By: Kim Miller, Tribune Showprint—
Muncie, IN—Tribune Showprint is a 141-year-old letterpress shop located inside Madjax. It is the oldest continuously operating letterpress shop in the country and it has always been in Indiana. The shop has had five owners over the years who have all specialized in making posters. Tribune Showprint has printed showcards for countless politicians, fairs, carnivals, races, auctions, musicians, sporting events and movies. Some of its more famous clients have included B.B. King, The Jackson Five, and The Blues Brothers.
Kim Miller bought the shop in 2016 and moved it to Muncie. The first few years she concentrated on running the shop as it had had been for many years. This last year she has worked on adding the products she had been making before she bought Tribune Showprint. The shop now also creates greeting cards, coasters, wedding invitations, coffee bags, business cards, stationary, postcards and silkscreens shirts.
Everything that is created in the shop is handset one letter at a time and ran on machines that are 60-100 years old. Each sheet of paper is hand fed making each item that comes out of the shop unique and just a little different from the one before.
People always ask why these posters are still popular when you can create a digital print using any imagery and colors you like. The easiest answer is nostalgia. These posters were the main way the word got out for events for a very long time. If you have been to a fair or festival, chances are you saw one of these posters advertising it. One glance and you know that there is an event that generally is low cost and outdoors coming up. Seeing one of these posters brings back memories of past events when you see one of these posters on a street corner. The other reason is durability. The posters are weather resistant and last outdoors normally for a month or two. If it rains the posters will still be there. Digital prints fade and fall apart when it rains.
Kim encourages people to come see that shop just to learn about the history and what letterpress is and how it is different from digital prints. Since owning the shop one of the biggest goals has to learn more about the history of the shop. The fun part is when there is time to go through some of the old hand carved plates and print them. Each one has a story. You can see when it has been dropped, if things were stacked on them and made dents, and some are just falling apart and may never be printed again. By going through all of these pieces, piece by piece, we learn more about the history so we can educate the next generation who will take over.
Please visit www.tribune-showprint.com or visit the shop on First Thursday’s to learn more.