It seems crazy to admit, but before this year I hadn’t taken an art class since late 2008. One of my goals this year is to take full advantage of being self-employed and having a flexible schedule and so I signed up for a beginning letterpress class. I was hoping to immerse myself in learning. And I did. I often felt stupid and forgetful and like I had big meaty paws, but I tried to breathe into those feelings and remember that mistakes are a part of the process.
I learn best when I’m doing and don’t worry too much about the perfection of the outcome. Muscle memory and making mistakes (over and over) are what produces learning and some modicum of eventual skill in me. Sometimes it also produces a work that beautifully combines intention, happenstance, and mistakes.
I like words and I used to work with them much more, so it felt good to use a process that was meant to make them. My four projects were based on short phrases and I was drawn to the big wood type because it’s awesome and makes a statement.
I tried to stay away from trying to make work that was supposed to be exact or expert, but I wanted to make work that I liked and looked good. However, I was primarily there to learn to set type, figure out the systems that compose the letterpress process, think about things differently, and enjoy myself.
On the whole, the work I wanted to make was going to be a product based on the exploration of the process of letterpress, but while the process was the most important, I also wanted tangible, visible proof my exploration. By the end of the class I finished four pieces– two that were more considered and two that were quick and dirty.
I was able to use four presses, lead and wood type, big and smallish type, and pressure print. All in all I was happy with my experience and prints and I plan to take another class within the next year.