Let’s See That Printed: Eleonore Lee’s Printing Tribute to Freddie Mercury

Sometimes the words on a person’s platemaking order just leap off the page and catch our attention. That was true with Eleonore Lee’s curving and falling text layout. Add in that they were lyrics by Queen’s Freddie Mercury and we just “had to see that printed”.  We hope this strikes a chord with you too.

Eleonore Lee's "Lover Of Life, Singer of Songs" fine art print tribute to Freddie Mercury of Queen strikes a chord with the heart.
Eleonore Lee's "Lover Of Life, Singer of Songs" fine art print tribute to Freddie Mercury of Queen strikes a chord with the heart.

In spring 2017, the Fine Press Book Association sent out a call for entries for their annual fundraising portfolio.  Since I already had a huge project to complete before heading off on a trip, it seemed fitting to add another project to my docket.  

Eleonore Lee's "Lover Of Life, Singer of Songs" fine art print tribute to Freddie Mercury of Queen strikes a chord with the heart.

This project was especially enticing as it would support their fine press journal, Parenthesis, and the portfolio would be shared among other printers. Last year was a year in which I was re-discovering myself after a good decade of hardcore parenting. An exchange portfolio would allow others to discover me too.

Eleonore Lee's "Lover Of Life, Singer of Songs" fine art print tribute to Freddie Mercury of Queen strikes a chord with the heart.

Like a lot of printmakers, I am a sucker for exchange portfolios. Something I particularly appreciate about letterpress and handmade paper exchanges is that they are a lot more lenient about format. The parameters for this portfolio were generous … produce 125 prints. Within these parameters, it was definitely possible to consider a less likely subject matter.

If you do not know, most often Fine Press work has a tendency to publish known and lauded dead poets. Always the contrarian, I felt like shaking it up a little with less-predictable words. My work aims to ask questions or bring attention to something you might not usually notice.  

Because music means so much to me, I have been considering making art about the music that pervades my life. Whilst at work I am known as “that person who wears their headphones and sings out loud”.  One epic late night, two BFA students and I had a lot of paper to make. We loudly sang through 2 CDs of Queen’s Greatest hits. That was my inspiration.

Eleonore Lee's "Lover Of Life, Singer of Songs" fine art print tribute to Freddie Mercury of Queen strikes a chord with the heart.

I was not a huge Queen fan in my youth, finding Freddie overwhelmingly exuberant. However, I grew into Queen. I learned the lyrics intimately in the same way that I spend a lot of time with the poems I work with. Singing along both joyfully and studiously, so that I could be as accurate as possible with the pacing and the sounds. By including the breaths, the uh’s and drawn out syllables, the project was most enjoyable.

I also revelled in the details: The paper is Neenah’s Flash Pearl Starwhite. Not only is it shiny pearlescent like some of Freddie’s leggings, but it also covers Flash, for Flash Gordon’s theme song, by Queen.

The font is Montserrat. Freddie had a dream to perform with and finally collaborated with Montserrat Caballé on the album Barcelona. And of course, I did my research: Freddie loved red and yellow, bold loud colors. The rhythm of the song is included in the yellow and red dots. They are foam dots, with 2” dots representing a full beat, 1” dots a half beat and ½” dots a ¼ beat.

I wanted a mix of more iconic images of Freddie as well as images from his videos. I chose the song because the lyrics combined with the video spoke volumes about Freddie.

He lived flamboyantly and boldly in public, at a time when being gay was a crime in most countries. In ‘I want to Break Free’ the band appears dressed as working class women. We first see Brian May wake up, with curlers in his hair, very rapidly followed by a hairy arm wearing bangles brandishing a vacuum. After a few swipes, all of Freddie scurries out boldly, staring right at the camera and gives us a brief, contented smirk before proceeding with some very sexy vacuuming (to the music). He dances and sings and winks appearing to enjoy himself a lot. It may seem run-of-the-mill today. It was bold back then, especially for a shy, cat-loving man wrestling with his sexuality. All of these words and images worked well on the tri-fold design I had in mind.

