Did you have mentors when you started learning about printmaking who taught you the ropes?
Katy is how I know how to do this. If she wasn’t around, I wouldn’t know how to do this at all. She gave me the initial setup, gave me the loose bolts, and kind of let me go—which in hindsight was kind of brave on her behalf.
When we first started the business, we had Stumptown Printers who are good friends that we knew from before. We actually approached them and asked what would be a good niche for us. Ironically enough, they completely nailed it and told us exactly where we needed to be, which is what we do now—working with other designers and doing our own designs for small businesses up to larger operations. So they were really integral, and they still are, in our day-to-day.
There is a pretty thriving community of older printers who are now retiring that we’re kind of tapped into in Portland and the West Coast area. There are people that we know in Minneapolis that we still call on occasion.
The network is pretty strong, you just have to know where it is. It’s not based off the internet, or based off of meetings. It’s meeting one person, and then meeting their friends. You slowly find out that there is this huge population that is vastly knowledgable and are willing to help if you ask the right questions.
Do you have any advice for students or creatives who are thinking about getting into printmaking and letterpress?
Don’t do it. If you want to make money, don’t do it. If you want to be happy, maybe. Take classes. There are places like IPRC, PNCA, OCAC. Don’t just run out and buy something off the internet. Take your time, be patient. Seek out education. Learn the printing process.
Even as someone who has been doing this for quite awhile, it’s going to take me the rest of my life to keep growing, learning, and finessing the process.