e martë, 12 qershor 2007

Don't Call Me A Designer

The aromatic scent of ink and the ballet-like mechanics of a Heidelberg are the essence of dreams, but today they were a reality. Amos Kennedy, a local letterpress designer, graciously accepted us into his studio for over an hour. He lives and works in a neglected Boys and Girls Club in Akron, AL (a Rural Studio project from the days of Sam Mockbee). Although his skill and craft clearly resemble the work of an artist or designer, Amos prefers the title of printer. From our joyous visit, we learned about his history as a printer-mathematician-programmer, his thoughts on the the community, and his recently appointed position as an artist-in-residence at Longwood University (Virginia).

While showing us around the packed studio (which houses two Vandercooks, an Asbern, a Heidelberg platen press, and more wood and metal type than you can imagine), Amos printed 50 postcards for each of us, using a wood-block print chosen from his collection (that's 8 different sets of 50 cards. 400 in total!). Our excitement could not be contained as we explored his personal library and purchased beautiful posters from his archives. We were intoxicated with design.

When questioned about his business, Amos replied, "Just send me a check and the text and pray it comes out right. I don't spell check. I don't match colors." These are the words of a true renegade printer.

His work ranges from invitations and fans to note cards and posters. The racial issues living in the South are ever present in his work and intrigued us all. Judging by the reaction of the group, we are all clearly in love with the ways of the printing press and the manner in which one man, armed with the machines of communication, could disperse his message, his art, to the community.

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