Eleonore Lee's "Lover Of Life, Singer of Songs" fine art print tribute to Freddie Mercury of Queen strikes a chord with the heart.

Although the images have enough small details and fine lines, I would never have attempted type with such fine details so I thank Boxcar Press for the plates. They also provided a fine press discount on the plates for this project.  

I hope others in this exchange enjoyed this project as much as I did envisioning and printing it.
You can learn more about Eleonore’s project with Parentheses at  FPBA.com.




Printing Reality with Lauren Emeritz of Abstract Orange

Graphic designer & printer Lauren Emeritz creates brilliantly colored fine artists books & punchy prints. Lauren talks about teaching printing at an area Community Art Center, creating artists books, and introducing many to letterpress at events in the Capitol area.

FOR THE LOVE OF LETTERPRESS  

I am a graphic designer, letterpress printer, and book artist in Washington, DC and have always loved type and printing. While attending the University of Delaware, they were beginning to set up a print shop. I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to print. Now Pyramid Atlantic Art Center is my go-to print place.

Emeritz Lauren ( Washington, D.C. ) letterpress prints beautiful hand-crafted fine editions artists books.

(Letterpress Demo at the Smithsonian Solstice Saturday Event)

PRINT FOR THE COMMUNITY

I print at the amazing community art center – Pyramid Atlantic Art Center (PAAC). Unique to the DC-area, PAAC offers workshops on how to learn to print, and the rental of presses to print on your own. I discovered PAAC at their Biennial Book Arts Fair. This fair is home to beautiful art made by hand. But ultimately, this created a spark in me to reconnect with making art by hand. 

Emeritz Lauren ( Washington, D.C. ) letterpress prints beautiful hand-crafted fine editions artists books.

ART ON THE HILL

I live in DC, so there is lots of cool artsy stuff. I love the Smithsonian Art Museums, the National Gallery of Art, the Library of Congress — they have so much amazing art and printed pieces! The Library of Congress was on my bucket list for a number of years. I finally made it there for an American Printing History Association (APHA) event. It was awesome and now I try to go back every couple of months. 

PRINTING MENTORS

Ray and Jill at Lead Graffiti do cool work and love to share their knowledge. Vince Frost is a graphic designer who used a lot of wood type in his designs. When I teach at Pyramid I get inspired by the people in class. I get to share my passion for letterpress: type, ink, paper, and printing with people who may love it too or may not have done it before. It is always fun to see new ideas and the directions people explore.

I did an internship at Hatch Show Print in December 2017 and it was wonderful to have access to so much wood type — one of the first things that I loved about letterpress. The people were so creative and friendly and the shop was AMAZING – I highly recommend a journey there! I would love to go back for an artist residency sometime. 

Emeritz Lauren ( Washington, D.C. ) letterpress prints beautiful hand-crafted fine editions artists books.
Emeritz Lauren ( Washington, D.C. ) letterpress prints beautiful hand-crafted fine editions artists books.

PART TIME PRINTER, FULL TIME FUN

My primary job is as a graphic designer for my company Abstract Orange. I enjoy printing and I do it mostly for fun. While I would love to do it full-time, I am concerned that if I printed commercially it might lose the satisfaction. Teaching at Pyramid keeps me fresh and experimenting. When I letterpress now, I use a combination of techniques. For small text and logos I usually use polymer. For hand-drawn type I usually carve linoleum or wood blocks. Each process has it advantages and I try to be intentional in my process, using the one that will best suit my goals for the project.

PRINTING FEATS

I made a Hand-Carved Alphabet book that I sold to the Library of Congress. At one of the APHA events, I sold my book to their special collections. It was one of the most exciting and validating events in my life. I started the project several years earlier without any particular goals or directions. Through a series of events, the book ended up in a show on a table next to works by Edward Gorey and Frederic Goudy! As a type nerd, Goudy has a special place in my heart!

