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.

Expressing and Pressing in Lubbock

Husband and wife duo, Dirk and Carol Fowler have been running f2design since 2000, but each takes on their own clients in their specialties. Carol focuses mainly on print collateral and event graphics, while Dirk is busy designing letterpress posters, music packaging, corporate identities, and editorial illustration. The beauty of this set-up is that they collaborate when needed and and bounce ideas off each other, so they’re not working in a vacuum from their remote studio in Lubbock, Texas.

“We are comfortable with each other and the way we work, and we have intentionally kept our shop to just the two of us. We have had the opportunity to work for high profile clients, but we are just as happy designing something for our kids’ schools,” Dirk says. “One of our kids is usually hanging out right beside us while we are working, and we are OK with that.” Read the rest here.

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Ugly Art Possesses Charm & Character

The crude, messy nature of screenprinting is exactly what attracted designer Ryan Duggan to his craft of making what he calls, “Ugly Art.”

In Chicago, where the temps are currently freeze-your-ass-off frigid, the print scene is hot. “We have more pro-level screen printers in this city than anywhere else in the world, and yet it’s not an ugly competition. Everyone helps each other out. I love it here,” says Ryan Duggan, a one-man screenprinting machine, churning out posters, invitations, and art prints in the Windy City.

He’s printed hundreds of gig posters since 2006, when he came to his senses after studying advertising copywriting at Columbia College in Chicago. “I realized I had zero interest in working in an ad agency,” he says. I’m sure his parents were thrilled. Fortunately, in high school he learned how to screenprint from a temperamental guy named Zim. Duggan recalls, “He would absolutely lose his shit if you called ink ‘paint.’ To this day, I cringe when people use the wrong term, expecting Zim to jump on a table and scream.” Read rest of article here.

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I Love My Hair!

Andrea Pippins’ eclectic, and joyous new coloring book celebrates the natural beauty of the afro. But the book has a more important message: Embrace your own identity. Celebrate who you are.

For years, Andrea Pippins’ embrace of her natural locks has demonstrated to her friends and admirers that the natural afro is the way to go. Fun, frilly, doodles, and intricate coils blended into words in funky letters are the key ingredients to this joyful celebration of individuality her new coloring book. The book is a concept that has been marinating in her mind for many years. It is much more than your off-the-shelf doodle book: It delivers a visual and powerful statement about why women of color should embrace their identity by celebrating those things that make them unique.

Pippins’ idea for this book began while working on her MFA graphic design thesis at Temple University. “Our thesis topic was Social Awareness,” she recalls. “This inspired me to focus on the revival of the natural hair movement at the time. I was intrigued by the black beauty industry and the amount of money black women worldwide spend on hair care. My book grew from this fascination and my research into the subject.”

At that moment, Pippins had been natural for seven years, and she loved it. She wondered how the hair products industry would change if more black women embraced their natural coils and went natural as well. How would product makers respond to demand? How would they market natural beauty to African American women? How would that affect the perception of African American women and afro wearers everywhere?

Pippins began to explore these questions visually, and soon after, elements of her work became art prints and T-shirts that she made available on her website. There were many buyers. Random House published the coloring book  I Love My Hair this past November. Read the rest of the article here.

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Hypno-Baco-Tool-Rific!

Many design shops create calendars that get sent out once a year, or drip campaigns that are more frequent but typically no fun. Fifth Letter in Winston Salem, NC combined the best of both worlds and had some fun doing it, creating quarterly calendars that celebrate under-rated holidays in a beautiful, tactile format.

According to Fifth Letter’s ringleader, Elliot Strunk, his team started working on this concept in fall 2015, researching a list of odd holidays, and finding ways to loosely tie them together. “We tried to find ones that would not only be fun to spotlight but would also fit together into some sort of theme,” he says. Who knew people worshipped their tools on March 11? Read the rest of the article here.

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Good Taste: Letterpress Posters Whet Appetites

Hot, Fresh, Wholesome & Delicious!

Handmade Tortillas, Fresh Baked Bread, Letterpress Posters? Yes, Please!

When Mi Rancho opened its doors in 1939 in Oakland, Calif., it was the only Mexican grocery store in the area, providing handmade tortillas and other specialty items. This family-owned business has since grown into a supplier to restaurants all over the country, churning out nearly 4.5 million tortillas a day. The owner wanted something special to commemorate the anniversary, so he hired designer Steve Epstein to create a poster to share with his vendors.

Epstein, who has been a designer since the late ’70s, starting as a print designer, then moving into broadcast design and animation working for ABC in Hollywood, then a CBS affiliate in San Francisco. For the past 14 years, he’s focused on photography and print design. Read rest of article here.

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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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Loving Couple, Loving New Orleans

“It’s not often that I get to design anything personal, so getting married was really the most wonderful excuse to go all out and design something conceptually meaningful and aesthetically characteristic to my wife’s and my sensibilities,” says Cody Dingle on designing his own, luxurious wedding invitations.

Of course, he did much more than that. He virtually illustrated their love story, designing a website for their friends and family, providing important details about their big day including an RSVP form, suggested hotels and B&Bs, and even a map of New Orleans (where they live) pointing out the different areas of the city and noting the locations of their nuptials and reception. Read the rest of the article here.

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Spooktastic Fun!

What better way to spend a crisp, fall day than making crafts at work? Trick or treaters visiting this Connecticut based design studio will have to earn their treats this year. Elements brewed up some frightful creations this past Friday.

Principal Amy Graver says, “It was nice to unplug and shut down, use our hands, and collaborate to figure out how to create each piece together. We were swapping ideas and materials, as well as bad Halloween jokes all day. It was a blast!” Read the rest of the article here.

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Photography by Steve Walter, stevewalterphoto.com.