world’s premier design, film and interactive media competition for higher education students and faculty,” the Adobe Design Achievement Awards competition had more than 4,600 submissions. In addition to Gibbons’ honor, UNT senior Brady Jackson was named a finalist in the mobile design category in the competition this year for designing a concept for an iPad app that would allow people to donate sugar-free confectionery to diabetic camps for kids.