I picked-up my bookmaking skills from a number of places along the way.  I started with different portfolio books at University of Delaware; workshops at Hamilton Wayzgoose; Ladies of Letterpress conferences, New York Center for the Book, GW Corcoran, and AIGA DC. The bookbinding associates at PAAC are always amazing and helpful.

Emeritz Lauren ( Washington, D.C. ) letterpress prints beautiful hand-crafted fine editions artists books.

(This is the artist book I carved, printed, bound and sold to the Library of Congress. (uses polymer for the colophon page)

PRESS HISTORY

My first press was probably my hands. I loved making rubbings. I own a Vandercook 99 (that is one without an inking system). My Vandercook 99 lives in my basement. I print on it sometimes, usually small runs or irregular things you couldn’t print on a larger Vandercook, such as round coasters. I have also used it for printing demos/workshops at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Renwick Gallery, and Shop Made in DC. Because it is smaller and only 110 lbs, it is fairly portable for demos.

Emeritz Lauren ( Washington, D.C. ) letterpress prints beautiful hand-crafted fine editions artists books.

BOXCAR PRESS’ ROLE

Boxcar Press really revolutionized letterpress printing. I realized at some point that things were being letterpress printed using fonts that were more modern than lead type. Next, I figured there had to be a way to print modern computer designs on the letterpress — and I found Boxcar Press! I love the merging of old and new technology and combining my computer design skills with hands-on printing techniques. I tell my students who are interested in polymer to check out Boxcar Press because they “invented the system” we use to print polymer.

FAVORITE INK COLOR

At the moment, I have been printing some neon orange lately. It is lots of fun!

Emeritz Lauren ( Washington, D.C. ) letterpress prints beautiful hand-crafted fine editions artists books.

WHAT’S NEXT

Very recently, I did a letterpress printing demo with the Smithsonian American Art Museum to celebrate the Solstice. I’ve also taught a Hand-Carved Type Workshop at the Ladies of Letterpress Conference in October 2018.

I am not sure where 2019 will take me, but I am excited about the possibilities! 

Inquisitive Printers Want to Know: Extra Things That Caught Our Eye

This month’s installment of the Inquisitive Printers Want to Know showcases an enjoyable animated video short “Typesetter Blues” and today’s Mars-bound InSight probe. Read on to learn more!

From Cathy: How can you not love a title like Typesetter Blues?  Enjoy this short animated video about the fickleness of love in a print shop (Fun Fact: the printer in the video is named “Harold”).

Typesetter-blues-letterpress-printing - inquisitive(photography courtesy of TOGETHER/Pahzit Cahlon)

From Rebecca:  Seven months ago, NASA sent up the Mars-bound InSight probe. Today, the probe is schedule to land on the surface of Mars. The cool little probe has the job of collecting data of Mars’ surface and drilling a hole 5 meters (16.4 feet) down.

Mars_insight_probe-NASA(photography credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

The data will be able to help scientists understand the creation of Mars and its geological landscape evolution.

2018 Seattle Children’s Hospital Broadsides: Part 2

Part two in this year’s Broadside blog series highlights more of the beautiful art prints from the printers and writers who came together in the 2018 Seattle Children’s Hospital Broadsides project. The Writers in the Schools program (WITS – a poetry program created by Sierra Nelson and Ann Teplick), the School of Visual Concepts, and long-term patients at Seattle Children’s Hospital all joined creative forces to produce original stories that come to life in beautifully crafts printed works. Sarah Kulfan reflects on this year’s printing experience of adding in fun & color to their special young writer’s words.

“I am always blown away by the talent and commitment of our young poets and this group of printers. Many have been involved with this project every year. Its an honor to be a part of this amazing collaboration. I am grateful for the support of business partners like Boxcar Press who help fuel this creative endeavor from the beginning.”

