Tag Archive for 'twin cities'

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

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

Emerging Designer Video About Studio On Fire

AIGA_emerging_designer

AIGA Minnesota put together a short video about our studio on their emerging designers web site. Check it out:

emergingdesigners.minnesota.aiga.org

“Studio On Fire is a design workspace and letterpress printer in Minneapolis, MN backed by in-house modern letterpress printing capabilities…”

Thanks AIGA Minnesota. And a massive thanks to SevnthSin for putting this together. (You made my rambling sound coherrent!)

AIGA booklet, Student Tours, Chocolate

We’ve been busy with an AIGA student event this last weekend called Portfolio One-On-One. It’s an event for design students to tour studios in the Twin Cities, have their books looked at and attend some short workshops. We had a group through our studio to see the press room and we also did a workshop about “Planning design with specialty production techniques.” Good times.

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We also printed a booklet cover for this AIGA event. We hit the bejesus out of an 80lb cover stock and thought we’d show what the other side looks like. Granted, we don’t run everything this heavy. But a thinner stock with a heavy impression is going to have more show through than a thicker stock with the same impression. On this booklet, nothing was on the reverse side, so it did not matter that the impression was extra hard.

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A note about tours – We have student groups from all over the country take tours of our shop and we are happy to do it. However, none of them have ever sent us a box of chocolate with a thank you note. That is until Brigham Young University. Thanks BYU. And to all the other student groups inquiring about tours – we now expect some edibles! ;-)

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