Amidst printing presses, racks of type and dogs who roam the open space, students work to sew the binding of 65 copies of this year’s Book Arts Collaborative artist’s book.
Partnered with Tribune Showprint, the immersive learning class hosts the “Interrobang Wayzgoose” at the end of the spring semester every year. At the event, the artist’s book is released and speakers from all over the Midwest present while other printers sell their own products.
Traditionally, a wayzgoose was a celebration in the fall to mark the transition from printing in daylight to printing by candlelight, but today, it has become more of a networking event.
“In more modern times, it has become a way for those of us who still work traditionally to trade ideas and to get to know each other and network so that way we know other people around who do the same things as us,” said Paige Baker, a senior graphic arts management major who has worked with Book Arts Collaborative for three years.
The Interrobang Wayzgoose event is free and will be held April 12-13 at Tribune Showprint. 65 copies of South Bend artist Kelcey Parker Ervick's book, Defunct, will be sold for $60 at the event.
Tribune Showprint is a large piece of the puzzle when it comes to printing the book and finding printers to invite to Interrobang.
Kim Miller, the owner, first became interested in printing after taking a printmaking class in college. That summer, her husband Rob bought her a printing press of her own.
Throughout the summer, Miller experimented with hand carving and created one of her favorite block prints: a steampunk-like owl.
“I made one [eye] like a gear, one was a clock, and I forget what I did for the wings,” Miller said. “Instead of it looking like feathers, it was more decorative with linework that kind of looked like … some of the old vintage steampunk-looking stuff.”
Miller said she enjoys hand carving more than creating designs digitally because it is calming for her.
“Working with my hands and having that complete control over what I'm doing is, to me, just like a happy place,” Miller said.
With her new found interests, Miller joined multiple printer groups on Facebook, and one day, she came across a post from a woman who needed help in her shop.
Miller and her husband traveled to Idaville, Indiana, to help, but when they got there, they realized she was looking to sell her business altogether.
At first, Miller tried to help connect the woman with other potential buyers, but after she walked into the shop for the first time, her mind had changed.
“By the time we talked to her, we found out it was us or no one at that time,” Miller said. “They were going to get rid of all of it –– just kind of by auction –– so [Rob and I] talked about it for a while and decided we wanted to try, and then ended up being able to pull it off.”
In 2016, Tribune Showprint traveled two hours from its home in Idaville to the Madjax building in downtown Muncie.
“[Rob and I] both love what Muncie’s got going on and the upswing and the arts and everything else that’s going on,” Miller said. “We wanted to be part of it.”
While Miller frequently answered questions with “we,” referring to her and her husband, her husband said the shop is solely hers.
“It’s her thing,” Rob Miller said. “I help her out, but it’s her shop.” He declined to be interviewed any further.
While Miller has only owned the shop for a few years, some of the company’s clients have been utilizing Tribune Showprint’s services since 1984, including New York-based artist George Horner.
Horner said he started ordering posters from Tribune Showprint after noticing the company printed the Blues posters he often saw in Chicago.
“It’s analogue; it’s not digital at all,” Horner said. “I love the kind of spongy quality of the printing process.”
Horner said he has used the company to print business posters but also to print funny statements his mother used to say before she died.
“It’s a matter of doing these very sort of personal and private statements and making them public and sharing them with people,” Horner said. “What better way to do that than with a poster?”
With the same personal mentality, Horner also said he displayed Tribune Showprint posters at his friend’s memorial service last weekend.
“I grabbed some I thought were pertinent to my friend,” Horner said. “A couple of them I brought that I made recently said ‘the best things in life aren’t things.’ So that’s one of the posters I brought that Tribune Showprint printed. And it’s true, the best things in life aren’t things –– it’s friendship and love.”
Horner said he signed and handed out all of the Tribune Showprint posters at the end of the memorial.
Today, Tribune Showprint still maintains a large clientele base, both locally and throughout the U.S., but they also sell products made by Book Arts Collaborative students.
Cards, coasters, books and posters line the small store within the print shop for guests to browse whenever they come in.
Soon, the artist’s book, full of watercolor painting and poems by South Bend artist Kelcey Parker Ervick, printed for Interrobang will also sit on the shelves.
Baker, who has also interned with Miller, said the interrobang — a symbol that is a combination of a question mark and an exclamation mark — is an important punctuation mark that has been cut from the English language but is still used by printers.
One of Baker’s roles this semester was to design the T-shirts for this year’s event, which will also be available for purchase. To tie them into the theme of the book, she said she focused on the interrobang.
“Every year we heavily feature the interrobang,” she said. “This year, we’re doing blueprints for the front and back covers of our book, so I thought it would be cool to take the interrobang and take the individual parts typographically.”
Although days in the shop can often be cluttered and frantic, with type everywhere and dogs underfoot, the work always gets done.
Miller said that Tribune Showprint means a lot to her because even though she makes posters every day, the day is always different.
“Even on the hard days, I walk away saying, ‘I don’t hate this,” Miller said.
Contact Hannah Gunnell with comments firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @hagunnellNEWS.
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