Brad Vetter is a designer, letterpress printer, artist, and educator currently based in Louisville, KY. Soon after graduating from Western Kentucky University where he studied graphic design and printmaking, Brad began working at the legendary Hatch Show Print in Nashville, TN. At Hatch, he did everything from sweep the floors to training the interns, all while printing posters for his favorite bands and bringing a fresh new approach to working with the antiquated process of letterpress.
Armed with a printing press and some woodtype, Brad went on to start his own shop, Brad Vetter Design in 2012. Brad Vetter Design strives to push letterpress forward and never stop exploring its possibilities. He began working on digital design projects while never taking off his apron. Now walking the line between analog and digital, Brad’s posters are created with a combination of antique type/presses and a laser engraver. These days, Brad spends his time teaching workshops, designing wine labels & other fun things, printing letterpress show posters, building community, and making art.
It is important to me, as a letterpress printer, to acknowledge the medium in a contemporary context. The traditions and techniques of letterpress have been with us for centuries, yet the utilitarian nature of the process seems to be changing. Letterpress has been rendered irrelevant as other forms of communication far surpass letterpress in speed and quantity. Therefore, it’s main function is no longer to communicate, but to engage. The process becomes a celebration of both its own history and the new context that we as makers create for it. It is important for me to understand and respect the traditions of letterpress, but then expand to create a more relevant context for the work I create.
My life as a graphic designer allows me to spend most of my time being creative for clients. Printing show posters becomes a break from the sometimes monotonous digital design world I live in from time to time. The idea of the show poster has changed over the years from something used as to get people to the show, to a merchandise item that is more of a celebration of that particular show and the band itself. These posters no longer need to be read quickly from a distance allowing me, as the designer, to create something a little more concept driven and intricate in detail. I have always really appreciated the utilitarian purpose of the poster throughout history, whether to incite a revolution, fight injustice or simply get people to a show. Understanding this context is something I am constantly struggling with in terms of trying to make something that feels that important, that is relevant today in one way or another.