In anticipation of our next Hand-Eye Supply Curiosity Club, we've asked our speaker, Katy Meegan, to share some insight with us on her work. Katy Meegan is a letterpress printer, bookbinder, teacher and artist. She is the co-owner of Keeganmeegan & Co. and a member/co-founder of Em Space Book Arts Center. Meegan will be speaking next Tuesday, March 8th at the Hand-Eye Supply store in Portland at 6PM.
Curiosity Club: What is Book Art and Letterpress?
Katy Meegan: They are two of my favorite things (next to smoothies). They are also seemingly infinite and filled with possibilities. In the most literal sense, Book Art is a book created by an artist and Letterpress is a printing method used for relief printing. What separates letterpress from other relief printing methods is it's use of a raised surface (or form), that gets inked up and pressed onto paper to deliver a right reading image. True book art supposedly started with William Blake in 1800s and letterpress as we know it today began with Gutenberg in the 1455.
What specific tools or rare equipment do you use? What do these tools do?
I use a plethora of tools to get jobs done, ranging from tabletop lead cutters, a paper drill, an exacto knife, to a 1700 lb proofing press. I don't know if I would call this equipment rare... it's more so highly sought after due to our generation's interest in letterpress printing. Being that letterpress was the main printing application for 400+ years, there is a bounty of equipment and supplies, people just don't generally sell it unless they have to.
These tools are magic. And there are way to many to count, name, and describe individually.
My favorite tools are a printer's ruler and an exacto knife.
How do you integrate traditional and new technologies in your process? In what way do new technologies affect the final products?
I will use a computer to produce printing plates for commercial work, being that sometimes designs will be composed, typeset and illustrated on the computer. Primarily for personal work I use handset type and cuts, annexing modern technology from the process when possible.
Plates struggle to compare to the experience and printing quality of lead type, our modern ways although efficient can lack the high quality and craftsmanship that was once more valuable to the industry than cost efficiency.
Can you speak about the evolution of your process as a designer mentioning specific milestones (past and forthcoming)?
In the past all designers were really printers composing forms, making flourishes, logos, etc...only Illustrators would be involved in making custom headers and spot illustration, the graphic designer as we know it today is a really recent phenomenon.
If anything, I've been learning and growing my knowledge of how good design used to be achieved, by constraints and availability of materials.
Please share with us five things you never leave home without and why.
-Ruler, everything is in the details
-Music, it makes me dance
-Comfy shoes, flat out very important
-Exacto knife, lots of trimming and slicing always
-Warm tea, because Portland is cold sometimes
Are there any resources or links you'd like to share?
Em Space Book Arts Center
Minnesota Center for Book Arts
Independent Publishing Resource Center
Keeganmeegan & Co.
About the Curiosity Club
Ex Curiositas, Scientia. We pledge to learn with out prejudice in pursuit of our mutual goal; perpetual noviceship. We admit that it is impossible to know everything about anything and thus we remain perpetually curious and perpetually novice.
Each meeting of the Hand-Eye Supply Curiosity Club will contain a 18-28 minute lecture from a speaker who has an area of knowledge that appeals to the curiosity club. The presentation will be videocast on the Core77 blog along with any presentation materials. The series highlights an eclectic group of speakers across a broad range of subjects dictated by our curatorial interests in the areas of Culture, Design, Science, Technology, Art, Fabrication and Design Techniques and Lost Common Knowledge.