When did you start letterpress printing?:
What do you like best about letterpress printing?:
The sound of fresh ink being distributed on the rollers of a Vandercook. Also, a finished product that is well- and properly inked, with a good impression that hasn't debossed the heck out of the paper. (I'm a purist that way.)
What inspires you?:
All kinds of things. I usually draw from multiple sources for each project I undertake. Mostly I'm inspired by history and the everyday world around me. Whatever topic or subject matter I'm working with on each project also tends to provide a lot of inherent fodder for inspiration—there’s usually a lot of connotations and imagery associated with any particular subject, so I often use that as a starting point. Then there’s often some sort of “pet preference” du jour that I might try to work into a piece—like if I'm really on a Mexican graffiti kick at the moment, or I just read a book that has captured my attention. The list changes almost daily, and I'm always on the lookout for new inspiration.
Which press(es), ink & paper do you usually use?:
I’m always telling people that investing in letterpress equipment is a lot like getting married – you can certainly get out of it, but not without a lot of pain and expense. So until I become a homeowner and won’t have to move again, the only press I actually own is a Kelsey 3 x 5″ platen press, which I generally only use for studio demos. I do the majority of my printing at various local letterpress studios and print shops with whom I have an arrangement. The first press I ever printed on, however, was a Vandercook No. 4 at the Minnesota Center for Book Arts. Since then I’ve printed on a good two dozen different cylinder and platen press models. A benefit of not having a permanent shop is being forced to become proficient with whatever is available. My favorite presses are still Vandercooks No. 219 and Universal One.
As for ink, I'll use whatever is required and best-suited for a given project. I'm most fluent with the Van Son and Gans brands, but I also use Ink in Tubes, Daniel Smith, and other brands. I'll use either oil or rubber (but never both together!), depending on what the piece needs—part of the challenge and the fun is solving that problem and doing a good job of mixing and combining inks.
I most often use Rives Lightweight paper because I hand-watercolor a lot of my prints, and it holds up well for that. The Dead Feminist prints are done on Revere, which I also love, and other papers in my arsenal include Magnani Pescia, Rives BFK, and various handmade papers. I don't drink the Crane Lettra Kool-Aid, though; I can't stand that stuff.
How would you describe your artwork?:
My work generally emphasizes both illustration and original, hand-drawn typography. My images are usually highly detailed, and I am often guilty of painstaking handwork and ridiculously complex multi-color registration.
What kind of products do you create?:
Small-edition artist books, broadsides and illustrated prints, keepsakes, occasional cards and stationery. I also create the collaborative Dead Feminists broadside series with Jessica Spring of Springtide Press.
Do you offer custom work?:
Where can we buy your products?:
Do you offer workshops? If yes, what kind of?:
Occasionally. I'll be teaching an Old School vs. New School letterpress class at Penland School of Crafts with Jessica Spring this summer (August 2012). If you're interested, you can read more at http://www.penland.org/print/index.html I also teach letterpress periodically at the School of Visual Concepts in Seattle, and have taught workshops at the University of Puget Sound, Seattle Center for Book Arts, Pacific Lutheran University, and the Minnesota Center for Book Arts. I often give lectures, artist talks and demos; and frequently give presentations on the Dead Feminists series with my collaborator, Jessica Spring (Springtide Press).
Is there anything you wished you had known as a beginner?:
Not all inks are created equal; learn the limitations and best applications for what you're using. Also, never assume that your paper/board/fabric/whatever is square!