Boxcar Talk with Sycamore Street Press

Sycamore Street Press, a husband and wife duo from Heber City, UT, began printing on a Vandercook #3 in their dining room in 2007. Quirky sketches lead to a stationery line, limited edition prints, and collaborations with numerous fine artists. Today, with a more spacious set up, they have been featured on design*sponge and Good Morning America as well as a variety of creative blogs and magazines. They will also be featured in the highly anticipated book, Impressive: Printmaking, Letterpress, & Graphic Design, due to be released in the states in a matter of weeks! Kirk and Eva found time to partake in our cool new blog feature, Boxcar Talk.


What made you want to become an artist?
Drawing was my favorite part of kindergarten, and tole painting with my mom is a favorite early childhood memory. I don’t remember ever not wanting to be an artist.

How did you first get into letterpress?
I studied fine art printmaking during my undergrad years, and really wanted to learn letterpress at that point. Unfortunately it was only available to the graphic design majors. So, when I went to grad school at the University of Utah, learning letterpress was on the top of my list. Marnie Powers-Torrey and the rest of the staff at the Book Arts program were great teachers and mentors. I taught Kirk how to print, and he also took a course through the University of Utah to fill in any gaps I may have missed.

What was your very first press?
A Vandercook #3. I got it in September of 2007 and it’s still the only press that Kirk and I print on. It’s completely hand operated. There isn’t even motorized inking. One of these days, we’ll get a windmill, but this press has really treated us well.


{Image at far right by Zuzanna Audette.}

What medium do you usually print (lead/wood type, photopolymer, lino, etc.)?
Photopolymer plates from Boxcar. I’ve printed with lead and wooden type before, as well as lino cuts and mag cuts, but photopolymer is what we use for our line of paper goods. We love the versatility of it.

What’s your process from sketch to press?
Well, I can’t speak for the other SSP designers (there are 3 other regular contributing designers), but this is my process: I usually have an idea in my head of what I’d like the image to look like. I do a few rough sketches, and then proceed to do a detailed drawing in pencil, which I then go over with pen and ink. I scan the drawing into Photoshop, bump up the contrast, and turn it into a bitmap. I upload my file to Boxcar’s site, and within a week, I receive a photopolymer plate with my drawing on it in the mail. We slap that onto our Boxcar base, get it all positioned, and start to print.


What other print shops do you admire?
I am constantly amazed by the technical prowess of Studio on Fire. Their blog is full of useful tips and information about printing.

Dee & Lala and Dutch Door Press are both smaller operations with two full time partners who design and print their own line of stationery (kind of like us!). We see both companies pretty often at craft shows, and they always have beautiful work.

Mandate Press is another Utah-based studio who does great work…I guess I’ll stop there, but I could go on and on. There are so many wonderful letterpress studios out there!


Who or what inspires you the most?
I wrote a really in depth post on this a couple of months ago as part of SFGirlByBay’s Blog it Forward project. Here’s the shortened version: the creative people in my family, the traditional Maori art of Ta Moko, folk art from all over, contemporary artists (such as Kiki Smith, Jockum Nordstrom, and Margaret Kilgallen), the letterpress process and its limitations, my good friend’s dogs, and my time spent studying and living in France and Belgium.

What are your favorite things/items from Boxcar Press?
Definitely the plates and the base.


Any cool printing tricks you can share?
If the piece of paper I’m printing on is too small to reach the gauge on the feed board, I cut up an old plastic credit card, membership card, etc… and tape a strip of it onto the cylinder packing to act as a guide instead. This comes in handy for smaller size envelopes as well.

What are you looking forward to?
Kirk and I are currently in New York. We’re here for an entire month, selling our goods at the National Stationery Show, the Brooklyn Flea, and the Renegade Craft Fair. We are so excited for the shows – we love meeting our customers face to face. We are also looking forward to taking some time to explore different neighborhoods, museums, shops, etc…around the city. On a more personal note, Kirk and I are having our first baby in November! We are over the moon about this and can’t wait to meet the little one!


Thanks Kirk and Eva! Congratulations on the little one on the way – we can’t wait to see the baby announcements!

{Photos by Sycamore Street Press unless otherwise noted.}

Boxcar Press letterpress plates spotted in…

We spotted Boxcar Press recently in:

*The Creativity Room (very cute calling cards for a big-sister-to-be)
*a sweet shout-out from Sycamore Press (we’re thrilled to be in their list of businesses that earned their loyalty, along with Green Paper Company and a cafe with the best veggie burgers in the world — cool!).

Thanks, letterpress friends!

Sycamore Street Press (and Boxcar Base!) on Design*Sponge

Boxcar Base design sponge

Go letterpress love! Congrats to Syracuse Street Press for this great write-up in Design*Sponge. We loved seeing Sycamore’s beautiful home interior, and their beautiful Vandercook, and their beautiful printing, and (gasp!) their beautiful Boxcar Base! We’re in Design*Sponge (kind of) — hooray! See more of Sycamore Street Press’ letterpress magic at their web site: (photo from design*sponge)