Bright pops of color, clean designs, and a hearty dose of whimsical humor can be seen in the letterpress works of Ryan Tempro (and team!) at M.C. Pressure. The Florida-based printer sat down with us to talk shop about Kelsey tabletop beginnings and expanding out with new presses & custom-printed works in tow. Read on to hear about the satisfying pride that goes into seeing the printed pieces being transformed into one-of-kind crafted pieces.
PRINTING IN THE SUNSHINE STATE M.C. Pressure is a print shop in St. Augustine, Florida specializing in letterpress, foil stamping, die-cutting and embossing. I started the company in 2014 after printing a couple years at a small stationery shop while I was in college. We have a lot of capabilities for a small shop. It’s been exciting to see the clients we’ve been able to work with and the creative things they come up with! We also design and create our own line of products that range from greeting cards to coasters to notepads and more.
INK IN THE BLOOD I first learned about letterpress and what it was while going through the graphic design department at Flagler College, here in St. Augustine, Florida. I was able to get a job at a local stationery shop operating their 8×12 Chandler and Price. I fell in love with the tactility of letterpress and being able to create something with my hands and away from the computer.
After I graduated from college I spent a summer in New York for an internship with an artist and was exposed to a lot of different print and production methods. When I returned I started a job at a screen printing shop that had an old Kluge for die-cutting decals. My boss saw my interest in the machine and introduced me to a friend of his who was an old timer in town who ran letterpresses for years.
He had a few small tabletop Kelsey presses that needed some work, but had all the parts! I bought them and cleaned them up and started a little shop on the side when I had time and clients. Over the next few years, I grew from a little tabletop press to several larger presses and a full time shop for myself and a couple of employees!
PRINTSHOP PARADISE Our shop is a modest 1300-ish sq/ft warehouse. We have a 30″ Challenge Paper cutter, an Orbital 8 Poly Plate Maker, 2 Heidelberg Windmills 10×15, 1 Heidelberg GTP 13×18, and 1 Heidelberg KSBA Cylinder Press. I love the capabilities we can accomplish with these machines. They are incredible workhorses. Some days they can be very temperamental, but overall they are wonderful and I’m very fortunate to have the machines I do. My favorite is probably the KSBA, it’s such an accurate press in all aspects of register and inking. I’d be lying to say as a printer that I didn’t love to print large, and that press allows us to really work on a larger format.
Our shop is located in St. Augustine, Florida which is the nation’s oldest city. It’s also a pretty small area so the community as a whole has been very accepting and welcoming of us and our small business. St. Augustine has a lot of rich history and a lot of great local makers and restaurants… a lot of which we’ve become friends with over the years. It’s truly a great community to be in support of and help others follow their passions.
CHILL NEIGHBORHOOD We have a city guide online for sale with a lot of our favorite places. The downtown area is where a lot of people visit when they come into town, though it’s also filled with the most touristy things in town. We are off of the West King Neighborhood and we love it! I’d say if you’re in town check out the Blue Hen Cafe for breakfast or SunDay. Dos and The Kookaburra for coffee. Juniper Market for a snack. Really there are so many great spots in town!
PRINTING MENTORS The print community as a whole has been very helpful. I’d say our biggest contacts are Dan over at Clove St. Press. He is probably one of the best I’ve seen, and I have to include Matt at Matte Gold in Australia. They also have GTP Foil Windmills and were a huge help in learning more about that machine specifically. I always love seeing the content and machines running from Studio on Fire and their capabilities are truly incredible. We have a shoutout to Letterpress Mechanic and Chris at FI Letterpress as well for troubleshooting. Really, there are folks all over we keep in touch with and love to see work from.
FULL TIME FUN I started M.C. Pressure in 2014 and worked on it part-time until the beginning of 2017 when I went full-time with it! I can say that I honestly love my job and love what I do.
THE CREATIVE ENERGIES I went to school for graphic design so some things are still designed by me. At the moment though most of my time is spent on press and business admin tasks. We have an employee, Lauren, who focuses the most on graphics for us. She graduated from Flagler College as well. We use a lot of digital processes in the work-flow. We use the Apple iPad and Pencil for a lot of the illustration work and typically finish up type in the computer through the Adobe suite.
We usually think up a funny idea and work on visualizing it. Or we have an image we want to create and work to create a use for it. Sometimes we get feedback from customers on looking for a type of product or more of a certain type of thing and can work to make them. For example, more birthday cards, or something to say I like you, but maybe don’t love you quite yet.
PRINTING FEATS Hmm, I’m always really proud of the packaging projects we work on here. Seeing the printed pieces being cut down and transformed into a three-dimensional object is always so satisfying. Most recently we printed a pretty complex and accurate carton for Hellcats USA for their Devilish Scent. A black outer sleeve with matte red foil and a red tonal letterpress printed on red for the inner carton. It had a cutout that needed to line-up perfectly with the print inside, and assemble to be snug enough to hold itself together. Clark Orr worked on the dieline and he truly nailed it with this project!
PRESS HISTORY Our very first press was a 5×8 Kelsey Table Top. It was a great start, but thank goodness we don’t have to work on such a manual press anymore!
BOXCAR’S ROLE In the early days of us starting out, we used Boxcar Press for all things! We got a set of inks, letterpress base, printing plates, and would use their resources to help figure out how to use the machines we acquired over the years. Though we don’t use Boxcar Press much these days, they were a huge help in getting us started on projects and understanding the things we use.
LETTERPRESS TIPS It isn’t always possible, but I almost always print with crop marks. I know it makes for a larger plate and paper size AND requires trimming. However, It really saves so much time, I think, on press to be able to utilize the grid on the Boxcar Base. It also allows for what I think is easier spotting if things start to bounce or get out of register.
WHAT’S COMING NEXT Over the last couple of years we’ve acquired various pieces of machines. This year we hope to not do that as much and really focus on the things we have to be as streamlined and efficient as possible! We don’t have a dedicated retail space, but we are working on some ideas to change that and hopefully get things out there more in our community!
A double round of applause & thanks out to Ryan Tempro at M.C. Pressure for letting us take a sneak peek at his wonderful plus fun printing realm!