There is something to the warmth and unique impressions of letterpress which brings out the best in people. Travis Deglow, of Port Paper Co., knows this all too well in the familiar rhythm in his printing abode nestled in his 1-car garage. His daughter (helper and mischief-maker) takes care of filling the shop with laughter and fun in the Canadian shop. Travis takes a break from plastering his walls with all that is letterpress and chats us up about printing principles, dance breaks, and the Vancouver Letterpress League.
BEAUTY AND THE PRINT GEEK Hi, my name is Travis and I’m a print geek. A few years ago my love for paper goods took a sinister turn and developed into a full blown obsession. It was decided the only way to cope with this affliction was to harness its power and start producing my own line of paper products. From this idea Port Paper Co. was born.
THE DECISIVE MOMENT I was working at a commercial print shop here in Vancouver when I came across a business card that had been printed on a letterpress. Everything changed in that moment. It piqued my interest right away and the more I learned about it the more I fell in love, until it consumed me.
The shop I was working at didn’t offer letterpress services but I learned the basic principals of printing from them: Packing, squeeze, ink density and water balance (time to forget this one).
BRILLIANT IN BRITISH COLUMBIA I operate out of a very quaint 1 car garage. The walls are covered in shelves that are loaded with cans of ink, boxes full of paper and the odd storage tote full of seasonal and other household items. All additional wall space is plastered with letterpress samples and other inspiring graphic work. Against the one wall sits my little 19″ Challenge cutter and my workbench that houses Eleanor (5 x 8 Kelsey). At the back of the garage stands Dita (10 x 15 Heidelberg Windmill), the newest member to the team. There is no heat in my little sanctuary but there is a loud stereo and the lack of windows shields my neighbors from my work interrupting dance breaks.
PRINTING MENTORS I don’t know if I have a true mentor. I was fortunate enough to work alongside some great pressman in the commercial shop. I learned a lot from that group. I’m also part of the Vancouver Letterpress League, which gets together once a month. The VLL is a collection of printers and letterpress enthusiasts who meet to share and discuss a variety of print related topics. It’s a great resource. In a way I think we kind of mentor each other as we grow and develop as printers.
DESIGN + PRINT I’m guilty of both charges. Design school is what originally lead me to print and now I have the opportunity to practice both trades.
CREATIVE PROCESS Along with printing full time, I also take care of my daughter during the day. Doing crafts, building with blocks, and hanging out in blanket forts really allows the creativity to flow. When I start a project I outline some base ideas. Over the following couple days, the ideas start to percolate and I start to expand on them. It may not be the most common creative process but it works for me.
FULL TIME FUN I’m lucky enough to be able to print full time and have been doing it for the past year.
PRINTING FEATS To be honest my biggest accomplishment is having the opportunity to hang out with my daughter all day while I develop and grow my dream job.
PRESS HISTORY The story of finding [the press] isn’t very exciting. I was simply scouring the internet looking for printing equipment and came across a listing on Vimeo for a press in Driggs, ID. I had no idea where Driggs, ID was but after a Google search I was pleasantly surprised to find out that it was located just West of Grand Teton National Park and South of Yellowstone. After some discourse with the owner, I hopped in my car, and set out on my first (but not last) letterpress road trip, and a scenic one at that.
BOXCAR’S ROLE I wouldn’t be very far without Boxcar Press. I work from home and have a 3 year old daughter who is often helping me in the studio. From the start, I made a conscious decision to not have any lead in the studio to help reduce her exposure to known toxins. Without access to Boxcar’s awesome plates there wouldn’t be a Port Paper Co. Not to mention all the great advice and support I have received from them over my many phone conversations to Syracuse.
WHAT’S NEXT Starting [this year] in 2014 I plan to focus my attention on expanded my product line into stores via wholesale.
SHOP TIPS That’s tough, there are so many clichés to choose from. I think the only advice I can offer about letterpress printing is to stay calm. There is no amount of violent threats or foul language that can penetrate the stubbornness of old iron. Don’t even bother, believe me, I’ve tried it all.
Huge thanks out to Travis of Port Paper Co. for letting us take a cool peek at his wonderful printshop!