Kim Bentley and Kyle Van Horn of Baltimore Print Studios. Photo courtesy of Baltimore Print Studios.
Update 3/20/14 12:55 p.m.: Added additional information from Van Horn about using polymer plates. Also, the studio's March bookbinding workshop is now sold out, but find out more about future workshops by signing up for the Baltimore Print Studios' e-mail newsletter.
Walking into the studio space of on North Avenue is a bit like traveling back in time. It’s not every artists’ space that has 13 letterpresses, machines there were considered “high-tech” a century ago, according to Kyle Van Horn.
Van Horn, 33, is the technician for the printmaking department at the Maryland Institute College of Design, as well as the cofounder of the Baltimore Print Studios. in the Station North Arts and Entertainment District. Since then the studio has grown larger — it’s now 1, 800 square feet — but what distinguishes Baltimore Print Studios is that it’s a public-access letterpress studio that .
“The public access aspect was novel, ” said Bentley, a freelance graphic designer who received her master’s in graphic design at MICA. The closest similar type of shop, they said, is the nonprofit in Silver Spring.
During their peak season, which runs from about September through December, as many as 40 people will stop into the studio per month to use their letterpress and screen printing machines. Baltimore Print Studios has about 60 different kinds of metal-type fonts, and about 75 different kinds of wood-type fonts.
Find more photos of Baltimore Print Studios below.
But what explains the use of technology today that traces its origins to the 1400s when ? A combining of modern font-types with old printing techniques.
“The modern letterpress industry has been revived because people have figured out how to print modern on old machines, ” Van Horn said, a process that generally involves creating a custom font or a custom design in a program like Adobe Illustrator, and then putting that design onto a polymer plate.
“The polymer plates are photosensitive. After exposure and developing, you’re left with a raised surface in the shape of your image, ” he said. “This is put on the press, just as the type would be, inked and printed.”
Van Horn and Bentley hold open studio hours four days a week, in addition to . They also do some of their own commercial business from their shop. When Technical.ly Baltimore visited, they had just finished the printing for a poster for Baltimore band Wye Oak.
Baltimore Print Studios rents its letterpress and screenprinting equipment by the hour.
One of 13 letterpress machines inside the studio.
Another letterpress machine.
Limited Edition Prints
Over the last year or so Art Business News has had some very good articles on producing and publishing limited editions and on copyrights for artists. If you are represented and published by a gallery, publisher or agent, pay close attention to exactly what is published and how it is numbered. For example, if your agreement is an edition of 250, and they produce and sell 100 additional "artists proofs" of the same image, it could compromise your reputation and integrity. In setting an edition limit, consider if you want to market the same image in different sizes and materials. And ensure any agreement you enter provides for a regular inventory report to you on what's been published and sold