Li Jiang: Graphic Designer/Letterpress Printer, Artist, and Photographer


Li was one of the first Zendustria artists from way back, and designed our monkey logo for us before running off to Boston.  Li is a graduate of NC State University, with a degree in graphic design. Her background includes studies in Prague and extensive international travel.  Her studies and travels are evident in her printing work of letterpress-printed ephemera, books, stationery, and art prints. Check out Lemoncheese Press at www.lemoncheese.org, and her shop at lemoncheese.etsy.com!

Li began learning letterpress printing in 2005 after freelancing in graphic design for several years, at which point she said she began to realize that she knew very little of how the actual printing process worked, and, having been completely removed from the hands-on aspect of creation, she looked forward to getting her hands dirty again. After moving to the San Francisco Bay area, she learned that the region is a hotbed of letterpress printing, and she decided to more seriously and actively seek out a place at which to apprentice. One day after having wandered into a neighborhood print shop where they were still printing with old printing presses, she found herself as an apprentice master printer Richard Seibert and poster artist David Lance Goines.  In 2006, she started experimenting with using film and polymer plates as a medium. The idea of using new technology in a traditional way was very appealing to her. All the prints you see here are hand drawn directly on the film which is used to expose polymer plates, and then hand-printed.  At Lemoncheese, Li continues to explore new techniques in this hand-crafted method.

To those who may be unfamiliar with the medium and techniques, letterpress printing is the printing of raised type onto a surface. At Lemoncheese Press, the same principals that Johannes Gutenberg applied to the first mechanical printing system over 500 years ago are combined with the precision of modern technology and the practiced eye of an artist to create beautiful and memorable pieces.

To combine all the advantages of digital design with handcrafted perfection, Lemoncheese Press offers printing from photopolymer plates. In this process any digital file, be it image or type, is transferred to a polymer plate with raised surfaces suitable for applying ink. The plate is pressed into the paper creating a crisp impression pleasingly tactile and visibly different from other printing methods.

Metal type has a charm all its own — a slight irregularity and character not often seen in the digital age. Very little new metal type is manufactured presently, but Lemoncheese Press has several fonts of antique type cast in metal for the job that demands it.

Li lives and works out of Berkeley, CA.  Her company, “Lemoncheese Press” actually got its name from a slip of the tongue before a party at a roadhouse theatre where we all met and worked together, but it seemed a perfect fit. She draws inspiration from nature and the little things around us everyday, and especially enjoys traveling and hiking in the California redwoods.  She’s always loved trees – climbing them and drawing them throughout her childhood, but finds a certain sense of universal place among the 5000-year-old redwoods, imagining how the world must appear from their point of view, as epochs and empires rise, fall, and rise again.  Human trivialities become just that – trivial.  However, her talent, imagination, and skill are anything but trivial – be sure to check out more of her work at www.lemoncheese.org and lemoncheese.etsy.com!

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