The Letterpress Flag - Happy 4th of July

Here is a fun project we just did at the Living Letter Press. The type and art comes from the collection we acquired from the Kickstarter campaign to create LetterMpress.

You can see more about the process at

Happy 4th of July everyone!

image: USA1-all.jpg


image: USA4.jpg


image: USA5.jpg


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Have you any respect for the flag of the United States? People have died for the freedom to fly this flag. And you and the kids at the Living Letterpress and the LetterM press (a fun project?) show this disrespect for a sacred thing like the flag of the United States! FOR SHAME! You may think it’s cute, but myself and a whole lof of other people think it’s a disgrace!!
And of course you’ve done this on someones Kickstarter dollars, (not mine, thank God!).
‘nuff said!
Stan Pekala, a proud American!

Following are quotes from the United States Code relating to displaying of the Flag!
“No disrespect should be shown to the flag of the United States of America.” Section 8

“The flag represents a living country and is itself considered a living thing.” Section 8j

The laws relating to the flag of the United States of America are found in detail in the United States Code. Title 4, Chapter 1 pertains to the flag; Title 18, Chapter 33, Section 700 regards criminal penalties for flag desecration; Title 36, Chapter 3 pertains to patriotic customs and observances. These laws were supplemented by Executive Orders and Presidential Proclamations.

Paragraph 8, Section g.

The flag should never have placed upon it, nor on any part of it, nor attached to it any mark, insignia, letter, word, figure, design, picture, or drawing of any nature.


Looks Great. Nice concept.


YIKES! I guess Stan and I were posting at about the same time. I consider myself to be a pretty hard-core American. Did two tours in Nam, and I am not offended at all by this.

I guess the fact that this celebrates America must have flown right past him.


Not to mention this isn’t actually an American flag. This is a sheet of paper, with a design that resembles the American flag. Two different things.

This thread is off to a nice start. Wait, so readers shouldn’t assume there is humor in Stan’s post? All in all, the printed piece is well done, an interest to the community and seems like a tasteful 4th of July tribute (50 states). A quick google search will provide many un-tasteful uses.

Damn kids.


Wow, calm down and think for a minute, Stan.This is an utterly respectable tribute to the icon that is the American flag. I never had the honor to serve the country as did Rick (thank you, RIck), but consider myself an extremely proud American regardless. Like Magahurt, I agree that this represents no desecration to The Flag. The American flag is an icon, representing some things in common to everyone, and many individual things to many individual people. Who is to decide for others what we should feel when we see our flag? To create a respectful tribute to it such as this only increases the flag’s meaning and symbolism (ever look at Jasper Johns?). I am much more offended when I see a rack full of tacky t-shirts at Walmart that really do dishonor the flag and what it stands for, or to see some one at a Fourth celebration with a flag literally wrapped around them like an Afghan - a disrespect much more common than the honor shown the flag by Living Letter Press. Think, then react.

if it was printed on a flag it would be a disgrace, but its a nice piece of art made to look like a flag, i don’t think they meant any disrespect.

It’s a lovely graphic tribute to the good old USA - note the states are listed in order of admission.

Huh, I read Stan’s post with with sarcasm.
Good call on Jasper Johns as well emthree

As former military…I get offended when someone comes into this nation and burns our flag, and gets away with it because it’s considered freedom of speech! But I found this flag really interesting.

I don’t see it as desecration of the flag, but of the wood type that was turned upside down to create the stripes. Isn’t anyone here tired of sloppy typesetting and design, and makeready style printing?

I don’t think they are, as you have well surmised already there is a dearth of printers who are truly interested in fine printing. Even fewer who are coming into niche printing that have interest in learning how to kiss imprint versus smash, how to work with the grain of the paper or understand the impact of humidity.

I have witnessed the same thing in the fine arts community. Where idea is more important than craft but, if the idea is strong and the craft is weak, that piece is a failure. Likewise if the idea is weak and the craft is strong, still a failure. There is a delicate balance between the two and printing isn’t any different.

To all who value freedom:

In Babakiueria [for those who know the joke, otherwise Oystraylya] we have people who would agree with each of the sentiments expressed here; we respect them, and we respect the divergence of opinion in USA. Because of ceremonies connected with a memorial to USA servicemen lost in WW2, near my hometown, we have come to better understand the emotions surrounding the flag.

But I thought it odd that a US serviceman on formal, solemn parade at one of the ceremonies, representing his country, was chewing gum. I know “When in Rome, do as the Romans do” but when there are mixed emotions, please try to cater for all tastes? At another year’s ceremony, we had an Australian Sergeant giving the orders, I think he could compete with any other drill-sergeant in any army of the world; and I have never seen anyone else’s jaw so far open while he was shouting the orders, and only once so red a face compared to his face as he exerted himself to make his orders heard for a considerable distance. ‘nuff sed!


Stan’s likely joking .
I don’t think his hair is actually on fire.

I expect he understands the difference between
a US flag and a representation of a US flag.

