Back to the Basics: Letterpress

This winter I decided to get back to the basics with my letterpress education at take a class at the School of Visual Concepts here in Seattle. They have a great letterpress shop with excellent and enthusiastic instructors. I decided for my final broadside project to typeset the lyrics to a song by Nina Simone that I like to think of when I'm down in the dumps. And since I had access to SVC's wonderful print shop and skilled printmaking instructors, I would go all out. I put together a complicated handset type lockup, using a combination of lead and wood type from their collection. I printed a split fountain background that I ended up doing as a "pressure print", a process that I would actually love to continue using in my process. Two press runs total. 

Everything was designed and produced off the computer. 

A Personal Geography

I've been turning the idea over in my head of visualizing the events of my life into some weird geographic location. I thought it would be a good creative exercise, and also help me reflect a little. So last month, I finally sat myself down and illustrated this Tolkien-inspired map of my life. Now that I've got the juices flowing I can't stop thinking of different ways to chart and represent the events in my life, like the imaginative maps in Katherine Harmon's "You Are Here".  Maybe I'll make this into a semi-annual thing.  


map process
Meg O'Brien | map detail
Meg O'Brien | map detail

SVC Wayzgoose Steamroller Smackdown Recap

Last month several Tetherites and I went down to the block party at South Lake Union to take part in the School of Visual Concept's 13th Annual Letterpress Wayzgoose.  For those who don't know, a "wayzgoose" was an event hosted by a master printer to his workmen each year that marked the end of summer and start of working by candlelight. Nowadays a lot of letterpress shops and studios take the day to host printing extravaganzas with demonstrations and booths for the larger community. SVC's Wayzgoose is my favorite time of year. Creative studios from around the Seattle area are asked to form a team. Each team designs and carves up a sheet of linoleum the size of your kitchen counter! And, of course, the only way to print a sheet of linoleum the size of your kitchen counter is to run it over with a steamroller!!

This year we decided to do a print inspired by the mammoth tusk they dug up in South Lake Union earlier in the year while excavating for one of the high-rises. I took on the task of designing, illustrating, and hand lettering the poster. I don't think I've ever designed for something so large (around 4x5 feet!). Kind of intimidating but I think the mammoth stood up to the pressure ….heh… heh. 

Meg O'Brien | Mammoth Print
Wayzgoose Carving
Meg O'Brien
SVC Wayzgoose