2018 Childrens Broadsides -IMG12018 Childrens Broadsides

Sarah Kulfan

There are a couple of lines from the poem by Amanda Longees, Age 11, titled Beliefs, that inspire the forest and tree theme illustrations. My goal was to create a broadside that was bright and optimistic. In the first print pass, I created a split fountain gradient that represents the rising morning sun. With a design perspective of looking out across the treetops, there is a sense of spiritual uplifting. Which also reflects the title of the poem. 

With the tree element design, it was only natural to include a wood type for the title. I worked with Boxcar Press to create plates for the poem and colophon.

Sarah Kulfan Boxcar Press 2018 Seattle Children's Broadsides

The reduction cut process includes a total of 4 colors. Each color is a successive layer that is carved from the same block.

Sarah Kulfan Boxcar Press 2018 Seattle Children's Broadsides

The colors typically go from light to dark. This year’s challenge for myself was to print a full bleed and a gradient on a portrait style broadside. Which includes several rounds of careful trimming, and maxing out my press’ sheet size in order to make that directional gradient work.

Sarah Kulfan Boxcar Press 2018 Seattle Children's Broadsides

The talent and commitment of our young poets and group of printers are impressive. It is an honor to be a part of this amazing collaboration effort. I am grateful for the support of business partners like Boxcar Press – who help fuel this creative endeavor from the beginning.

Heidi Hespelt

This year’s broadside design illustrates a poem written by Ella Joy Won, Age 7, titled The Secret Place. Ella is a “sparkly girl,” and the design reflects this through the incorporation of bright colors and metallic inks. The printing of the poem starts with text which uses polymer plates from Boxcar Press. Next, is the artwork. This piece, in particular, there were 7 passes through the press. The press used a large reduction linoleum block that carves away sections of the block between each color pass.

Heidi Hespelt 2018 Seattle Children's Broadsides Boxcar Press

Printing silver over a blue background for the first cut on reduction block. Carving away the things that I want to stay medium blue and then next is the teal layer…

Heidi Hespelt 2018 Seattle Children's Broadsides Boxcar Press

Next, printing the gold pass. Followed by mixing ink for the purple coloring for its pass. Finally, I will print the text and trim the paper.

Heidi Hespelt 2018 Seattle Children's Broadsides Boxcar Press

Amy Redmond

As a letterpress instructor at the School of Visual Concepts, it’s a real joy to see students evolve from fledgling ink slingers into skilled printers, and this Broadside project represents a milestone in that journey. There are many new names on this project’s list of printers this year, but by no means are they new to the press. This year the stars finally aligned for them to join this kind-hearted & generous group, raising the bar of talent even higher than before.

Amy Redmond letterpress Seattle Children's Broadsides project.(Above: Photo courtesy of “Carrie Radford / Radford Creative”)

When first reading, A Lion by Rowan Delloway, Age 6, I was struck by how much power just a few words carry. Looking beyond the face value of his admiration of a lion, I interpret the lines “so you don’t run from anything / because no one can hurt you” as representing Rowan’s own fierce determination and strength. This concept was my guide through the design process to include bold elements and a careful use of color.

Amy Redmond letterpress Seattle Children's Broadsides project.(All other photography courtesy of Amy Redmond.)

It would be easy to show the lion’s power through a literal translation of Rowan’s words. However, after making some quick thumbnail sketches, I chose to illustrate it through a display of calm confidence.

The lion may be at rest — claws in, tail curled around its body — but its one watchful eye says, “Think twice before you make your move.” I imagine it protecting Rowan, watching over him… ready to pounce and unleash that power upon any threat to his well-being. The first rough layout sketch was effortless. In contrast to how my process usually goes. When looking back at my choice to sketch on top of make-ready tells me I really didn’t expect that to happen.

Amy Redmond letterpress Seattle Children's Broadsides project.

I wasn’t sure if I would be able to capture that energy if I redrew it again. Instead, I used a thick charcoal pencil to rework the sketch on top of the original. When I removed the tape that was masking my margins and lifted the page from the table, I got a kick out of seeing my make-ready for Zack Edge’s poem (from the 2016 portfolio).

Amy Redmond letterpress Seattle Children's Broadsides project.

