Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Seven Things Meme

Ok, in an attempt to get back to my beloved blog, here’s a work-focussed meme, tagged to me by Ampersand Duck, who is oh so good at making the rest of us look bad for not updating our blogs regularly. As with Ducky, I’ll be sharing 7 things about my studio/working processes.

Seven Things Meme.

1. I’m not a clean person at all (though really wish I was). The house is always a mess, my computer desk is always a mess. But if I work in an office, the office desk must be spotless otherwise I can’t focus. I’m a bit the same with my studio space. If it’s not clean, with everything in its place, I get uncomfortable, and really don’t enjoy the work as much. Saying this, the past few months it’s been pretty grubby.

2. I’m a listmaker. Everyday I need to pull out my notebook and write a to-do list for the day. Sometimes I’m guilty of writing everything possible little thing that I can think of that needs doing, just so I have more to cross of the list to make me feel like I’ve achieved more during the day. For the things that don’t get done, they get added to tomorrow’s list. If I’m stressed out about a really long list of urgent tasks, I think of more creative ways to present the list, such as writing each item on a separate card and sticking them on the door under headings or priorities. Of course, I’ll use that for a day, then the next day I’ll need to make a new list somehow. Note: this does not necessarily make me an organised or efficient worker.

3. For the past 11 months, my ‘studio space’ has been my one car garage in our rental house. There’s enough space for the press, shelving, a large desk, bins (in my endeavour to keep it *cough* clean), and the dog kennel. It’s a HORRIBLE space to work, and I find myself spending as little time in there as possible. My computer desk is inside, so I’m often in there if there’s no printing at the time. In winter, the temperature in the garage gets to -1C in the mornings and I need to take my ink inside and heat it up to be able to scoop it out of the tin and work with it. The press is freezing, but still works very well. My hands are so cold that I find it hard to grab the paper out of the press in time, and have no grip on my fingers. In summer, the temps get to 34C or more, which the press loves, mind you. The ink is the perfect consistency and the press and rollers move freely. I, on the other hand, sweat like a pig. But as long as I’m prepared for the hot weather, I don’t mind it too much. The garage really isn’t weather-proof. If there are strong gusts of wind (as there usually are in Sept-Oct), I can’t print because it blows so much dust onto the press. I’ve also had problems with humidity during storms, but I can deal with that now. I always find it amazing that my press can produce such gorgeous work in such horrible conditions.

4. I love mass-produced things. I think that’s part of why I became a graphic designer. I always used to love designing a brochure or something similar, and then having 8 million of them produced (well, that was my record). It was a keen interest in the printing process that really set me up for letterpress. At any excuse, I’d go on a press check for a job, just so I could see the setup, smell the ink, gaze in wonder at the 10-colour Heidelbergs and see my job half printed. Of course, I don’t print large runs on the letterpress, it’s just too time-consuming, and I can only spend so many hours in front of the press a day. If I had a Heidelberg T-platen however...

5. I enjoy printing a mixture of my designs and other people’s designs. Sometimes it’s just nice to have someone send me the complete file, so all I have to worry about is the printing. It is always more satisfying to print my own design that I enjoyed creating though. Especially printing one colour at a time and watching it come together as a final piece.

6. Guillotining is the worst part of my day. I love my little guillotine and don’t know what I’d do without it, but really, I spend far too much time cutting those large sheets to size. Because the sheets are larger than the guillo’s blade, I have to cut them down by hand first. Sure, I could take them to someone else to get guillotined by one of their huge industrial-sized guillos, but that works out to take just as long when I factor in driving time. I’m sure eventually I’ll get a huge guillo for the studio, but for now, I’m terrified of anything bigger than the one I currently have, and really don’t want to go near those automated ones.

7. Running your own letterpress studio can be a lonely venture. As much as I hated working in government studios with all kinds of mindless morons interrupting my work for a pointless meeting, or to discuss timelines that I’ve already emailed to them, or tell me about so-and-so who’s sucking up to the boss, or even just to tell me about how their daughter went at netball last night... BREATHE LOU, BREATHE... having a few (quiet) people around can really improve your workday and make it go faster. Don’t get me wrong – I really do enjoy the peace and quiet during the day, and I have Tiger the cat, and Taylor the dog to keep me company. But another person or two would be nice to have around. When I’m in the house on the computer or guillotining I have the tv on, and when I’m out on the press, the radio is cranked up on Triple J. However, right now I’m sitting in silence at my computer, and it’s only just occurred to me. I won’t tag anyone else for now, but feel free to leave a comment if you’re attempting this meme as well :)


Ampersand Duck said...

That was great! Having seen the space you work in, I've always been really impressed with your output. It's such great news that you settled on that new house! I'd be green as Kermit if I didn't have my own new space to move to :)

Pearl Moon Press said...


First off, I like to say what a wonderful blog you have. I just stumbled upon it today and pretty much read through all your archives -- really helpful and interesting stuff. As it seems to be a reoccurring theme, I acquired my first press back in April of 2008 after becoming obsessed with designing the perfect wedding invitations for my August wedding. Letterpress is intoxicating and once you start it's love.

Your studio situation sounds almost exactly like my current work space. My press is in our condo's one-car garage and it's really cold right now so it's just not as enjoyable to print. Sounds like your next studio space will be just perfect! Congratulations!

I've had many of the same challenges you've had and it's comforting to know I'm not the only one! I still have yet to try out photopolymer, I'm still on magnesium plates.

One thing I'd like to mention that might help you out with cutting your sheets down. I don't know where you're getting your paper from, but I get mine from a paper distributor (in cartons) and they cut down the paper to my specifications for little to no extra cost.

I'd love to talk more shop with you in the future. In the meantime good luck!