Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Letterpress... and Cotton

On Sunday we had the pleasure of meeting Amos Paul Kennedy, Jr., a noteworthy graphic artist who has mastered the art of letterpress printing.

Mr. Kennedy hails from west Alabama where the roots of my mother's family run deep. In fact, for a time, he lived in the small town of York, Alabama where my mother grew up.

Letterpress printing is graphic design in its purest, most tangible form... hand placing letters, crafting printing blocks, ink on fingers, metal clanging, hand turning crank, foot pushing pedal.

The print quality is rugged and crude possessing a unique texture and look. Mr. Kennedy's simple style is an enticing mix of grass-roots vernacular and sleek modern. His work is beautiful and inspiring.

I love Mr. Kennedy's business policy...
"Printing is what we do. You send the text and a check, and go home and pray. We do not know what will happen until we are at the press. The design of your poster is determined in real time. Sometimes we produce beautiful posters and at other times we produce BEAUTIFUL posters."

The customer is not always right. And, yes, you better believe he really is that good.

He let the boys each have a turn operating his letterpress.

They printed "Art changes lives" onto handmade paper. Boo chose to hang his poster in his room; I taped Tukes' print inside the door of our art cabinet.


All summer long I wanted to shoot some photos in a cotton field but it was hot and humid and buggy so I never took the time to drive through the country in search of the right place.

Wouldn't you know it... there is a small, picturesque cotton field right here in town on the grounds of the museum... somehow I missed it until this past Sunday when we met Mr. Kennedy. The joke is on me... it's now October but the cotton field is still snowy white. I got my photos without bothering any cotton farmers... although next time I think countryside rambling will be a fun adventure.