Do what you do.

Friday, January 6th, 2012

Over the summer on our annual Maine adventure, we took a day trip to visit Saturn Press. On remote Swan’s Island, off the coast of Mt. Desert, is a two person letterpress operation that sells over a million cards a year. One partner is the printer and the other focuses on design. Their cards are sold all over the country and if you check out most card shops you will inevitably run across one of their products.

We got the full tour, learning about their process from design to production. I was excited and surprised to realize that their entire (extremely successful) operation was done without a computer. There was no Adobe Illustrator and the term graphic designer was used to describe a person that still used a pencil and tracing paper. When I began to ask questions about the process of getting plates made from her original art, and expressedmy delight to learn about how they work, I admitted that I at the ripe age of 32 am obsolete. I actually feel like my incompetency with the computer is a huge detriment to my work, but I can render and have impeccable handwriting . The brassy owner was quick to point out that letterpress has been around for hundreds of years and Adobe Creative Suite has only become the gold standard of “graphic design” over the last twenty or so.

I road home on the boat thinking about all of the projects I have avoided doing because I am limited by my knowledge of a computer program. I can’t draft in AutoCAD, but I was one time pretty good with a pencil and triangle. I have never been a photorealistic drawer (which has always been a personal frustration) but once I began to accept my renderings as way to visually express an idea and not an exact representation of an existing object, I gained more freedom.

I still want to learn to use Illustrator. In fact that is on my list of goals for 2012. I also don’t want my lack of knowledge to stand in my way. Today I cleared off my desk, dug out my drawing board and began to work on a little project. My drawing skills are rusty, but I am jazzed to keep going… to see the end result.

I just finished Jerry Feinstein’s “A Season on the Brink.” Bob Knight, one of my childhood heroes played a system of basketball where each person has a role. You excel at what you are asked to do and the team will win. “Do what you do.” I saw that all over the walls of Saturn Press. They have a style, it works for them. They are more than excellent at their style of work. They do exactly what they do, and make no apologies for it.

Category : Letterpress

2 Responses to “Do what you do.”

  1. nsma says:

    Thank you. This is absolutely the mentality I needed for this week. It’s perfect.

  2. Danielle says:

    GO WHITNEY! I loved loved the holiday card, and I can not wait to see what you do next (put it on the blog!!!).

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