When I was in second grade and was first learning to write, I violated all the rules of the solid line, dashed line, solid line format that we were asked to follow while practicing our letters. I opted instead for letterforms that, in retrospect, had much more in common with art deco display faces than they did with the samples we were given to emulate.
The long ascenders and small, geometric bowls of my early handwriting marked me with both rebellion and regression. Looking backward (and out of the box) is a perspective which I have found comfort in over the years. Combined with my love of letterforms, this worldview in retrograde has left me in the comfortable position of being a letterpress printer.
I had my first exposure to letterpress printing in high school and learned a bit more after graduation on a solid oak lever press. Then, after a stint at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, I started my work in earnest working for Coffee House Press at Minnesota Center for Book Arts when they first opened (25 years ago).
In 1987 I started The Nomadic Press. Working out of a basement (and a garage) worked fine for a while, but when my friend (and wife) Emily and I wanted to start a family something needed to change. After looking for over a year, we found a building on the West Side in St. Paul which suited our needs.
The brick building we found was built in 1914, and it sits on a large lot with a nice big yard. Trees offer shade, and the upstairs apartment provided a comfortable home in which to start our family.
Oh, and the print shop fit nicely on the main floor.
We now have two kids and own a house about a mile away from The Nomadic Press. Emily’s business (Aldrich Design) now operates out of the upstairs of the print shop.
At this point, you may ask why I am telling you all this. Well, the reason for this rambling history of letterpress printing and friendship is to share some exciting news.
This last week we made the final mortgage payment on the building that houses The Nomadic Press. We now own it free and clear. And we owe a lot of thanks for all the help and support we have received over the years from our families and our friends. As well as all of you who have seen fit to hire us now and again. Thanks.
As my grandfather said, it’s ours, now we can kick it. Brick, mortar and all.
And I say, kick it letterpress.