Mystery Train Letterpress Poster

Aloof teenage Japanese tourists, a frazzled Italian widow, and a disgruntled British immigrant all converge in the city of dreams—which, in Mystery Train, from Jim Jarmusch, is Memphis. Made with its director’s customary precision and wit, this triptych of stories pays playful tribute to the home of Stax Records, Sun Studio, Graceland, Carl Perkins, and, of course, the King, who presides over the film like a spirit. Mystery Train is one of Jarmusch’s very best movies, a boozy and beautiful pilgrimage to an iconic American ghost town and a paean to the music it gave the world.

These limited edition posters were designed and handcrafted by the letterpress artisans at Yee-Haw Industries in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Printmaker/designer BJ Alumbaugh explains how Yee-Haw does what it does:

“Our process is pretty true to how they would have actually done it seventy to one hundred years ago. We use Vandercook proofing presses, mainly from the thirties and forties. When we initially proofed the headline type, it was all laid out using ascending sizes of wood type. The credits were all typeset using antique wood and lead type.

“Everything in letterpress is set in reverse. So we have fonts of individual letters that are all reversed, and when the paper offsets onto the type it becomes right-reading. Producing a run of posters is a rather slow process. All the prints are hand-printed, one color at a time (Mystery Train is three colors on whiteboard), allowing for time to dry in between. Most of the wood type we use is probably eighty to one hundred years old—strong stuff!”

Check out this photo of the printing plate used to make these posters, and a rack of them drying!

Limited-edition letterpress poster.
16.4″ × 23.1″ (rolled)

All posters ship individually, separately from other products, including other posters.


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