Archive for the 'News' Category

Letterpress Open House

It’s time again for us to throw open our doors, hand you a beer and show you all that our letterpress studio has to offer. March 22nd we’re teaming up with our basement neighbors, Westwerk Design and Hennepin Made to host a basement block party. Glass blowing demos will be happening at Hennepin Made, Westwerk is flush with games (foosball anyone? darts? bubble hockey?) and of course we’ll have a poster on press as per tradition.

It’s a family friendly-ish event (we’ll have a kids activity) that starts at 4 and runs until we give up. So grab a coworker, a friend, and/or your mom and come on down. Oh, there’s a Facebook invite you can RSVP to, if you’re into that sort of thing.

URGENT: Help Keep College of Visual Arts Open

This is a call for your help. As a reader of Beast Pieces you may have wondered where a crazy letterpress shop like Studio On Fire began. Here is a little background story from company principal, Ben Levitz:

I went to College of Visual Arts (CVA) as a kid right out of high school. I choose it because of the small campus size and the fine arts focused BFA degree. I wasn’t sure what on earth I wanted to do with an “art” degree, but I knew I loved making things. And I liked that CVA wasn’t the slickest or fanciest campus. It seemed like a place for focused art exploration with an amazing faculty. I enrolled with my mother still skeptical. ( I think she was just nervous about sending her son off to do nude figure drawing. ) I embarked on a four year arts journey that taught me fancy words like chiaroscuro and gestalt. I learned about everyone from Hieronymus Bosch to Paul Rand. I even did my nerdy typography-based senior thesis on a fellow named William Dwiggins who designed typefaces for letterpress printing. I graduated with a BFA in Communication Design and a passion for visual culture.

I struggled during my schooling choosing between a design major and a sculpture major. I ultimately chose a design major because I wanted to eat. But after graduating CVA in 1998, I quickly found in my first design job a very different experience than the one I had as a CVA student. Most of my work day was locked into the glowing screens of design, not making stuff with my hands. And most of the stuff I did make, ended up in trash cans of clients. I sought change. I wanted to make stuff that people would love and keep. I wanted some outlet for craft that related back to my college experience. So, in the fall of 1999, my and evenings and weekend were spent beginning a letterpress printing space in my home basement. I called it Studio On Fire, named for the Typographer Frederick Goudy who twice lost his lifes work to studio blazes. Fast forward 14 years – the company Studio On Fire is  a best-in-class letterpress shop with a dozen employees and clients all over the world. Gestalten even published a recent book of projects that were printed in our studio.

Learning at CVA was one of those amazing life experiences that was so formative to my valuation and passion for craft and design. As Studio On Fire grows as a business, this is what we value. Craft. Design. It was that simple framework of learning that provided a chance for me to focus my passions and ultimately build a unique business that reflects the things I love.

The sudden announcement in January of CVA’s  closure was a bombshell. In addition to running Studio On Fire, I’m now busy as President of a group called CVA Action making the case to our creative community that CVA deserves a chance to stay open. Yes, it is going to take some big changes. It is going to require vision beyond what the current Administration and Board of Trustees could offer. This change is big and we have an amazing team of people stepping in to surround this effort. I believe those changes can be made and I am stepping up to play my part. This is vital to the Saint Paul community, vital to Minnesota, and vital to creativity. But we need your help.

I’m going to the mat and asking you to consider a gift of money to this vital part of our creative community. If you love what we do at Studio On Fire, you already recognize the value a creative education brings to business. I am hoping you care enough about this cause to contribute.

For more details about our fundraising campaign, visit our website CVA Action. Time is of the essence. This is our last, best hope to save our beloved school and make the needed changes so we can put CVA back on the path to a successful and sustainable future. Please make a donation in any amount today. (UPDATE: no longer taking donations, thanks to all who donated)

You can make this happen, and we are so grateful for your support.

Thank You.

Ben Levitz, Principal, Studio On Fire

Linotype: The Film

We are proud to be teaming up with AIGA Minnesota and the University of

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St. Thomas to bring a screening of Linotype: The Film to the Twin Cities. April 13th, 7pm, St. Thomas campus. Be there. Details available over on the AIGA MN website. “Linotype: The Film” Official Trailer from Linotype: The Film on Vimeo.

Letterpress Open House // Black Arts Warm Hearts

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New SOF website with expanded shop!

You may have noticed on your way to purchase a 2012 Studio On Fire Letterpress Calendar that studioonfire.com has a completely overhauled look! We’re pretty proud of the new site and have plans to add more features in the coming weeks.

Being the paper-oriented people that we are, our friends over at westwerk design handled the creation of the site for us. Not only were they were great to work with, but their studio is conveniently located just upstairs from our basement workspace.

Along with the new site is additional merchandise for the store! All of our classic items are still available, as well as the 2012 calendar and several new posters.

Above: Artisan Activist Poster, Crane Lettra Flo White 110C, 13″ x 19″, 2 Color Split Fountain on 2 Separate Plates + 1 Tonal Varnish

 

Above: Sunshine Poster, Crane Lettra Flo White 110c, 12″ x 16″, 3 Color Split Fountain

 

Above: Matter Into Spirit Poster, Crane Lettra Flo White 110c, 13″ x 20″, 2 Color Split Fountain + Blind Impression

 

 

AIGA MN Design Camp Event Recap

Yesterday we posted about our involvement printing the materials for AGIA MN’s 2011 Design Camp, but we thought it would be fun to share a peek into the event itself.

Ben (Principal), Selina (Studio Director) and David (Pre-press) were all up north participating as campers and Sam (Designer) was on the committee running the event, so Studio On Fire was well represented over the weekend. We had a booth up at the Friday night Business Expo where people were able to snag a paper airplane and pet assorted samples that we brought to show. Keynote speakers, a networking dinner, a variety of workshops, collaboration lunches and late night bonfires quickly filled the rest of the weekend.

