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  • Danielle Louise

Week 7 | Research & Theory

Exploring research methods to analyse and contextualise material.

What does research mean to you? To me it is a way of problem solving - to study and and analyse to learn and solve a problem.

Generally, the methods of academic research have broadly been split into two distinct

arenas. To conduct academic research the qualitative and quantitative methods are suggested to be used. A qualitative method of reasearch is broadly concerning discourse and language, while a quantitative method broadly concerns measurement and numbers.

What makes a good research question?

1. A good research question must be relevant.
2. A good research question is manageable.
3. A good research question is substantial and original.
4. A good research question must be fit for assessment.
5.A research question needs to be interesting.

CRAAP test - useful for assessing relevance of source.

C= currency. Is the information up to date? Does this matter?
R = relevance. Does it relate well to your research area?
A = authority. Who is the author or source? Are they credible?
A= accuracy. Is it reliable, truthful and correct?
P = ourpose. What is the reason it exists? Or who is it aimed at?

Wooden Letterpress Block

The object I have chosen to research is a wooden letterpress block I got as a gift from a friend when I was about 15. I don't know the actual font - but it looks most like Helvetica Condensed Black. It was bought from an antique shop that is no longer open, so I have always had a fascination with it.

Letterpress is a relief process of printing where paper is placed over inked type blocks and then pressure is applied to imprint this onto the paper. This type of printing using wooden blocks was invented by the Chinese and was flourishing within fine art by the tenth century. Pictures and words would be carved into wooden blocks which were then pressed onto paper. Johannes Gutenberg invented letterpress printing in Europe and printed the first book in Europe in 1445.

With the invention of digital printing, letterpress became not as commonly used as it was, due to being slow and not as reliable as digital printing. As Fleishman writes "all the major producers of letterpress type ceased production in the 1980s as the computer revolution took hold, and uncountable tons of type were thrown into dumps." Another reason why this letterpress piece is fascinating.

However, Martha Stewart was one of the first to highlight that the art of letterpress had faded and looked to revive it. She created wedding invitations that used letterpress to create a handcrafted look and feel. It has come back into fashion within the art industry with Gutenbergs printing method being reinvented. Bespoke studios and art universities usually have access to printing presses to specialise in experimental works and art that provides an authentic handmade look. Like The Letterpress Collective in Bristol who create custom commissions but also run workshops - keeping the medium alive.

Pipes, Alan. 1992. Production for Graphic Designers. 5th edn. London: Laurence King Publishing Ltd.
Fleishman, Glenn. 2017. 'How Letterpress Printing Came Back from the Dead'. Wired. Available [accessed 17.03.2023].
The Letterpress Collective. Available at: [accessed 17.03.2023].

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