On a sunlit day at The Nomadic Press the light pours in through the large front windows and bathes a room full of cast-iron printing presses in a promising warmth. The maple woodwork of the 1914 building lends a quiet atmosphere to the pressroom where Master Printer Kent Aldrich creates the beautiful work that The Nomadic Press is known for.
Started in 1989, The Nomadic Press has, over three decades, seen letterpress printing through the days when the craft seemed to be heading towards an irrelevant obsolescence in the face of digital output and into a time when the tactile sensuality of the process and materials are at the apex of desirability.
As a small boy, in second grade, Kent was designing typefaces while other children were learning how to write letters. He learned his first calligraphic hand in sixth grade and had his first foray into letterpress printing in ninth. Kent went on to study at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design where all manner of materials and their relationships to one another were explored. When he began to pursue a life of letterpress printing in earnest Kent worked for the then-fledgling Minnesota Center for Book Arts where, on a daily basis, as many of the world’s finest printers, book binders and papermakers stopped in to share their knowledge and inspire others.
Kent purchased his first printing press for fifty dollars and soon added other equipment as he proved to more and more clients that letterpress printing remained a tasty and dimensional option. In 1993 Kent and his friend (and wife) Emily purchased the brick building that is still home to The Nomadic Press. They lived in the apartment above the print shop for the next seven years where the friendly rumble of the presses resonated throughout the space at all hours. In the early days their children (now grown) joined in many a client meeting.
Now, after printing letterpress for decades and, some say, inspiring a national resurgence of the craft, Kent Aldrich continues the tradition of his life’s work at The Nomadic Press. Whether he is working on printing a small run of business cards a multi-colored piece of great complexity, or on the construction of custom clamshell presentation box, decades of experience goes into each piece. And in the end the pleasure that Kent takes in his work is apparent in its quality and in the attention that has been paid to the details.