I recently took a short trip to Lisbon and while I knew it was a city famous for it’s ornamental tile work, it was fantastic to see it up close, especially since so many of the patterns and flourishes have a lot of similarities to letterpress ornament. There were some great examples of the range of styles and effects at the Museu Nacional do Azulejo (National Tile Museum), from the Moorish origins up to more recent experiments like the ones at the bottom here by Ivan Chermayeff from 1996 for the Tiles of the Ocean mural outside the Lisbon Aquarium.

It wasn’t all just tiles and ornament but I spotted some tasty signwriting too whilst wandering the streets and some very nice hand painted street names.

Ambling through the narrow, steep alleyways can yield all sorts of pleasant surprises, none more than spotting the curved spoke of a flywheel through the window of a shop. A second glance and yes, printed items in the window, the sheen of cast iron; it’s a lovely little letterpress print shop Artes & Letras Atelier. Inez has some very nice notebooks, cards, artist’s editions and experimental work on display plus we had a quick chat about presses, printing and the finer points of never having enough space for anything!

It’s always nice to happen across another letterpress printer in the wild. If you find yourself in Lisbon, her studio is well worth a visit.

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