In a world where we are surrounded by technology, Kyle Hawley, an artist based in Austin, Texas, thinks of paper as an original technology:
LetterPress Play: a blend of play and art
LetterPress Play, owned and run by Hawley, has a studio of presses as well as a new retail store on South Congress Avenue in Austin, Texas.
Hawley describes it as ‘…my thesis that got out of hand.’ She was studying at the Art Center College of Design in Los Angeles to become an art director when she wandered into the letterpress room, where the power of these machines changed everything. She loved playing with the different printing presses and creating art out of paper.
Becoming a mom helped Hawley rediscover the simple joys of play and its importance.
“Play”, Hawley says, “is what we learn through…If you’re a fine artist, how many people does it reach? If you’re a commercial artist, that reaches a lot of people, but what’s the point? I hope the point is the moment, the joy, the sharing, the playfulness. The rest shouldn’t be a burden.”
The power of paper, the ‘original’ technology
Hawley points out that most of us couldn’t tell another person how a smartphone works exactly… yet with a letterpress machine, even antique ones, you can see it working, and you can figure it out, maintain and repair it.
“We think about technology in the present, but … paper was the first democratic place for sharing ideas. It wasn’t just from someone’s mouth to the next. You could record it. You could hold it in your hand,” she says.
There is something inherently satisfying about using an antique machine to do the same job they were designed to do 100 years ago.
Hawley hopes that LetterPress Play’s new storefront will create a sense of community for artists in the local area. It stocks notecards and other stationery from herself and other artists, art supplies, even clothing, paper lanterns, maps, and paper toys designed by Hawley for people to build.
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