Adam’s Ale: a silk-screened letter-pressed poster

photo 2
Close up of screen printed image on third poster.

In May 2014 I’m set to graduate from the Center for Cartoon Studies with a Master of Fine Arts. Kind of awesome huh?

But there’s this thing I have to do between now and then, I like to call it ‘my thesis’. Or Adam’s Ale* – an anthology of of comics journalism and fiction pieces connected by a theme of water.

It’s no big deal, it’s just the most comics I have ever done in my whole life and possibly the hardest artistic endeavor I have ever embarked upon.

Thankfully, we have this class with James Sturm and Nicole Georges to help us develop our thesis projects.

The latest assignment from the Sturm-Georges teaching team is making several posters advertising our work.

And because I’m completely stark raving bonkers, I decided to make three posters that join together with three layers of colour screen print images and letter press type.

For those of you who don’t know, this is an extremely good way to lose two weeks of your life.

Just the design process, putting together different versions for critique, making corrections and drawing up the final artwork took a solid week.

Then the transparencies for the prints had to be done on regular paper and greased up with baby oil to allow light through, because I was too disorganised to order large plastic transparency sheets.

photo 1
Freshly screen printed posters on the drying rack.

Then I had to screen print the posters in the CCS lab, which would have been fine if I hadn’t tried to ‘save time’ by using a bunch of old screens graduates have left behind.

Because those screens? They had a tonne of marks on them and close to each burn I did was horribly flawed.

In the end I burned 10 useless screens when I only needed nine good ones.

This was not efficient and it took me all weekend.

Also I didn’t make any registration marks on the prints because I am a fool. This made the actual printing process take much longer too because I had to eyeball each page as I was sliding it under the screen.

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Bringing the center page out of the press was kind of thrilling!

Then I had to go to the nearby Dartmouth College on three separate occasions (totally 14 hours) to set the type and print the lettering on my posters.

A number of those hours were wasted by choosing a type (Craw Modern) that Dartmouth does not have in large numbers meaning I ran out of ‘o’ and ‘a’ pieces and had to start again, this time setting paragraphs in different sizes for my blurb.

Oh yeah and then I decided to completely change the wording any way.


Letterpress Adam's Ale
The page with the type at angles… and the insane set up in the press to get the text at those angles.

And there was this thing I did where I wanted words at angles – DO YOU KNOW HOW HARD THAT IS TO DO WITH A LETTERPRESS??!!

Did I mention that this is also only the second thing I have EVER letter pressed?

Yeah. Never really done it before.

I’d like to thank Sarah Smith, letterpress lady at Dartmouth, for all her patience with me (given that I’m not even a student there). Sarah is a wonderful, knowledgeable and kind person, who didn’t just help me print words on posters, she also brought me a sandwich and a brownie when I was hungry and stayed late so I could put all the type away (that takes like an hour, FYI) and was generally totally awesome when I was kind of quietly panicking about whether I could pull this off AT ALL.

Eleri with Adam's Ale poster
Looking pretty happy with the center poster!

But this morning I woke up and you know what I had? Freaking amazing looking posters. That’s right, totally cool and awesome pieces of art that I will keep forever!

The posters will be displayed as part of industry day in March and my thesis graduation in May.

Phew. And now to draw some comics!

*’Adam’s Ale’ is a ye olde term for water – the only beverage available to Earth’s first man.

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