Clear Winner: Jonathan Selikoff, Letterpress Artist

Designer, typographer, and letterpress artist Jonathan Selikoff started his studio Vote for Letterpress in 2010 because he had to.

Selikoff wanted to buy a Vandercook press to add to his weekender print set-up in his garage. “I found one in Ithaca, but there was a catch. It came with a Heidelberg Windmill, a manual paper cutter (old-school guillotine), and a lot of wood and metal type. After checking with the boss (my wife, Lauren), we decided that I’d just buy it all and open up a shop.”

That is the moment when Selikoff’s avocation became his vocation. Today, his letterpress shop includes a Vandercook, a flatbed cylinder press, and a Heidelberg Windmill automated platen press (see this marvel of German engineering here).

Selikoff’s letterpress habit began when he was a 12-year-old boy attending summer camp. “At camp we made stationery using a tabletop press,” he recalls. “I loved it. The seed was planted.” His formal education began at Emory University in Atlanta, where he majored in history. Between his junior and senior years there, he won an internship in the art department of Atlanta Magazine. The experience attracted him to graphic design. After graduating from Emory, he enrolled at Portfolio Center/Atlanta (Miami Ad School and Portfolio Center recently merged). His years there, he says, “were transformative.”

While studying at PC, Selikoff’s fascination with “old school technology” grew. “In art school, a bunch of us loved to visit vintage goods shops around Atlanta. I’d poke through whatever type or printing stuff they had, and ended up buying things I found interesting.” These treasure hunts were the beginning of a fantastic library of objects and letterforms he’d later put to use on the letterpress. Read the rest here.

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Design by Graham Clifford; Hand lettering by Wells Collins; Letterpress by Vote for the Letterpress.

Reimagine Success: Creative Space Gives Freedom

Peoria’s Prairie Center for the Arts  Provides Space to Let Creative Minds Explore the Possible

Prairie Center of the Arts is a hidden gem in downtown Peoria. Founded in 2003, the center is located in a 120 year old building that was once home to a rope manufacturer. The warehouse is now occupied with a large gallery space on one side, and a printmaking shop and artist studios on the other.

The Center offers residencies to artists with studio space and equipment that allows them to work without distraction. Dawn Gettler came to Peoria from Chicago as an art resident a couple of years ago, and when she was offered the program manager job at the Center, she moved here full-time two years ago. She says, “I found that I could buy a house here and afford a studio and get a job in the arts. I sort of re-evaluated what it meant to be successful, and for me that meant being able to make work and sustain a lifestyle, which I can do in Peoria.” Read the rest of the story here.

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Artist resident Josh Cox doing a screenprinting demo.

The Canadianist: Highs and Lows

Our friends to the North, Everlovin’ Press in Kingston, Ontario, have created a new series of fine letterpress prints called The Canadianist, featuring five illustrations from select artists to comment on Cananadian culture, from high to low .

Illustrator Tom Froese and Everlovin’ conceived the series to promote the Canadian design and illustration community and showcase the beauty of letterpress. They had previously collaborated on a postcard series entitled Greetings From Canada with a similar tongue-in-cheek mandate.  The Canadianist is their sequel to that. Five artists were invited to address one theme each: Fashion, Food, Flora, Know-How, and Colloquialisms.

Froese says, “Vince and I have a passion for letterpress, and of course would like to establish Everlovin’ as the choicest letterpress printer for designers in the country.” They chose the artists and assigned them themes that they thought would suit their styles and would provide lots of potential for ‘assemblages of Canadiana.’” Read the rest here.

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Perfectly Imperfect: Human Connection

Although letterpress printing is a traditional, laborious process, and flies in the face of modern technology, it’s never been more popular. People crave the beautiful imperfections and sensory experience of this timeless media, and designers value the handiwork and intrinsic qualities it adds to their creative output. In this feature post, we show the designs of Felix Sockwell, Gary Rozanc and Chad Michael, plus the printing talent John Selikoff (Vote for Letterpress Press, South Orange, NJ), the craftsmen and women at Studio on Fire (MPLS), and Gary Rozanc himself. Read the article here.

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NPR poster detail by Felix Sockwell.

Visiting the Streets of Old Detroit

Time travel was never so easy, if you’re in Detroit, that is.

The Detroit Historical Museum has a permanent exhibition called The Streets of Old Detroit, which leads visitors through the city starting in 1840 then moving through six decades as it transforms from a rural frontier town to an industrial giant. The themes of industry, commerce, communication and retail are explored with facades of actual businesses such as a barber shop, hat shop, printer, blacksmith, and more, complete with cobblestone streets and gas lights. Read more here.

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