The University of Arizona School of Art takes its creativity to the 2019 Tucson Festival of Books, providing students the chance to participate in hands-on activities and learn more about the letterpress.
“The school has been really focusing a lot on how to better engage both the campus and Tucson community with the work that we have been doing,” said Colin Blakely, the director of the UA School of Art. “The festival of books is a fantastic opportunity for the university to engage the broader Tucson community; it seemed like a perfect venue for us to promote these new directions for the school.”
The School of Art booth will feature various activities that will showcase the school’s letterpress lab and give children the chance to interact with some of the art and visual culture education students. AVCE is a bachelor's of fine arts degree offered through the art school.
“We are planning on having bookmarks that some of our volunteers and students have made in our letterpress lab,” said Karen Zimmermann, the assistant director at the School of Art. “We are also going to have some art visual culture education students leading an activity for kids that let them personalize their own journal.”
A wide range of students from illustration and design and AVCE programs will be helping out at the booth throughout the weekend.
Dianna Taylor, a student at the UA and intern in the Book Arts & Letterpress Lab, will be volunteering at the booth, where she will demonstrate use of a letterpress.
“I will be at the booth demonstrating the use of the small clam shell letterpress machine,” Taylor said.
When it came to planning and preparing for the booth, Zimmermann said it required much organization, since the students had to make the objects that are going to be given away. Students created the free bookmarks using the resources in the letterpress lab.
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“The large type and the decorative elements on the bookmarks are wooden type, and the smaller type is made of lead,” Taylor said. “The type was laid all at once, so there were four bookmarks to a page, and we ran it through a Vandercook printing press. Once the type is set tightly in the bed of the printing press, hundreds of prints can be pulled in a short amount of time, and they are all pretty much consistent in quality.”
Zimmermann said she believes the School of Art’s dedicated students, the display of the letterpress artwork and the fun projects will make the booth stand out.
“We have very enthusiastic students, alumni and volunteers that will be in the booth showcasing the work from the letterpress and hands on project,” Zimmermann said.
Similar to Zimmermann, Blakely is looking forward to having the Tucson community learn about the letterpress process.
“I am most looking forward to seeing the broader public engage with these incredible historic processes that are represented by the letterpress lab,” Blakely said.
The School of Art's booth will give people the opportunity to learn more about the letterpress and see the artwork made from it.
“People should visit the booth if they are curious about the way the letterpress process works and what sorts of art that is produced out of that method,” Taylor said. “People will get to see firsthand the different kind of life this method brings to artwork, as opposed to printing on an inkjet.”
Most importantly, the School of Art booth allows everyone to experience the letterpress process and get to return home with something they created themselves.
“It’s interesting and fun, because they get to play with really cool equipment, and it's hands on, so they will actually get to try out certain printing and book-making processes,” Blakely said. “In some cases, they actually get to create something they can walk away with.”
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