And this representation clearly celebrates
rather than desecrates our national banner.
Stepping on our right to free expression
is far more damaging to our values & traditions
than anything you can do to our flag.

Good going, “Kids”.

who said Stan has hair??

At least people fly yours the right way up .!

Wow! I didn’t expect this!

I couldn’t tell if Mr. Pekala was being cynical, or if this was the equivalent of “Get off my grass you kids!” So I asked him directly. (see below)

Everyone has a point of view. I’m glad most on this site don’t see our effort as being disrespectful.

The “kids” are proud to be American’s too.

Begin forwarded message:

Subject: Briar Post
Date: July 3, 2012 12:50:19 PM CDT
To: [email protected]

Yes, I’m serious, as I could make jest a whole lot easier than looking up the rules for displaying “Old Glory”!
A flag is a flag, is a flag; on paper, silk, linen or whatever. They all deserve the same respect.

I am very serious, else I wouldn’t be quoting the US Code…
Paragraph 8, Section g.

The flag should never have placed upon it, nor on any part of it, nor attached to it any mark, insignia, letter, word, figure, design, picture, or drawing of any nature.

If someone wants to interpret that any other way, that’s their privilege!

Very proud to be American,

Stan Pekala

**************Comment below is neutered***************
Huh, then based upon that US Code, every single one of our armed service members is in violation, as is every single US military vehicle, every politician who wears a lapel pin, law enforcement uniforms, anyone with a tattoo, NASA space craft, and the list just keeps going on an on an on!!!

Actually upon a second read through there is a significant phrase “The flag should never have PLACED UPON IT…”

This means that emblems, insignia, letter, words, etc aren’t to be emblazoned upon the flag NOT that the flag cannot be placed upon those things.
There is no different interpretation at all to be concerned with either as it is very clear, those things cannot be placed ON the flag, not that the flag cannot be placed on those situations. Additionally, that code subsection does not restrict the creation of the flag through different means.

My previous comment is thus neutered.

“Then we are all in agreed gentlemen, when it is hot we all have the right to bear arms.”

Thank You, Thank You, Brian.

It’s a tough edge to balance on Stan, saying that the code applies to creative works by artists.

Apologies, Stan,
for my presumptuous understanding of your intent.
I have no issue with your right to see it that way.
I just couldn’t imagine anyone actually condemning
this printed flag interpretation as a desecration––
particularly after our nation’s sad heated history
over matters of free speech.

The SCOTUS ruled that US-flag burning
is protected speech, a good while back.

While this is tastless behavior, IMO,
I accept that there are folks who think it
best expresses their POV and we must,
by law, make allowances.

But you’ll need to explain it to me—
what’s so shameful in breaking overturned law?

Shame, perhaps, on the trip-wire shammers.
They’re always lurking and ready
to put the most disturbing spin on our best intended efforts.
No good can come of triggering disapproval
w/o first having all the facts
and sufficient objectivity.

And it’s not like none of us ever do it.
It’s just wrong-headed.

If you respect the first amendment,
we won’t need to reach for our 2nd.


Nice job! I see flag and all I can think is Eddie Izzard:

We stole countries! That’s how you build an empire. We stole countries with the cunning use of flags! Just sail halfway around the world, stick a flag in.
“I claim India for Britain.”
And they’re going, “You can’t claim us. We live here! There’s five hundred million of us.”
“Do you have a flag?”
“We don’t need a bloody flag, this is our country you bastard!”
“No flag, no country! You can’t have one. That’s the rules… that… I’ve just made up! And I’m backing it up with this gun… that was lent from the National Rifle Association.”

Just a followup to close out this discussion on the letterpress flag print…

I had the honor to meet Stan Pekala face-to-face this past weekend at the NAPA/AAPA annual convention, where I was presenting LetterMpress. I was a lot older than he expected, and he was a lot cooler than I expected from out initial interaction on BP :-)

Technology and the internet is great, but nothing beats sitting next to someone, talking to them, and understanding their point of view, by getting to know them as a person and not just a log-in name.

Stan is an excellent typographer and printer (he won two artistic awards that night), has a wealth of knowledge, and is a great person. I consider myself lucky to have gotten to know him.

Thanks Stan!

image: Stan Pekala and John Bonadies at the NAPA/AAPA annual convention, July 28, 2012.

Stan Pekala and John Bonadies at the NAPA/AAPA annual convention, July 28, 2012.

John, did you say “Just a follow-up to close out this discussion on the letterpress flag….”?
Not that easy John, I’ve got to sneak in the last word…

John, it was indeed a pleasure to meet you and have some time to talk with you, and actually see what you youngsters are doing to preserve art of letterpress. I was very much impressed and amazed with your presentation.

Thanks for all your kind words. Good luck in all your endeavors.

PS. to dickg: See, I do have hair!

Nice shirt, Stan (and hair)

So what’s the final word? Does he think that print is a horrible disgrace, or what?