BL Blog

Seeking Inspiration — July 20, 2014

Cool Stuff

Welcome to Seeking Inspiration, an irregular column where we talk about the things that inspire us as artists. 

This video came through my RSS feed last week, and got me thinking of a lot of different things all at once.

First, if you haven’t been to Gestalten’s website, go there. It’s like a museum gift shop, bookstore, and art gallery all at once.

Back to this video. After almost 30 years of working on screen, Erik Spiekermann is getting back to the physical, with old-fashioned typography and letterpress printing. It’s a very physical medium, and the end result bears the hallmark of the process. Done right, letterpress printing leaves its own subtle feel on the finished work.

What struck me is the physical aspect of this process, and how much it appeals to Spiekermann. It’s something that’s been nagging a bit at my lately, and has caused me to start picking up this little beauty from time to time.

Hasselblad V series camera

Hasselblad V series camera

Of course, it’s not something we rent here at BorrowLenses – though we do have the very nice H5 digital series from Hasselblad in stock now. I find myself pulling this particular camera out more often lately, and have begun to take a visceral pleasure in the process of shooting film. Until recently, I developed my own B&W film as well, but I’m now looking to have that done professionally, and get into the darkroom to make silver gelatin prints instead.

Like Spiermann, I find myself thinking of the photo within the limitations of what my materials can accomplish, and that inadvertently influences my final piece. When you’re shooting with film, you’re locked into one ISO, and one type of film. I shoot B&W, so everything I look at has to be evaluated in that regard. Those constraints can often be really powerful in forcing a level of creativity out of you that you might not be aware you were capable of.

My friend and colleague Alexandria Huff has taken to printing a lot of her work lately, and is loving the experience of holding a print in her hands. It’s pretty easy to get lost in a mass of pixels and sometimes, it takes the act of holding something physical to sometimes move us, creatively speaking.

Alex Huff, talking about one of her prints.

Alex Huff, talking about one of her prints.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with posting your work to, Facebook, Instagram, or any other online service whatsoever. I do it all the time, as does Alex. Almost every one of our colleagues does too. Increasingly, though, a number of us are either augmenting or supplementing our work with a touch of the physical. Whether that’s shooting with film, printing our work, using it as part of mixed-media collages, or any number of other methods and processes, we find that the inclusion of an analog component into our work is a real boost to our creative processes.

What about you? How have you stepped outside the world of pixels lately? Sound off in the comments, please — we’d love to hear from you.


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Sohail Mamdani is a writer and photographer based in the San Francisco Bay Area. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook or Google+. You can find his portfolio on his website at as well as on 500px and Flickr.

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