Mohawk Blog

Making With Mohawk

Rebecca Gatto
heimo, Eric Masi of Torque, Mohawk
Header image

As we look back on 2019, we reflect on the core of our mission – supporting and inspiring the maker community

As members of the creative community, we are in love with making—and we are always hungry. Our days are overwhelmed with inspiration: Instagram, magazines, books, blogs, our peers, our heroes. But while high on inspiration, many of us feel low on something just as important: opportunity.

Inspiration without making is like unrequited love. For many in the creative community, this is an ever-present struggle. There's always a limitation: projects, budgets, brands, directors, cultural gatekeepers. We are driven by the feeling deep inside that we just need the chance to make the work we know we can create—and the opportunity for our work to stand next to work we respect. 

So it’s only right that the last few months of 2019 were spent making art and having deep discussions with exactly the kinds of people who inspire us.

Through a series of three small workshops across the United States, we had the opportunity to engage and celebrate with the act of making for making’s sake. We teamed up with The Aesthetic Union, The Arm, and Double Trip Press, who each opened their doors to host three unique evenings of creation and discussion.

attendee at The Aesthetic Union
An Evening of Making
An attendee at The Aesthetic Union shows off her art. Photo: heimo
Demonstration at The Aesthetic Union
Demonstrating the Process
Chris Fritton, The Itinerant Printer, shows off his letterpress process so visitors can try for themselves. Photo: heimo
aesthetic union wide
A rainbow of ink
An attendee at The Aesthetic Union succeeds with Chris Fritton's inkwipe method. Photo: heimo
aesthetic union 3
Getting her hands dirty
An attendee gives letterpress a try. Photo: heimo
aesthetic union 4
Day-Glo Demonstration
Chris Fritton, The Itinerant Printer, shows visitors to The Aesthetic Union a bright print. Photo: heimo

The workshops weren’t exactly typical. Instead of honing technical skills to perfection, these gatherings celebrated the magic of inaccuracies, inconsistencies, and rule-breaking—in other words, the ongoing renaissance of analog print processes.

First, in October, Chris Fritton—also known as the Itinerant Printer—joined Mohawk at The Aesthetic Union. He showed the group how to use the letterpress in unintended ways to create artistic inkwipes that look like watercolor paintings. Artful on their own, they also make unexpected backdrops for typographic experiments. In addition to showing off new ways of thinking about letterpress specifically, Fritton asked participants to think about the tools and processes they use every day, and whether those materials could be approached in new and novel ways.

The Arm
Make with Mohawk at The Arm
Mohawk teamed up with The Arm, a public access letterpress studio, teaching facility and commercial print shop in Brooklyn, to create a hands-on Riso printing workshop. Photo: Mohawk
The Arm
Risograph drums in action
Risograph printing works like a cross between screen printing and photocopying. It's great for posters, graphic prints, zines, comics, and more. Photo: Mohawk
the arm wide
Opportunities to make
Visitors to The Arm relax and create. Photo: Mohawk
posters at The Arm
Eye-catching art
Posters at The Arm use bright ink and bold typography to tell a story. Photo: Mohawk
Artists at The Arm
Risograph printing
Attendees at The Arm work on their masterpieces. Photo: Mohawk

In November, Mohawk visited The Arm in Brooklyn for a Risograph (Riso) printing session. Riso was once an inexpensive way to print large quantities of informational material. They were utilitarian reproduction machines, occupying space in church basements or schools, and were best suited for lo-fi, ephemeral projects. Today, the relatively inexpensive startup cost and quirky appeal of Riso printing has attracted a following of experimental artists.

Off-registration, limited colors, and uneven ink transfer could be seen as challenges in traditional printing contexts, but at The Arm, these qualities are celebrated as intrinsic to the magic of Riso printing. Using scanned photos, cut and torn paper, and hand-drawn and traced art and lettering, the workshop’s attendees made unique, multicolor prints on Mohawk Superfine Eggshell Ultrawhite and a selection of Keaykolour shades. They left inspired to look for opportunity, and beauty, in the unexpected.

Letterpress printing
"Ways of Seeing" Print
Yellow ink is laid down for a two-color letterpress print at Double Trip Press. Photo: Eric Masi of Torque
showing off Ways of Seeing print
Ways of Seeing
Angie G. from Mohawk shows off a two-color "Ways of Seeing" letterpress print from Maker Quarterly 16. Photo: Eric Masi of Torque
A print at Double Trip
Double Trip Press
Inside Double Trip Press in Chicago. Photo: Eric Masi of Torque
Double Trip 4
Rallying the troops
Ryan Basile, principal at Double Trip Press, calls to the attendees at the workshop. Photo: Eric Masi of Torque
Double Trip 3
Getting the hang of it
Visitors at Double Trip Press enjoy seeing their work come together. Photo: Eric Masi of Torque

For the final event of 2019, Mohawk visited Double Trip Press in Chicago. Using two Vandercook letterpress printers, visitors to this beloved print shop got to make their own copies of the “Ways of Seeing” typographic design found in Volume 2: Voice of Mohawk Maker Quarterly Issue No. 16 – Community. The final print was a two-color letterpress print on lush Superfine Eggshell Ultrawhite 150 Cover that’s both eye-catching and thought-provoking.

As we kick off a brand new decade, we at Mohawk hope you’ll try out some new ways of seeing for yourself—and don’t forget to break a few rules while you’re at it.

Want a one-of-a-kind “Ways of Seeing” print made at Double Trip Press?

Yeah, we thought you might see it that way.

Enter Giveaway

Want to make your own, instead? Don't forget the Mohawk Printshop,

where you can try out Riso and digital printing—Letterpress coming soon.

Production Notes

Print Process
Risograph (RISO)

Materials Used

Suggested Articles

Maker Quarterly

Mohawk Maker Quarterly Issue #16: Community

Nothing is created in a vacuum. Our community—the always-evolving context of our physical, social, and emotional lives—has everything to do with how we make and view art.