Keynote speakers included Peter Buchanan-Smith (Best Made Company), Jamie Koval (VSA Partners), Michael Osborne (Michael Osborne Design), Jan Wilker (karlssonwilker), and  Josh Kenyon and Colby Nichols (Jolby), it was great to meet each of them. Special thanks to the dudes from Jolby for stopping by the studio after camp and going with us to grab patio beers- good times.

Enough chatter, on to the pictures! David took some great shots throughout the weekend (on actual film!) and Phong Tran (of dblthink.com and official AIGA MN photographer) was gracious enough to share some of his photos, since we were too busy playing with wild cats to bust out our cameras most of the time.

 

 

Iron Beasts Make Great Beauty

After a brief blogging hiatus we’re back with a project we’ve been bursting to share with you.

Nearly a year ago we worked with Gestalten publishers on this great video piece about our shop and we’ve been featured in some of their past publications–but now they are releasing a title all about Studio On Fire! Needless to say, we’re giddy.

The book features work designed by us, as well as work designed by clients, all of which was produced here in our Minneapolis location. Pictures of our ever expanding workspace also made it in alongside a forward written by our Principal.

Since we couldn’t, in good conscience, let a book about us not include any actual letterpress, all of the covers were letterpress printed at Studio On Fire and shipped off to meet the gutt of the book in the final stages of production. Due to the heavy 100 point thickness of the recycled cover boards, all of the covers were hand fed into our Gietz platen press. They are printed with a day glo ink using deep etch copper plates. We love the contrast of raw and refined created by the bright color next to the gray board.

It’s already shipping in Europe and will be released here in the states in late October. We got our hands on an advance copy, so we thought we’d share a bit of a sneak peek with you.

Letterpress Open House TONIGHT

Final reminder for our Love Machine Open House Party tonight. Hope to see you soon.

Leaving you with a beautiful thought about machines from Winter’s Tale by Mark Helprin:

“Machines challenge certainty so well. They should not be able to move. But they do. They turn, and move, and never cease — there is always an engine going, somewhere — like generations of silver hearts they keep the faith of the world and stoke imagination in its continued and splendid rebellion.”    Quote from “Winter’s Tale” by Mark Helprin ©1983

Love Machine – Letterpress Open House

You are invited to a party! We are loving our machines with plenty of oil and our guests with plenty of other social lubrications. Join us as we celebrate our new office and press room with an open house on Friday, February 11th begining at 4pm. Come and see some letterpress action and talk shop. We’ll have a limited edition project on press as free gift to party guests. Hope to see you here soon.

2011 Letterpress Calendar

The Studio On Fire Letterpress Calendar is a favorite project in our shop for nearly ten years. It’s been worked on by many contributors from all over the world. Each year Studio On Fire puts together a loose theme, color palette and paper choices, then we invite 5 other designers / illustrators to participate. We design 2 months, and each contributor designs 2 months. Its always nice to have a large cross section of stylistic approaches within a little package that sits on your desktop. And this year is no exception. 2011 participants include Studio On Fire Adam Garcia, Brian Gunderson, Jessica Hische, We Make It So, and Aesthetic Apparatus.

This years calendar is a departure from the usual graphic illustration in our previous versions. Our theme this year was “Letter Form Genus”, with many contributors incorporating type and lettering. We’ve not had a distinctly type related theme before, so this was extra fun. Some favorite details you’ll find are: a moustache wearing a monocle, a spider wearing a thong, a monkey skull on a snake skeleton, a hidden giraffe, and bacterial letter forms spelling “grow kindness.”

The calendar is printed all together on a large 26 x 20 size press sheet. It is trimmed down into 12 months on 3.25 x 5 inch cards. This year, the paper for the months and the outer wrap was a light brown Wausau Winter Wheat 100lb Cover. We design the tri fold outer wrap using bits and pieces of each months design, all mashed together and printed in a long strip.

The stand was a custom duplexed paper made from dark grey Fibermark Eviva Stone 100lbC and copper Stardream 111lbC paper stocks. Our easel stand design has a clever fold-out angled leg that reveals the inner metallic paper color. The grey stock is letterpress printed in one color metallic silver.

These are now available on our studio site.

We’ve been doing this calendar for almost ten years now and have been fortunate to have some really great people involved. See a couple previous years here: 2010 Calendar, 2009 Calendar, 2008 Calendar.

Letterpress Video at Studio On Fire

Gestalten TV was in our studio and put together a great video.


You can get the podcast on itunes here.

For their visit, we had a little project on press called “The Pressroom Creed” – printing on 220lb Lettra and will be available soon for sale on our site. It is an adaptation of the better known Rifleman’s Creed, but for letterpress printers. Seriously, everyone in our pressroom must memorize this and we say it together each morning.

Open Studio For MAPC Attendees

Lots of printmakers are sauntering about Minneapolis / St Paul this week for the Mid America Print Council conference. We welcome these attendees to visit our studio during the conference on Friday this week from 5-8 PM. Studio On Fire is one of the largest and most vibrant commercial letterpress shops in the Midwest. We produce custom letterpress work from designers around the world. Join us during these hours to talk shop, see the presses and ask questions. Sorry, our production schedule will not permit other visiting hours.

Our Address:

Studio On Fire, 1621 East Hennepin Avenue Suite B10, Minneapolis MN 55414

phone 612 379 3000

Note: make sure you map us for EAST Hennepin Ave.  – We are on the edge of Northeast, at 16th Ave SE and E. Hennepin. It’s about a 10 minute ride from downtown Minneapolis.