Anyone who feels the textured design of our letterpressed Summer Lovin’ label knows it’s not your typical coffee can. What you don’t see is the work behind the letterpress (and all the work before it), the transformation of a single idea when it goes through the creative hands and minds of various artists and art mediums.
When mulling over what might sum up the sweet feel of summer, we thought of a walk in the woods. Once we passed that theme on to Latin American printmaker Reinaldo Gil Zambrano, he saw large swaying pine trees, puffy clouds, and swirls that might indicate that perfect summer breeze. He included fine lines that hinted at pine needles, water, and intricate petals. All things good in a northern Idaho summer.
The result is an image that seems to sway and bloom in motion. The steps leading up to that image required motion and growth too; Reinaldo’s initial design started as a reverse sketch on a sheet of MDF, was transferred to a hand-carved wood block, and was finally inked on paper to complete the process known as relief printing.
For Reinaldo, the extra effort is worth the unique effect in the end.
“I personally enjoy MDF for the visual texture that it provides to the final piece, a hand-crafted feeling that I felt would also reinforce the crafting process that DOMA uses in the preparation of its product,” says Reinaldo.
While he may have a specific idea when he starts a project, the design inevitably shifts as it meets limitations and freedoms across various mediums.
“Every piece goes on a constant transforming process on each stage while passing from paper to wood,” says Reinaldo. “Stimuli triggers an idea, suffering its first transformation when materialized into a drawing. Later, that drawing is transformed by the carving, and finally revealed on the printing. The original idea is preserved by the visual aesthetics but evolves constantly until finally printed.”
Reinaldo refers to this method of relief printing as exploring the “dark side” of ink on paper printmaking, something he’s been doing for the last three years.
Reinaldo loves to share his passion with others; when not printing, he’s teaching 3D design and experimental printmaking at Eastern Washington University. This summer, he’ll offer new illustration and silkscreen courses. (You can find more of Reinaldo’s work on his website or Instagram by following @rgzprints).
For DOMA’s Summer Lovin’, the process didn’t end with Reinaldo’s final ink-on-paper iteration; the design had yet to be readied for the letterpress, an extensive process that’s an art of its own.
Since the main design was a hand-pulled relief print, Breanna White from Typebee Designs (@Typebee) had to do a bit of tinkering to transfer the art to a metal plate for letterpress. (If you’re following along, we’re up to four art mediums now.) Brea vectorized the image and added type from Crowberry Co. She massaged the design to work best with the letterpress, a square press that used rectangle plates to press paper for a round can of coffee.
One of Brea’s recent DOMA projects was the letterpressing of our Super Freak Valentine’s coffee can. She faced different challenges with the Summer Lovin’ label. The Super Freak’s paper was cotton, lending a lovely emboss, but the bright yellow paper meant for Summer Lovin’ was different. She had to put ink on the letterpress more frequently with this print job to make sure each label kept its vibrant orange.
Brea took two days to print close to 2,000 Summer Lovin’ wraps, a task she loved with this particular design as she was the last in a line of artists to put her mark on the piece.
Well, not quite the last artist—we added the carefully-roasted DOMA coffee beans to the can. This year’s Summer Lovin‘ is an awesome heirloom variety of ethiopia from the Worka Cooperative. With aromas of raspberry, flavors of strawberry, and an aftertaste of butterscotch, it will make for a sweet sip of summer.
The bright can shows the benefit of collaboration—many creative minds and hands working hard, contributing quality and inspiration, to create a final product that’s worthy of lovin’.