This week I hosted my very first Chicago Ideas Week (CIW) lab.
A few months ago CIW reached out to me, asking if I’d be interested in hosting a behind-the-scenes experience of our business. If you’re not familiar with CIW, they describe it as follows: “Chicago Ideas Week brings together hundreds of the world's brightest thought leaders to inspire, connect, and activate the city of Chicago and beyond.” I was honored they sought me out but I’m a shy person by nature and was a bit apprehensive. I have an ongoing battle of shyness vs. letterpress passion/business, yet the more I researched CIW, the more I wanted to participate. I really love the idea of sharing my passion for letterpress printing with the rest of the world.
In the past, I have hosted schools, art students, young authors and several one-on-one aspiring letterpress printers with ease. This was much more difficult for me as I had no idea what my guest’s backgrounds were. This made me question how technical I should be while presenting the process. At times, I noticed I was stumbling on words and rambling on a bit. However, once I began demonstrating actual letterpress printing, I was much more at ease. I love printing on my 1913 platen press, it feels natural and the desire to share that experience really helped me to focus. The attendees participated by printing, cutting and corner rounding several of their very own postcards designed specifically for the event. And while I may have started out a bit rocky, the end result was great. Everyone was enthusiastic about printing, extremely respectful of our studio and asked incredibly thoughtful questions. Both the CIW participants and volunteers were wonderful, I couldn’t have asked for a better group. Finally, after demonstrating the craft and effort that go into each card, one participant said, “now I appreciate why a letterpress printed card costs $5.00 or more,” which made me feel great. Overall I’m considering this a big win for letterpress passion, it was a fantastic experience and I hope to have the opportunity to host a lab again next year.