Moving on to typesetting, first I started with the easiest part: LION! Big and bold, the size alone limited my choices. Next, I selected a Latin wood type that when aligned to the right margin of my sketch. This left just enough room for the body text and colophon. Also, it also gave me the excuse to use the Latin Wide metal type in my collection. Typically, this is not a face I would normally choose for body text. Due to the short nature of the poem made it feels safe enough to try. I’m delighted that it worked!

Amy Redmond letterpress Seattle Children's Broadsides project.

By this point, my typesetting was complete for the day even though the colophon wasn’t done. This is my 8th year contributing to the broadside project. And my first year contributing by carving an image from linoleum. For those who are familiar with linoleum, it cuts the smoothest when warmed by the sun. Lucky for me, Seattle was having an unusually warm sunny spell in May. Time to move outside.

I usually shy away from carving. However, I had a strong vision of a bold and graphic piece, that I went for it. For the first time in over 20 years, I invested in a new set of carving tools. I also made sure to purchase extra blocks, just in case of a few errors. Careful viewers can see, right out of the gate, I forgot to reverse my image before carving.

Amy Redmond letterpress Seattle Children's Broadsides project.

On the second carving attempt, I decided to slow down and take a proof before moving forward with the paws and tail. The placement needed to be just right in order for the type to work. Refreshed by a new day, I also finished typesetting the colophon and proofed that as well. Out came the scissors and tape and Sharpies.

Amy Redmond letterpress Seattle Children's Broadsides project.

Paw and tail position decided, the remainder of the lion carving went well with only a few minor slip-ups. The sun was having a positive effect on my outlook, and I decided I could live with a few wayward marks. I moved back into the studio, locked it up, and printed the first run on my Colt’s Armory platen press.

Amy Redmond letterpress Seattle Children's Broadsides project.

With the lion in place, I now had a map from which I could now measure all future passes. I locked up the first form, gave the type a good scrub, and ran the second pass. (Shiny clean type is so satisfying.)

Amy Redmond letterpress Seattle Children's Broadsides project.

In a fit of stubborn efficiency, I decided to print the lion’s eye color with the last line of the poem (“LION!”), in one final pass of orange ink. To guarantee perfect alignment, I mounted a small rectangle of uncarved linoleum to a piece of furniture, made it type high, and composed it with the wood type.

Amy Redmond letterpress Seattle Children's Broadsides project.

Taking measurements of the lockup from the text printed in black, I was able to lock up this new form in the exact location in needed to be. Without changing my page guides on the tympan, I then pulled a blind proof on a still-wet print from the second pass to confirm that the text aligned as I wanted. The black eye of the lion offset onto the uncarved linoleum, revealing exactly where I needed to carve. I added a little trapping as a safety measure, in case some of my earlier prints had shifted alignment in the run.

Amy Redmond letterpress Seattle Children's Broadsides project.

This small series of careful acrobatics worked well, and I’m pleased with the final print. I hope others see in its design what I see in Rowan’s words. “That underneath his joyful and seemingly wild exuberance lies a trained force of powerful inner strength.”

Amy Redmond letterpress Seattle Children's Broadsides project.

 

Come check out Part 1 of this year’s Children’s Broadsides project!  We would like to thank all of our young writers, organizers, printers, and families who help make the 2018 Broadsides project memorable and powerful.

File Prep Tip: Pricing Previews for TIF files

Today’s tip is for designers and printers who set up and create their files in Photoshop for platemaking orders.

Our online ordering system can calculate your square inches and pricing for files that are .pdf, .ai, and .eps.  This is so helpful for seeing your costs while creating your ticket.  However, the online system doesn’t do that for .tif files.

We love .tif files from Photoshop, but saving to a PDF in Photoshop can change your black and white file to a rasterized RGB (oh, the horror!).   With the .tif, you see a big fat $0 for cost and that can make some nervous.

