This research is focused on Bruce Licher, who is a musician, artist, entrepreneur, and designer currently based in Sedona, Arizona. Licher was originally born in Los Angeles where he attended the UCLA Fine Arts Department and studied various art forms such as film, photography, silk screen printing, and sculpture. But while his pieces often reflect the work of a graphic designer, Bruce never studied graphic design. After graduating college, he got his start in professional printing at the Women’s Graphic Center. There, he took a letterpress class learning how to create album covers for his own band SAVAGE REPUBLIC. Licher was able to combine two of his passions and from there, he turned to printing a variety of things such as postcards, record sleeves/jackets, and so on (Licher Art and Design, n.d.). He was commissioned by many bands, especially underground LA bands.
Following his education at the Women’s Graphic Center, in 1982, he founded the Independent Project Press (IPR) as both a record label and art experiment. Over the years he has created album covers, postcards, promotional stamps, stationary, invitations, wine labels, promotional booklets, and much more. On several occasions, Licher has also collaborated with his wife who is a visual artist. Everything produced in the Independent Project Press is printed on the Chandler and Price Platen presses or the Vandercook 219 Power Proofing Press. The shop also contains a vintage Rosback pinhole perforator and other various antique type, ornaments, paper cutters corner rounders, and sequential numbering machines. Along with that, many projects at the Independent Project Press are created from digital files that are made into magnesium, copper, or photo-polymer plates for printing on one of the many presses. (Licher, n.d.)
Bruce is well known in the letterpress community and one of the reasons he is so widely recognized as Richard Kegler says is “Bruce Licher’s Independent Project Press is a contemporary studio that has bridged technological eras and produced an unparalleled body of work. It has culled from the past while simultaneously turning it on its head with a distinct visual vocabulary that continues to influence current aesthetics” (Richard Kegler, n.d.) His graphic design and letterpress printing work has been featured “in two exhibits at the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum in New York City -- the "Mixing Messages: Graphic Design in Contemporary Culture" show in 1996, and the first "National Design Triennial: Design Culture Now" show in Spring of 2000” (Licher Art and Design, n.d.).
While Bruce’s style has evolved over the years, his work is most well-known by the chipboard and metallic inks he prints with which has become his signature style. It is important to note that printing on chipboard is in no way consistent as it is made from recycled materials and thus every sheet may be different in shade, color, or texture. These inconsistencies with the chipboard make Licher’s trademark printing even more unique as each and every piece is truly different. (Yardumian, 2016). This approach to design and printing can be traced to the constructivists, dadaists, and most specifically to HN Werkman (Heller, 2018). For this signature design of his he has been nominated twice for a Grammy for his album packing. Lastly, while many trends go uncredited to the original artist, Bruce is recognized for starting the trend of using letterpress printing on chipboard.
Heller, S. (2018, April 26). Bruce Licher: Letterpress Hero. Retrieved April 5, 2019, from https://www.printmag.com/daily-heller/bruce-licher-letterpress-hero/
Kegler, R. (n.d.). Savage Impressions: The Book. Retrieved April 5, 2019, from https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/p22/savage-impressions-the-book
Licher Art & Design. (n.d.). Retrieved April 5, 2019, from http://www.licherartanddesign.com/index.php/about/
Licher, B. (n.d.). Independent Project Press. Retrieved April 5, 2019, from https://www.independentprojectpress.com/
Raggett, N. (2013, June 24). Interview: Savage Republic’s Bruce Licher. Retrieved April 5, 2019, from http://daily.redbullmusicacademy.com/2013/06/bruce-licher-interview
Yardumian, A. (2016, February 15). An Interview with Bruce Licher – Prolegomenon. Retrieved April 5, 2019, from http://www.timesquotidian.com/2016/02/15/an-interview-with-bruce-licher-prolegomenon