ARTS 618
Typography and Printmaking for Artist's Books, via Chance Operations

Robin Price

Please note that the necessary factor of surprise inherent in the use of chance operations and randomness prohibits the instructor from revealing certain details of our journey before class begins.

Using the Print Shop

Grades will not be given for a student until all his/her type distribution is carefully and accurately completed. Respectful handling of resources available in the printmaking studio is required. Please wear comfortable clothing (nothing too baggy on top) that is okay to get dirty. Long hair must be pulled back when printing. Wear open-toed shoes at your own risk. Use sign up sheets for press time (explained in class).

Open Studio Non-Class Time

You will need to  attend several open studio times in order to complete the course work. We’ll see what’s best schedule for everyone, but tentative open studio times are as follows:

            Wednesday 25 June: 1—5 pm
            Tuesday 1 July: 6—9 pm
            Wednesday 2 July: 1—5 pm
            Thursday 3 July: 6—9 pm
            Saturday 5 July or Sunday 6 July: TBA
            Monday 7 July: 6—9 pm
            Tuesday 8 July: 9 am —12 noon, 6—9 pm
            Wednesday 9 July: 1—5 pm, 6—9 pm

Suggested Materials List

cutting mat and X-acto knife,  bone folder, ruler, sewing needles and thread. Please note that we do have limited supplies on hand, so please don’t feel you must purchase  if it’s not something you want to keep. First day: please bring a wide, inexpensive paint brush or two (think hardware store variety or foam), in the range of one to four inches wide.


Robert Bringhurst, The Elements of Typographic Style (Hartley & Marks, 3rd ed.)    
Kathan Brown, John Cage: Visual Art: to sober and quiet the mind (Crown Point)
Ellen Lupton, Thinking with Type (Princeton Architectural Press)
Ed. Jerome Rothenberg & Steve Clay, A Book of the Book (Granary Books)
Ed. Jerome Rothenberg & David Guss, The Book, Spiritual Instrument (Granary)

Course Schedule
June 23

Warm-up exercise: work made according to instructions given during the process; involves principle of randomness.

Introduction, syllabus, tour of studio & equipment

Discussion of Ellen Lupton book, Thinking with Type

Discussion of visual communication, esp typography & design, and text linked with imagery. Samples shown.

Demonstration of hand type composition, hand-setting blocks & press lock-up

Begin first project, “Call and Response”: postcard project, two students per card, working in blind collaboration. Incorporates text and image. Each student does an initial “call” and a subsequent “response” to another’s call. If a “call” is typographic, the “response” is a block print (chosen from provided photoengravings, cuts, and wood type), and vice-versa. Small edition; each student will keep a set of cards.

Reading assignment: selections from Bringhurst, Elements of Typographic Style

June 24

Making a layout guide for going to press

Printing demonstration of type & blocks

One-half of class prints type; the other half prints blocks.

Distribution of cards for printed “response”

June 26

Finish printing responses

Distribute type

Collate sets, brief review & technical questions

Demo for making a paper folder to house the cards

Reading assignment for next week.

Tiny assignment for finding a book to bring to class for day 2 of next week, to be used in the beginning of main project.

June 30

Visit to Wesleyan Library, Dept of Special Collections & Archives: looking at artist’s books. Our discussion about concepts and their expression via typography, design, imagery, sequence, flow, structure, etc will be most enhanced by having done the assigned reading beforehand. Choose a book on which to write a short essay/review, due Tuesday 8 July.

Demonstration of pochoir (hand stenciling) and collage, using dry mount press with heat-activated dry mount film.

Assignment: unique book with element of chance made of pre-printed and blank paper, manipulated by hand using a combination of water-based media and collage. Due Thursday.

Remember to bring a book to class tomorrow, for our main book project.

July 1

Begin main project, using books brought by students  (note: we will not be using them in any physical way, other than reading).

Full explanation of project, which begins with our working together as a group this week, then individually completing one or more books next week.

Group editorial decisions; type composition assigned.

Chance operations to determine certain variables.

Explanation of using photopolymer plates, and how to order via (not required for class)

Get started on type composition.

First press run locked-up for tomorrow

July 3

Unique books due; reviewed in class.

Presentation (PowerPoint) of John Cage methodology and contemporary artist’s books that involve chance and randomness. Why work with chance?

Additional group decisions, made by chance and choice

Printing begins for main project, continues through weekend.

July 7

Demonstration of alternative imaging techniques on the letterpress.

Type distribution.

Collation of all sheets printed as a group, then individually distributed for final phase of project.

Instructor will bring her own & others’ artists’ books. Handle with clean hands.

In-class studio time.

July 8

Due: essay/review of artist’s book from Special Collections.

Book binding demo.

In-class studio time for final project, individual consultations.

July 10

Finish type distribution.

Completed books due at 3 pm. Bring stamped, protective mailing envelope or pkg for return of final books, or plan to pick up at GLSP office .

Final critique at instructor’s studio in Middletown