Here is a quick suggestion to handle that situation.  Save your .tif with one of the below methods with the words – for pricing only – in the file name and upload it to your job ticket with your tif.  We’ll get a working tif file and you’ll get your price.

Pricing TIFF file letterpress plates for Boxcar Press.

Best ways to do this:

From Photoshop:

Select FILE > SAVE AS > PHOTOSHOP EPS (under Format drop down).

Using Adobe Acrobat Pro:

Select FILE > OPEN. When the window opens, at the bottom the default is Show > Adobe PDF Files. Change to All Files to find your tif.  Choose Open.  Now select FILE > SAVE AS > the Save as PDF window will open > save with pricing only file name.

If you have other programs for saving as a PDF that you’d like to use, contact us and we can help you, if needed.

Boxcar Press Open Studio 2018

If the action and rhythmic noise of heavy metal does it for you, the Boxcar Press Open Studio is a great place to be.  Cast iron letterpress machines that thump, clang and ker-chunk will be on display for free tours on Saturday, November 10th from 10 AM – 4 PM.  This family-friendly event has printing demonstrations, crafts, a giveaway, workshop, and paper sales of Smock Paper products.

Boxcar Press celebrates their 20th anniversary this year and welcomes all to step up close to view our presses that weigh over 2,000 plus pounds.  We print on all cotton paper to make beautiful invitations.  Print shop tours on this day will let you see this in action.

In honor of Veterans day, we will be offering free thank you cards to send to veterans.  For Veterans attending, they will receive a complimentary coaster.  If you are shopping our Smock paper products sale of beautiful boxes, wrapping paper and notebooks, bring a re-usable shopping bag to receive 10% off.

Letterpress is alive and well and happens daily at Boxcar Press, with big spinning wheels and rotating windmill arms.  Visit to enjoy the sights and sounds of our print shop.

Open Studio Boxcar Press 2018 - IMG1

Open Studio Boxcar Press 2018 - IMG2

Let’s See That Printed: Mindy Belloff of Intima Press’s ‘Minotaur’

We keep tabs on the many wonderful and intriguing designs that come through doors here for our custom-made photopolymer platemaking services. One that we’ve been following for quite some time is Mindy Belloff (of Intima Press)’s highly detailed illustration and creative typesetting designs in her latest fine edition book project.

As a book artist, letterpress printer, and educator, I have been a loyal fan of Boxcar Press, having ordered plates since the beginning of Harold’s enterprises. The staff have always been helpful, especially when polymer platemaking and digital spec instructions were still in their infancy.

During this time, I have sent to Boxcar a wide variety of digital designs of artwork, student work, and job work. A few years ago, as a new livre d’artiste was in the works, they took notice of the beginning of the work. As I firmed up designs and sent a flurry of large plate orders, I was asked about the scope of this project as it had piqued their interest. I was happy to share the text, but could not stop production and take time to send images of the various pages, as I was working so intensely, designing by night and printing all day. I had close to 2,000 sheets in my studio in various stages of printing for over a year and a half.

Recently, I was asked by Boxcar to reveal more about the fine edition book I have just released, after two intense years of work, which follows.

The book is titled, “A Golden Thread.” It is 92-pages, in a format of folios, featuring the text of “The Minotaur,” a short story by Nathaniel Hawthorne (1853). It is composed of 100 original drawings, some with hand painting, and 200 press runs, in an edition of 40, printed on cotton rag papers with a sheet size of approximately 15 x 21 inches. It is a contemporary twist on the medieval illumination, letterpress printed on a Vandercook Uni III automatic press.

The story begins in blue and gold ink, with our hero Theseus, as a young boy. As the story unfolds, Theseus grows to be a young man and journeys to Athens to find his father, King Aegus.

Theseus has an unpleasant encounter with the wicked Medea before he finds and is embraced by his father. He soon learns of the fate of seven young men and seven maidens, to be chosen as a sacrifice to the Minotaur, a beast housed in the labyrinth of Crete.  Theseus volunteers to sail to Crete with the youths. (By now, you may recall the details of this tragic myth.)

