In 1963, Luis Ocon left his native Mexico in search of the American Dream. He came to Los Angeles and found work as a linotype operator, the skill he had perfected for many years in Mexico City. Linotype is the process of setting lead slugs, or "hard type" used for the vintage printing process known as letterpress.
In Los Angeles, Luis worked for several typography companies before he found work at Aardvark Typographers. Aardvark, established in 1968, was one of the top typographers in Los Angeles, which also offered letterpress printing, as a small part of its business. Aardvark was located in the old artist's colony near MacArthur Park. In no time, Luis became the lead "lino operator" and in 1978, Luis purchased the business and became the owner of Aardvark Typographers. The typography business was good and Aardvark continued its prominence as a leader in the industry.
As computers made their way into modern business, the age old process of setting "hard type" was being pushed out by cheap, instant computer typesetting. The time-proved process of setting hard type in lead was giving way to the computer age. Luis saw the change on the horizon and realized that he would have to shift the focus of his business from typography to letterpress printing. In 1980, Luis purchased a 100 year old Chandler & Price hand operated printing press and Aardvark Letterpress was born.
The shift from typography to letterpress proved to be a wise one. By 1982, Aardvark Letterpress had become one of the best known letterpress printers in Los Angeles. Aardvark continued to build its reputation as letterpress experts providing unique and distinct letterpress printing for many of Los Angeles' top designers, production studios, museums and artists including Ed Ruscha, Shepard Fairey, LACMA, Oprah Winfrey and many others.
Unlike many "design studios," who are simply jobbers that farm out their printing work to others, Aardvark Letterpress is a true and classic printing business. All of the letterpress printing is performed onsite at Aardvark Letterpress by Luis, his sons Brooks and Cary, and their lead pressman, Bill Berkuta. Aardvark still has the old Chandler & Price, but has added two 10 x 15 Heidelberg windmill presses, a Vandercook and oversized.
Aardvark Letterpress is also unique in that, unlike most letterpress printers, Aardvark has full typesetting capabilities. As former typographers, Aardvark Letterpress still has its own fully operational Linotype machine, two Ludlow typesetting machines, and an extensive collection of hand-set type. Aardvark Letterpress has more than 200 typestyles that can be set "in house" and used in the letterpress job.
Aardvark Letterpress provides high-quality craftsmanship from a bygone era. Every job is unique and, to a large extent, handmade. As a printer to such high-profile clients as Steven Spielberg , Ed Ruscha, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Shepard Fairey, Aardvark Letterpress maintains extremely high standards and works meticulously to ensure that every letterpress piece created is a true work of art.