Kseniya ThomasKeymaster@kseniya8 years, 6 months ago
How did you become a printer?
First saw letterpress in the Art Center College of Design, Pasadena, gallery. That led me to the work of Julie Holcomb in San Francisco. I couldn’t get enough of letterpress. I took a class during my last semester at Art Center in 1995. I thought it was just a fun elective because I was heading into the “new” field of web design. Four years later the wedding related web company I was working for was struggling. I left that company and started a business printing wedding invitation packages on my own. I had to go back to Art Center and retake the class because I didn’t pay enough attention the first time around.
What was your first press?
A C&P 8×12 with a treadle.
What do you make?
I’m a one-stop shop so I make the film. plates, and do the printing. I mostly print on my line of fair trade and eco friendly paper “Sustain & Heal.” But also on other stocks like Crane Lettra or Porridge Paper. Invitations and business cards mostly keep me busy. I’m set up to do a little foil stamping if it’s needed. A few fun special one-off type projects here and there.
What do you like best about your work or physical shop?
My street level studio is in a sunny and busy location 8 miles northeast of downtown Los Angeles. South Pasadena was voted “best ‘burb” in Sunset Magazine’s recent “Best Place to Live” feature. The Chamber of Commerce hosts Art Walks four times a year and I always do a demo with the foot treadle C&P that is very interesting for passersby.
What do you find challenging about being a printer?
I need to do a lot of mind reading. For example, when people say they want “letterpress gold” usually that means they want foil stamp gold. I do my best to guide the project toward what the person is imagining, rather than what they actually say. This includes some careful expectation management that doesn’t dampen their enthusiasm for letterpress.
Who or what inspires you the most? Do you have a printing hero or mentor?
NSS is a huge annual inspiration. So many creative letterpress printers out there! My letterpress mentor, Regis Graden, who made my plates for many years, passed away in 2005. Among the many things he liked to philosophize about, mistakes made while printing was one of his favorite subjects. I wrote a memorial for this very generous man called “Musings of a Young Fart about an Old Fart” on my blog on the five year anniversary of his death.
Do you have a printing or business tip that you can’t live without?
When printing with polymer plates, slightly stroke periods, commas, and dots on the lowercase i’s. That way they won’t disappear on your 50th print.
Can we see your shop?
Anytime! Open Monday-Friday. Saturday Evening ArtWalks for 2014 are scheduled for March 8, May 3, July 12, and Oct 11.
Thoughts (random or otherwise!) on the future of letterpress?
With all the creative designers out there, letterpress is strong. We’ll keep it that way if we continue to develop designs using unusual materials that digital printing cannot offer.
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