Molly Poganski is the printer and shop manager at the Living Letter Press in Champaign. When not printing up “Hey Girl!” cards or roller derby posters, Molly teaches workshops that take participants back in time with blocks of wood type, the rythmn of the press and the smell of fresh ink.
What was your first piece? What inspired you to create it?
I think the first commercial piece we did at the Living Letter Press were the posters for the 2011 Pygmalion Music Festival. Very fun project. The poster is based on a traditional show poster look, similar to that of Hatch Show Print, for example.
How did you get into making your creations?
I learned about letterpress while attending Indiana University and was hooked immediately. The Living Letter Press opened after a Kickstarter campaign and the creation of our “sister project,” an app called LetterMpress, which simulates the process of letterpress printing on the iPad.
Describe your creative process.
My process is sometimes based on a client’s needs (commercial work) and sometimes based on other inspiration. At the studio every day I’m surrounded by hundreds of pieces of wood type, which most of our work is printed from. There’s an endless supply of words and imagery you can create from the type, and the amount of freedom we have to be creative and experiment really depends on the project.
What drew you to your chosen medium?
The look of letterpress is distinct; each piece of wood type has its own knicks, dents, and idiosyncrasies. It looks old (it is old) and rustic, which I love. It has a warm Americana sort of feel to it. Also, I really enjoy the process of setting type. It’s time consuming, but for me it’s a puzzle you get to figure out and then print with. A puzzle that produces art in the end. I love that.
What is your favorite part of the creative process? What is your least favorite part?
My favorite part is probably setting the type to print, and then pulling the first prints off the press. You can never quite tell what your print will look like until you’ve pulled one; there’s always a little bit of mystery and risk. My least favorite part (and I think this is universal among printers) is cleaning the press.
What keeps you inspired/what inspires you?
Old things. Abstract type and type as image. Vintage typography. Linocut and woodcut. Hatch Show Print, Yee Haw Industries, Hammerpress, and a hundred other printers and print shops.
What do you do when you’re not making art?
Outside of work, I cook a lot, play the drums, root through thrift stores, ride a bicycle, and hang out with my cat Gus.