Laurie Szujewska Copyright 2011
How long have you been using letterpress?
I started printing with a letterpress when I moved to New York City shortly after graduating from college. I studied book arts at the Center for Book Arts in New York, and, purchased my first press while working in the printing trades in NY as a print broker and graphic designer. I wanted to be able to set, print and play with my own type. I then went on to graduate school at the Yale School of Art where I was among the first class to work with typography on the Macintosh computer. I was thrilled to be able to play with type in a less labor intensive way then on a letterpress. After Yale, I continued my investigation of working with type on a computer by joining the early type design group at Adobe Systems in California, as a graphic designer and later as an art director. I switched my focus back to the letterpress seven years ago.
I noticed a lot of pieces are one offs -is there a reason for this? Its a lot of work to set the press up for one unique piece!
Most of the time, I never know what I am going to make when I set up to work. I have a vague idea that I will work with a word or a few letters and a color palette. Everything is left open to accommodate whatever direction things go. I mix colors as I am working and use brayers so I can work in a flexible way with a lot of colors. I want to be open to things happening by chance. Printing becomes an adventure this way. Sometime things don’t work out, and sometimes they do. I like to use the press as a mark-making tool rather than as a reproduction machine. Sometimes I work in a series within a color palette and a few letterforms but change the design as I make prints.
What inspires you to make these works?
I work from whatever is coming up for me at the time of printing.
Here at EAST END PRINTs we are very pleased to be working with such beautiful content -did you know there was a huge type trend going on in the UK ?
There has always been beautiful typography coming out of the UK and Europe. I have appreciated it my entire life. My first books about typography were all by European designers and typographers.
Is it the same in the US?
Letterpress and artist books are very popular in the US right now. This is a time of a huge renaissance.
I love the text based abstract shapes - do you think they have more appeal to an international market? non english speaking?
It’s a cliché now to say the internet is shrinking the world and connecting everyone. Roman letterforms speak to us in the western world as we use them everyday in myriad ways. Letter shapes are elemental forms and so are the words they make. We can all appreciate the shapes no matter what language we speak. But in our everyday lives we tend to focus less on the forms and more on the content. The forms are wonderful in themselves as objects of awareness. I am interested in making them more visible in order to open up our understandings of the way they make language, images, and stories in our minds.
All of your work has a positive and playful -if a little political message. Would you consider yourself a political person?
I don’t consider myself a political person. I am not an ideologue. Yet, I am interested in how all discourse is shaped by word imagery in the crafting and sculpting of messages, and in the consequential distortion of those messages. Political discourse, like advertising and propaganda, are areas where there is a heightened sensitivity to this dynamic. When we really look at the written words that are used in these contexts—specifically at the letters that make them, and the pictures they make in our minds—we get glimpses of how they are constructed to resonate on a deeper level than just their surface intention. I am interested in how words float in the discourse and how their meanings resonate or create stasis. I call attention to certain words and immortalize their seeming intransience by printing with an obsolete typesetting method on increasingly obsolete paper.
Can I ask...your opinion how you feel about what is going on with America at the moment and Obama - so recently winning the Nobel peace prize -do you feel this was a little premature?
I think that’s a question for the prize committee. Politics is a tricky messy business.
June 2011. Please contact East End Prints for more information email@example.com.