My *Type* of Hobby

Let the type puns begin! I am so excited to be starting this adventure in my life—letterpress printing. To preface, I come from a family of printers. My great grandparents owned and operated their own print shop, my grandfather worked in that print shop as well as a local newspaper before growing up to own his own printing business, and my mother even dabbled in it when she was younger. Long story short—I was destined for this.

I grew up being familiar with printing, but I never got too hands on with it. Polly Pockets and Nintendogz were much more captivating activities at that age. Sadly, my grandfather retired from printing and purged most of his tools and type before I even realized I wanted to be a designer. So how did letterpress recently spark my interest?

When I visited Kent State as a prospective student four years ago, the Type High Press studio fascinated me. Oh, the possibilities! Once I decided on VCD at Kent, I was determined to take Type High, and no one was going to stop me. So here I am, four years later with my grandfather's vintage pica ruler in hand, thriving in the thick of it. Because I am just a newbie, my progress probably seems minute, but I see nothing but exciting potential.

So far in class, I've made some business cards on a platen press. This week, I finished a woodcut for a "16"-inspired piece that will feature Pope Gregory XVI's papal tiara, which I likely blog about later because those prints are about to look sweet. I decided to forgo my assigned projects for a few class periods to experiment with printing techniques with a quick lockup of a Beyonce lyric, "A diva is a female version of a hustler." Because women empowerment is always fun to print.

I printed on everything from foil to marker paper. Mixing black ink with a little silver gave some pretty cool dimensionality to the type. Sprinkling mineral spirits on areas of the type form made the print look decayed. Reinking only portions of the form resulted in a more distressed print.

I don't know if it's because they actually look cool or that it's a Beyonce lyric, but these prints seem to be pretty popular and that gets me psyched for what's to come. Who knows, maybe this will lead to a lifelong hobby?

PS: During the printing process, my professor, THE Bob Kelemen, proved his knowledge of Beyonce and Jay-Z music, which impressed me to no end. There's nothing more entertaining while cranking out prints than your professor rapping "99 Problems."