Three years ago, Adrienne and I moved to DeKalb, Illinois—made famous as the home of barb wire and Cindy Crawford and the flying corncob—so Adrienne could pursue a MFA in Printmaking at Northern Illinois University. The university welcomed me—as well—with open arms. Allowing me to share a studio with Adrienne and eventually teaching a design class at the university. We have made some great friends and tried to take advantage of the amazing opportunities that being so close to Chicago offers. We have survived the Polar Vortex and the flatness of the Midwestern cornfields, and come away as stronger persons because of it.
After leaving Nashville, it was hard to imagine a life better than printing posters at Hatch Show Print and making art and good times with all our amazing friends there. After a while of struggling to find "real" work, I decided that I needed to pursue printing letterpress full time. Slowly work started trickling in from friends, former Hatch clients and strangers, all looking for letterpress rock and roll posters, the timing could not have been more perfect. Over the past three years I have had an opportunity to grow my letterpress type collection, and add a new press to my arsenal of antique equipment. I have also added begun working with a laser engraver to create new letterpress blocks and pushing my aesthetic to be both contemporary and respectful of the traditions of this medium. I cannot thank Hatch Show Print enough for the advice, work and encouragement they have given me along the way as I do this on my own. The knowledge, friendships and support from my tenure there will always be at the center of whatever it is I am doing in life.
The work coming in continues to be so much fun; printing posters for the likes of Van Morrison, Yo La Tengo, Cake, Shovels & Rope, David Gray and Gregg Allman to name a few. I have also been doing more and more digital graphic design working with some amazing clients on identity and package design. My digital portfolio now includes work with Bite Hard Cider, Black Dot Spirits, Penguin Books, Signal Ridge Vineyard and The Forge Brewhouse among others. After eight years of not using a computer at Hatch, it's good to be back in front of a screen, learning new things and making great stuff along the way. I am grateful for all of the work—big and small—that has allowed me to be where I am now.
I have also been continuing to share the good word of letterpress and design to the masses. I have always enjoyed teaching workshops and talking to people about how cool letterpress and design is. Being here has helped me further that important part of my life. Teaching a letterpress show poster class at Evanston Print and Paper Shop in Evanston, IL and private lessons at Spudnik Press in Chicago have allowed me to reach a new audience and hone my teaching skills. Traveling to Hamilton Wood Type and Printing Museum has been a lot easier with it now only being three hours away. Getting to help with Hamilton's move to their new location has been a highlight of my time here. This past Spring I was also presented with the opportunity to teach a Typography class at NIU here in DeKalb. Teaching design at a collegiate level has always been something I was interested in doing. It was a whole lot of work, but one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. We even scheduled a time to have the students do a small letterpress workshop at the studio, it was a blast, and the students loved it.
DeKalb has been an alright city for us to call home these last three years. There isn't much to do, so all there is to do is work. I could not imagine being where I am today having gone anywhere else. Leaving on the cheap has allowed me to not compromise my integrity in terms of the work I am doing and who I am doing it for. Having access to a city like Chicago has been amazing, exposing us to a culture and community we have come to admire and continue to be inspired by. DeKalb is about 60 miles west of Chicago which creates a bit of a creative void in Dekalb as most graduating students and professionals get pulled to the city in search of work and community. Most professors at the university would rather commute than live here continuing the lack of culture that resides in Dekalb itself. I have made a few friends in the city that strive to contradict that. Tobie Depauw of North Central Cyclery is a central figure in my positive relationship with DeKalb. Introducing me to great guys doing creative and important things for the area through the once a month ritual dude-hang; Thirdsday. This time opened my eyes to the good things happening in DeKalb, and gave us all a platform to talk about how we could make it a little more bearable to be here. Also, we moved a press into the basement of the bike shop!
Adrienne has been printing her little butt off, and I couldn't be more proud of the work she has been creating. There have been some hard times, and nights of not eating dinner until 10 at night. She is killing it though, receiving scholarships and being invited to show in galleries across the US. She will have a solo show at Vanderbilt University in November of this year. At the beginning of May, Adrienne graduated from Northern Illinois University with a MFA in Printmaking. Now we are both ready to move forward and see what new adventures await us.
We are pleased to announce that those new adventures will begin in Louisville, Kentucky. This is my hometown, but that has very little to do with why we are moving to Derby City. We really miss our friends and families in the South, and our trips to visit just seemed to get shorter. The lush and beautiful landscape of rolling hills and tons of trees were calling us as well. Louisville has always been a fantastic place to be creative, there is a lot of support from the community and city for the arts. It is also the perfect size, not too big, but not to small. There are tons of great restaurants, coffee shops and people. We are excited to make some new friends, and reunite with the the old ones. Hound Dog Press is an amazing letterpress shop in town, and they are welcoming us with open arms. Nick and Robert run a great shop, and I will be happy to call them my competition. I am currently on the hunt for a small studio to set up shop. My plan is to continue working freelance until I can eventually operate a community studio with classes and press rental. I really miss having people around for collaboration and conversation, and hope to open myself up to the community as much—and as soon—as possible. We have some big plans, and Louisville is going to be a great place to make them happen. Until then, we are going to drink Bourbon, watch horse races and eat fried chicken!