Window Display: Letter Peddler Press

For Culture Days / Nuit Blanche this September, we’ve partnered with Printmonger Press & Martha Street Studio to bring Sean McLachlan’s Letter Peddler Press to the Exchange District Biz office. Letter Peddler Press is a mobile printing press designed to inspire people to create their own letter press art on the streets of Winnipeg.


We recently sat down with Sean to get to know him and learn more about his unique interactive art experience, Letter Peddler Press:



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Photo: Letter Peddler Press on site at the Forks.

What is letterpress printing and what is Letter Peddler Press?

Letterpress printing is a method of printing where a raised image or text shaped surface is covered with ink. Then, a piece of paper is brought into contact with the inked surface and “pressed” into the paper. This transfers the ink and a subtle impression into the paper creating a print with a look and feel that’s unique to letterpress.

As a letterpress printer, I am interested in reusing vintage & antique letterpress equipment in contemporary ways. I’ve developed a mobile letterpress studio that I move (by bike!) for people to visit and make their own letterpress postcards.

How did you become interested in letterpress?

When I first started at Martha Street Studio as a student intern in 2010, I was tasked with sorting letterpress type. Sometimes I think it’s fascination that drew me in, sometimes I think it’s a little bit of Stockholm Syndrome, but I’ve continued being interested in the ability to take preset forms: graphics, letters, images and using them for new purposes.

Photo: Sean McLachlan, printing in his exchange district studio. 

What do you like about this process?

The ability to set ink into paper is such a visceral and strong action. It is permanent, and the texture of slightly impressed text into paper creates a permanence that is unable to be achieved from digital methods. As news and information is most accessible from a digital standpoint, the importance of a physical object to portray an idea feels ever so relevant.

What’s your connection to the Exchange District?

The Exchange has a long history of printing, and I have had the benefit to gather knowledge and equipment from many sources located here. I learned how to use letterpress equipment at Martha Street Studio, where I am fortunate enough to teach the technique now. I have also been extremely lucky to have received a wealth of knowledge and presses, type, images and other equipment from retiring printers who used to call the exchange their home. To keep this printing tradition alive, both in a permanent studio and as a mobile printer, is a huge responsibility toward keeping the historic nature of the Exchange relevant beyond the facades of the buildings.

What does it mean to print something by hand in 2019?

I see a bright future for historical techniques. While digital media faces algorithms and censorships, printing presses continue to leave a physical mark for us to connect with. An ecard will never have the same feel as a handmade card with a tactile surface and a hand written note inside.

Photo: Sean McLachlan, printing in his exchange district studio.

What’s the reaction been like to a mobile printing press? 

I started Letter Peddler Press as a project with Martha Street Studio to bring the print studio out into the public. When I first started, I was nervous people would not have that much interest in what I was doing, but the first year I set up at Nuit Blanche, in 2015, I had a lineup that stretched clear around the block. This was an incredible feeling, to be able to share print- to allow people to create a postcard to send home and try something new. This will be the 3rd time I set up for Nuit Blanche, and I am so thankful that I can still share this experience.

Thanks so much Sean for sharing!

Make sure to stop by the BIZ office Saturday, September 28th from 6pm–12am to print a postcard with Sean during Nuit Blanche! For more information visit our event page here!

For more information visit @letterpeddlerpress on Instagram, and our Nuit Blanche event page on the Culture Days site.