Photopolymer Plates and The Devil

In an earlier post, we discussed at length the History of Photopolymer Plates….. and many of us added to the conversation. However, I’ve recently ran across an article that says that ALL of our earlier posts are either wrong or partially wrong, mine included. Here’s the real truth:

“I firmly believe that these new photo-plastic print media were invented by the Devil in conjunction with evil capitalist Mega-Corporations with the intent of making us dependent upon The Man, and doing away with real craftsmanship, self-reliance, and traditional wholesomness.”

(as reported in the Haight Street Printmaker’s Annual, 1978. author unknown.)

Yep old Belzebub is responsible for the whole thing…. and all this time I thought it was one of our more vocal Briar Press correspondents! I guess he’s just “The Man”. (just kidding)

Personally, I also think The Devil was instrumental in developing the Photocopier ( along with Xerox and IBM) which almost killed off the small printshop in the 1970’s and 80’s…. but I don’t have any documentation to back that up.

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This just confirms that the Devils these days have far too much time on their hands. Wouldn’t have happened if we drove them hard enough that they couldn’t see the bottoms of their hell-boxes! A

Very amusing, but I will bet that “plastic” in this sense just means artificial, not hand-crafted. As someone who spent time on Haight Street, I will bet you absolutely nobody there in 1978 was doing printmaking from photopolymer relief plates or likely even aware of such. But a printmaker might easily rant against photo-etchings or photo-silkscreen (which actually could have been a photopolymer emulsion) as “photoplastic”. Compare that to a print done by hand in wood or linoleum, or engraved or etched in copper or zinc, or a hand-cut screen stencil: art from the hand. Perhaps the original writer would also be appalled by the artificial look of today’s vector-based art, more than the plastic now used as image-carrier, and declare that the Devil is digital, with Jobs and Gates his greedy minions. On the other hand, maybe he’s doing photo-murals on an Epson printer now.

Winking Cat, You probably know this, Printing used to be considered a “Black Art”. Fust was accused of being
in the assoiciation with the Devil, to save his ass he ratted out Gutenberg. I print with type and photopolymer and would like to think I do it with craftsmanship,self reliance,or at least I hope my clients do. I thought the devil invented mobile homes. I do have issues with the invented terms
“solar plates” ,”Photopolymer gravure” and the latest in colleges and universitys “pressure printing”? In my opinion
thats where the damage is being james

Actually P.Imp…. I think you are correct. As an old-school SF printmaker myself, I don’t think the writer had photopolymer in mind back in 1978. I’m guessing that he was indeed talking about photo-silkscreen emulsions that were replacing hand-cut stencils in the Art / Poster scene.

He does make a valid point about being dependent on “The Man” though. Back in the 1960’s and early 1970’s some of the printmakers took great pride in using home-made equipment, and alternative materials. Folks would hold free classes on how to use everyday materials to produce fantastic end-products. They didn’t want to use “store-bought” materials if at all possible since that would be supporting the evil mega-bizzzzz.

The idea was to build their Art in such a way that it could not be taken away, codified by the mainstream, or bottled up by big corporations and sold back to them for grossly inflated prices. So, they made their own screens, cut butcher-paper stencils, used whatever paint wouldn’t clump up everything….. and printed some of the best work ever done. The emphisis was all about the artwork and free expression, and the economics was secondary concern.

Today….. the esthetic and mindset is totally different. Pre-digitized artwork, photoshop software, and direct to negative printers are totally different than the hand created masterpieces of yesteryear. The funny thing is that the technical quality of today’s work is VERY high….. far better than what was done in 1970. But the asthetic creativity is far, far less.

We are technically better today, but not nearly as creative.

el Diablo es Digital!

“el diablo es digital” —correction:

“Er Diablo es Digital! — ¿que si?

Well, I did not post anything about the polymer plates history post cause I actually though —always did— that it was no one else but Zapata himself, who invented the plastic plates. After all it is almost plastic, chemistry apart.
Is thi devil involved too?
What one has to do to make a living …


One night in August of 2001 I was reading in The Printer where the editor (so to speak) claimed that there was an international poly plate conspiracy intent on taking over letterpress. The very next day I founded PPLetterpress to ensure this. Maybe I am the Devil.


For the fellow who wondered (privately) about the name.

PP is engineering shorthand for photopolymer.

PPL is internet shorthand for “people.”

There is also the possibility that it is scatological.


You know Gerald, I wondered if such might be the case when I ran across that quote! ;)

However, if we follow that line of reasoning, you must also be responsible for the Mexican Revolution, and the Xerox Copier! Wow…. that’s quite a resume’!

” Maybe I am the Devil “

I have seen your picture with horns. The picture is in you blog. It is a “toss” box or you called it something else.
I liked also the “type pancake”, or, is that a pie?


Nope, not on the blog, but rather the flickr page:

It’s a decorated hell-box. An artist friend made it for me some many years ago.

The type-high-pie is a paper weight made of scrap type metal by a printer friend.


Oh that is true, now that you mention. Awesome. When I first saw it my first impression was that you were going nots and I thought, hmmmmm….

I drop by from time to time when time is plenty and when I have time to have time to waste some time I will make a time and drop by to have a good time.

Another thing thought is that maybe it is not the devil, it is obra of the Terminatore that needed to come up with an Anti-Terminatore-Terminatore to dismitify the tale that the devil is to blame.

Terminatore™, Anti-Terminatore™ and Anti-Terminatore-Terminatore™ are trademarks of their creators and therefore it is used here as a word, which, no one, not even the Terminatore™, Anti-Terminatore™ and Anti-Terminatore-Terminatore™ can have copywrited or trademarked.

Double post that I am editing with this line.

I saw a thing on TV the other day that reminded me of this discussion: A historian stated quite unabashedly that it was the development of printing that caused the Reformation, and thus started the slow decline of the traditional Catholic Church. wowzers!