From the Series
In the world of design, Lego might actually be the most versatile material, or “building block”. These colourful blocks find countless applications in various forms of formal creativity, the latest as letterpress printing bricks.
Physical Fiction, or Sam Cox and Justin LaRosa, has created a hand-built Lego letterpress that prints pixel art. The Lego bricks are smoothly clicked into place on plastic baseboards that are inked, and voila, there you have handmade prints with an eight-bit aesthetic.
The Lego letterpress uses the reverse image technology first invented by Gutenberg, that presses inked plates onto paper to create a word or image. It works that the ink only sticks to the flat part of the Lego tile and not the exposed pegs, creating fun, retro graphics. The resulting irregularities in texture and detail becomes a key design feature.
Cox explained their process in a NPR interview: “Some of our work is definitely inspired by the characters, imagery, stories and even sounds of old video games. I think working with pixels is always going to take people back to their old video games just because the pixel is such a crucial visual element in them.”