When the ship arrives in Crete, the evil King Minos throws them in the dungeon, to await their fate. Enter the heroine, Ariadne, who secretly releases Theseus and leads him to the entrance of a maze.

The middle section of the book, as Theseus makes his way through the labyrinth to find the Minotaur, is designed with typography that blankets the page. The plates for this section were, of course, quite large, and many pages were printed on one side of the sheet, and then turned (plates and paper), to accommodate the sheet size. Most pages have 5 to 6 press runs each.

In the third and final section of the book, Theseus emerges victorious, having slain the bull-headed Minotaur monster. Our heroine awaits, still holding the golden thread at the entrance to the maze. Theseus and the other 13 youths sail back to Athens, where they encounter more obstacles and tragedy, as expected in a classic Greek myth.

On the final page of the story, our hero becomes King. Below is an image of the page showing two of the four-color press runs, which includes ornamented initials, and border drawings.

The book is hand sewn and beautifully bound with a blue leather spine and gold gilding.

Mindy received a fine press book discount for her entire project for the plates Boxcar Press created.  We appreciate her giving us a sense of her book “A Golden Thread” with words and photos.  Mindy Belloff produces fine letterpress printed book and broadside editions at her Union Square studio under the imprint Intima Press. Her artist’s books have been included in many publications and she received an award for Excellence in Book Design.

You can visit Mindy’s website for more on the Minotaur edition at Intimapress.com.

CBAA: Broadening Book Arts Opportunities

Boxcar Press is a proud supporter of letterpress printed short-run books.  We offer a 10% discount for fine press work and encourage all printers to explore projects like this.   Many printers are first introduced to book printing through their academic experience at college.  It is very likely their instructors were members of the College Book Art Association (CBAA).  Bridget Elmer, President of the CBAA,  provides an overview of this organization and the numerous options to members and those interested in the printed fine press book.     

A relatively new art form, artists’ books constantly defy a clearcut definition, as do their makers. While some books incorporate letterpress printing for text and image, others might incorporate screen printing, hand lettering, digital printing, or no printing at all. Similarly, their bindings may be in a traditional codex format, a series of broadsides, or a one-of-a-kind altered book. Teaching students both the history and methods of making artists’ books is a unique and evolving challenge.

The College Book Art Association (CBAA) is a non-profit organization committed to the teaching of book art. The association strives to support education about book art, including both the practice and analysis of the medium. It welcomes as members everyone involved in teaching and all others who have similar goals and interests. In addition to the educational community of teachers and students, CBAA’s over 400 members include academic librarians, curators, independent scholars, museum professionals, international private collectors, and practicing artists.

CBAA membership has many benefits, including project assistance and travel grants that are awarded to artists, teachers, and scholars, as well as scholarships for students and recent alumni that are co-sponsored by a growing list of partners including Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts, Mills College, the Morgan Conservatory, Wells College, and Women’s Studio Workshop. CBAA fosters book art visibility and community engagement by organizing member exhibitions and regional events. CBAA also cultivates the expansion of book art criticism by publishing the scholarly journal, Openings: Studies in Book Art, and facilitates dialogue on the Book Art Theory blog. Finally, members have the chance to convene in person every year by attending CBAA’s annual meetings and conferences.

In 2019, CBAA will hold their biennial meeting in Tucson, Arizona from January 4–5 at the University of Arizona. Themed The Photographic Artist’s Book, this meeting is an interdisciplinary landmark for CBAA—keynote speaker Christina de Middel will discuss the ways her work blends documentary and conceptual photographic practices, and discussion sessions will explore topics including Printing Photographic Images Using Letterpress. Participants will tour the UA Book Art and Letterpress Lab and a multi-venue exhibition of photo-based artists’ books will be on display at the Joseph Gross Gallery in the UA School of Art and at the internationally known University of Arizona Poetry Center. Registration opens soon for this exciting opportunity to learn more about CBAA and the history and contemporary practice of photo-based artists’ books.

