How I got into Letterpress

Steel Petal Press - Chicago Letterpress Demo

I recently had someone ask me via social media how I got into letterpress and what advice I had for someone looking to learn.  I thought I’d share my thoughts here too!

I’ve had a lot of formal training in letterpress.  I first learned while in my undergrad degree I took a book making class for 1 year.  After graduating with a BFA in I was immediately accepted to a six-month internship at Women’s Studio Workshop in Rosendale, NY. There I studied silk screening, letterpress, and papermaking, while maintaining the studios and assisting the artists-in-residence and staff. I went on to assist various artists and curators in Washington DC and the San Francisco Bay Area. I also continued to volunteer regularly at Pyramid Atlantic Art Center and the San Francisco Center for Book Arts.

Steel Petal Press - Chicago Letterpress Demo

Later on I relocated to Chicago to work towards my MFA in book and paper art at Columbia College Chicago.  (I never finished my degree but that’s where Steel Petal Press was born)
My first semester in Chicago I Steel Petal Press as a side project from my classwork.  I started by printing holiday cards to send to friends and family living far away. After printing my letterpress projects for school, I would use the school’s studios to print personal work in my spare time. I found stores to sell any extra cards I had printed, and the company grew from there.
For someone looking to get into letterpress, I would start by looking into print shops in your area that might offer workshops or dabble classes.  This is a good way to get your feet wet without committing to school tuition or more competitive internships. If you’re looking for more community and immersion into letterpress try reaching out to a letterpress shop and see if they take apprentices or interns.
Below are a few resources to get you started.
Ladies of Letterpress
Briar Press: (the craigslist of letterpress)

Steel Petal Press - Chicago Letterpress Demo

 

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