UT Austin Letterpress shop NOW OPEN

When I had first heard that the University of Texas at Austin was in possession of a really killer collection of type, the news was delivered to me in a hush hush sort of manner. Gaining access to UT letterpress equipment was not likely even as a printmaking grad student, and as far as I knew it, the shop itself was a myth.

However, having opened its doors to the greater UT Austin student body JUST this semester, I’m proud to announce that the UT Austin letterpress shop is indeed REAL and in the hands of a particularly interesting print person. Holding the position as shop manager for the Publication Studio in the UT Austin Design Division, Kevin Auer brings a boatload of experience and expertise to the recently renovated UT letterpress shop. Letterpress printing and bookbinding off and on over the past 20 years, Auer has helped open and run several letterpress shops around the country including Wolfe Editions, his own personal shop (RIP), Dolphin Press at the Maryland Institute College of Art and more. Pooling his own personal resources together (sometimes) to ensure the shop will meet student’s needs, Auer is part historian, part technician, and all perfectionist at heart. Sneak a peek at the UT Austin Rob Roy Kelly American Wood Type Collection or scroll down the page for pics of the new digs.

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“Opening a university shop is very different from a commercial shop,” said Auer. “There is less concern with production capacity and greater attention to meeting the needs of students. Opening a university shop is also much more of a group endeavor. I have worked directly with Visiting Assistant Professor Colin Frazer and Assistant Chair Carma Gorman over the last few months getting everything up and running. And while working within the constraints of a university environment can be challenging, the rewards of seeing a student pull his or her first print more than make up for it.”

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“There are a lot of exciting things going on with letterpress printing right now. I think that there are a number of artists who are really pushing the boundaries associated with new technologies. Book artists like Russell Maret and Ken Campbell are doing incredible things with polymer. Designers like Nick Sherman are exploring the potential of CNCs in producing new letterforms. And Julie Chen and others are making increasingly complex structures with the aid of laser cutters and other tools. All this work is blurring the boundaries between craft, design, and art, which in turn is challenging many of the preconceived hierarchies associated with these fields. My personal opinion is that this exchange of ideas across disciplines is contributing to the production of some of the most exciting print work that has been produced in years,” added Auer.

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Care to tour? Contact Kevin Auer at deslab2@gmail.com. Bring him a Magnetic Fields or Yo La Tengo cassette tape, and he’ll be extra cooperative.


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Categories: Printshop Tour, Studio Visit

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