CBAA’s 2020 biennial conference will be held in New Orleans, Louisiana from January 2–5 and hosted by a dynamic collaborative of academic institutions and community-based organizations, including Tulane University, Loyola University, Baskerville, and Paper Machine, among others. With a theme of Intersections, the conference program will aim to expand the discussion of book arts and foster an inclusive field that embraces both academic and independent educational programs, welcoming ideas that come from all races, classes, genders, and levels of education.

Allison Chapman and Why She Loves Letterpress – Printing Passed On

Letterpress leaves a lasting impression on a young printer who now loves to kindle this spark in others. Allison Chapman, of Ohio-based Igloo Letterpress, shares with us how a family tradition lives on in her press shop and how she came to love letterpress.

I was lucky enough to learn about letterpress printing from my grandad, Mark Gibson.  He became a hobby printer in the 1960s after finding a Johnson Peerless platen press in a neighbor’s barn.  He restored the press, joined the Amalgamated Printer’s Association and was hooked.  As his “assistant” growing up, I loved to help with whatever projects he was working on.  I soon had a small toy press that I could use while he was printing.  As a kid, I loved letterpress because of the sound of the press running, the smell of ink and paper and the pleasure of repetitive tasks.

As soon as I got to college I realized how special the time in his print shop had been.  I took every printmaking class and started making up independent projects so that would allow me continued access to the print studio.  I successfully schemed and created a study away experience that focused on letterpress history.  I began an internship under Elizabeth Harris and Stan Nelson at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History.  At the time there was an amazing demonstration area in the museum where I learned how to knock up ink balls, change the frisket on the common press and fold newspaper hats.

That internship cemented my love of letterpress and of making.  I wanted to read and write about the history of printing, but I also wanted to increase my skills.  I began working at Minnesota Center for Book Arts and learned how contemporary artists were using letterpress and bookbinding.  The 11 years I spent working at MCBA heightened my appreciation for the finer points of the craft.  I became a better printer and bookbinder through the instruction I received and the projects I completed in my home printshop.

A surprise move from Minnesota to Ohio forced me to move the presses out of the house and into a storefront.  This became an accidentally wonderful way to build a community for myself in my new town.  I quickly found an active design community that welcomed Igloo as a print resource.  To build the business I ramped up custom work for local customers and launched a wholesale line at the National Stationery Show.  As production increased I brought in extra hands through talented interns and contractors.  Eventually, I gathered a talented crew of artists and makers to join Igloo’s staff.  Through our work as letterpress printers and bookbinders, we encourage a love of making and an appreciation for fine craft.  Visitors are welcomed to see the presses in action as they shop in our store and are encouraged to stop & make a journal at our book bar or sign up for a class to create their own project.

After 22 years of collecting and teaching, I still love letterpress and find joy in making something new every day.

Smitten for letterpress? We’d love to hear from you! Share your story in the comments below!

Rob LoMascolo: The Call of Letterpress

We enjoy hearing from wonderful members of the letterpress community on how the printing tradition has inspired them to their true calling. Aurora, NY-based Rob LoMascolo of The Press of Rob LoMascolo shares with us on why he is smitten with the printing tradition.

Why do I love letterpress? Letterpress appeals to me on many levels, but I think it is the tactility of it that appeals foremost to many of us. You can feel and see the difference. When looking at crisply printed type with just a slight bite into the paper one gets the sense that each and every letter is a physical thing, not a digital recreation of a thing, but every letter is a real actual thing that is very much part of that printed sheet.

My mom likes to tell people that in first grade we kiddos were all asked what we wanted to do when we grew up. Most of my classmates wanted to be athletes, firefighters or follow in their parent’s footsteps, but I wanted to own my own museum!

Yup, visitors always say my shop is like a working museum. Letterpress combines my loves of history, art, design, books, old machines, and above all, it has a realness about it that is lacking from so much of our digital world.

As much as I love letterpress for all those reasons, the reason I do it is simply because I have not found any better way.