Award #23: Tip Type

The study of language and objects looms large in the life of local artist Brandon Boan, who currently lives and works in Wilkinsburg. Recently dedicating himself to the practice of typesetting and lithography, Boan plans to have a working linotype shop with photo lithography capabilities up and running by next year. Brandon named the shop “Tip Type” and will carry on the practice of “hot metal type” started by his friend and mentor, Rudy Lehman.

Rudy Lehman ran his business, Lehman Typesetting, in Wilkinsburg from 1957 until his death in January 2013. His shop housed a complete and classic working Linotype machine, a rarity in modern America. Following Rudy’s death, Rudy’s family told Brandon that metal scrappers were coming to haul away the Linotype equipment in the shop. Brandon asked them to please cancel that plan. Rudy’s wife, who is a graphic designer by trade, was delighted that someone wanted to save the shop and ever since that conversation, Brandon has been raising money to buy the shop and the equipment while developing new work to be produced in the space.

Tip Type will be a working Linotype and photo lithography studio, available for projects by artists in Pittsburgh and beyond. Since the learning curve of linotype-casting is quite steep, Brandon attended Linotype University, an intensive course held at the Working Linotype Museum in Denmark, Iowa during the entire month of September. The course was a labor of love and preservation and offered at no cost to people who have the equipment.

Each step of the learning process provided meaningful discoveries for the artist. Brandon explains, “Linotypes are amazing and beautiful machines! The Linotype is sometimes called a typesetting machine, but that term is misleading as it does not set type. It is actually a substitute for typesetting. Strictly speaking, a linotype is a composing machine. Text is molded and cast into printers-metal, and after the printing process, the metal is melted back down and recycled. I am extremely excited to work with this extraordinary and evocative process and to be able to make it available to other artists.”

Awesome Pittsburgh’s $1000 grant will help cover the costs of the Linotype University and will stock Tip Type with consumable materials in preparation for opening to the public in January 2014, the one-year anniversary of Rudy’s death.

Awesome Pittsburgh trustee Ayanah Moor speaks of this project with great enthusiasm: “Rudy Lehman’s Legacy is an awesome idea! Brandon not only preserves the legacy of a mentor and friend but extends his knowledge of technical and artistic skills to support local and visiting artists. The Tip Type project will serve as a wonderful addition to Wilkinsburg.”

To learn more about Tip Type, follow Brandon on Facebook or email him at branshealthy [at]

Jan. 2014 Update: Make sure to stop by Tip Type’s grand opening on Wednesday, February 5 from 7-10pm! The Tip Type team, Wilkinsburg area artists, and Boxcar Press have really helped the shop come alive. Check out the details on the new web site