15 and Counting

It would be hard to believe that Starshaped is celebrating 15 years if it weren't for the mounds of printing equipment and type I'm surrounded by in the studio every day. And while I don't often remember where it all came from, I can say that most of it has been incorporated into the flow of work on a daily basis and earns its keep. Below you can see the italicized, angle bodied Bernhard Gothic that made its way to the studio by way of the Platen Press Museum. prints7

Given that it's been the year of creating ornamental letterforms, I thought I'd try my hand at figures too, hence the '15' on both the postcards (below) and posters for the annual open house. Postcards don't always make it onto the schedule, but this year they did so that they could be included in the swag bags at the Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum Wayzgoose.


This is a nice, chunky typographic '15' that I was very pleased with. It may be the start of something...


For the poster, I wanted to create a circular seal-like image with a subtle pressure print. The chipboard '15' was added to the makeready. I cut a piece of linoleum for the round base; you can see the ghosting of the ink on the linoleum since I printed the red and gold before the final transparent white.


I also made a pretty weak attempt at setting larger type on a curve with this hackneyed piece of plywood. But it worked.

prints10The final poster!


The annual open house has happened since filing for my dba back in 1999; the first few years at the old studio were more of a gathering for friends and family and took place during the day on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon. After moving to our current location in 2003, the open house turned into an extremely well attended event on a Saturday night in November. That's when I started creating posters to advertise; below are the last 11 years worth of prints.


While there is always a bit of type out for every event, this year there was a LOT of type out, both because of so many recent acquisitions as well as just not having the time to get things organized and distributed. So everyone was able to see beautiful new and unused metal and wood type, as well as many forms from recent jobs.

typeoutAll the presses are rolling for the open house, and this is the form that everyone could print this time around. It's the start of a series of fantastic Chicago quotes that I intend to set with some of the finer wood type in the studio.


We also set up some of the new tiny snowflakes done with Moore Wood Type so that everyone could print a wintery greeting card.


Prior to the mob scene, my incredible interns all showed up to get things moving. Cathy and Emily came with these amazing new aprons! What a sweet surprise. Now we all look like a force to be reckoned with. Because we are.

apronsLook at Emily go!


Fine ladies representing the School of the Art Institute! Janice, Cathie Ruggie Saunders (an incredible instructor that everyone in letterpress should know), and Cathy. They do letterpress right at SAIC.


Jo also set up a print for the kids to do on her little galley press.


And after printing the kids went bonkers, running around the studio and hall like wild banshees.


It was very humbling to have so many talented folks from the neighborhood come by. Here we have the Favorites, Amber and Tom, snuggling in with Emily 'anything less than the best is a felony' Orange Beautiful. A few of my favorite designers.


For all the time we spend in Beans and Bagels, it was wonderful to have Sido and Will come by. Two others that spend a lot of time there are screen printer and illustrator extraordinaire Dan Grzeca and fantastic photographer Jookie Jill.


Also got a visit from my hero Deb of the Chicago Printmakers Collaborative. They are celebrating 25 years of awesome printmaking and I was thrilled to be a part of this in the form of creating their show posters. These were then turned into wine labels, which Deb brought by. And of course she brought a little treat for our printers devil.



A real treat was having the Upchurch family come out. One of the best times of my life was working at Fireproof Press... all the printing, fun and fellowship without the hassle of running the business! Lori and John have always been family to me, supporting Starshaped throughout the last 15 years.


And of course John showed up with the traditional Fireproof Press offering of root beer.

johnJust a few of the many faces of friends, old and new, that made it through the studio.


Also had a nice visit from Abby Woods, a current Columbia College student, who's working on a project about... me! Here's a sneak peek of what she's up to.


It was both an exhausting and exhilarating evening. I came in Sunday to clean up the fall out and found this guy hanging out by the typecases. I suppose the mess that was left behind was a good sign that the party was a success. I made no little plans when starting the studio 15 years ago and given the support of the community I feel confident the studio has another 15 in front of me.