Girlprinter has a great post on doing things for money vs. fun. Her meditation was triggered by a NYT column by Freakonomics authors Stephen J. Dubner and Steven D. Levitt on the question of why so many relatively well-off Americans choose to do menial labor such as knitting, crafting, and cooking.
The whole thing is very relevant to me and how I got back into the whole letterpress thing, as an antidote to my day job as a web developer. The web is all about getting words and pictures published across the globe instantly. It certainly has some good aspects: I can read girlprinter’s post written in Australia without her having to put some piece of paper in the mail, have it take a boat or plane across the pacific, and then take another plane or train to Boston. It is democratic: you don’t have to shell out thousands of dollars to get your words and ideas into the hands of millions.
In comparison, letterpress is very elitist: the means of production is concentrated in the hands of the few. It is mainly practised by and for people who could do things the easy way, but who have the leisure to do things the hard way.
Questions of the socio-politics of letterpress aside, I basically am on board with Dubner and Leavitt’s argument: “Whether or not you’re getting paid, it’s work if someone else tells you to do it and leisure if you choose to do it yourself.” That’s pretty much why the RPP exists, because I’m choosing to do it, because I think it’s fun.
If I happen to break even by selling some stuff here and there, so much the better.