As a magazine, we’ll admit: We’re firm believers in the power of words, visuals, and all things print. Luckily for us — and other like-minded folks — a new festival aims to celebrate just that.
Early this month, Signal-Return, the Eastern Market letterpress shop known for its original posters, cards, and other print goods, will host its first Power of the Press Fest. The five-day, citywide event (April 5-9) is centered on the long but far from lost art of traditional letterpress printing and will showcase a variety of print, literary, and visual art forms.
The weekend’s programming will include readings from local writers and poets, art exhibitions showcasing typography and design, hands-on workshops exploring poster design, investigative practices, screen printing, and a free, family-friendly festival where over 30 artists and vendors will be selling their print-based work. On-site demonstrations of letterpress printing, papermaking, book binding, and more will also be a part of the event’s final day.
According to Lynne Avadenka, festival organizer and director of Signal-Return, the event’s purpose is not only to bring Detroit’s letterpress community together, but also to share the power of print with the community at large.
“All of this is really about putting the messages in the hands of anyone who wants to participate,” Avadenka says. “To celebrate this whole idea of printing, of making more than one, of being that democratic multiple as a vehicle to share ideas, whether they’re visual, political, or text-based.”
In recent years, traditional letterpress printing has enjoyed a revival in cities such as New York and Seattle, and Detroit is no exception.
Aside from Signal-Return, which opened in 2011, other local letterpress studios include the Detroit Wood Type Co. and Ocelot Print Shop, both of which will be hosting workshops during Power of the Press Fest.
But whether attendees take home new skills from a workshop or just stop by and purchase a new decorative print, Avadenka hopes the major takeaway from the festival will be a feeling of accessibility and opportunity.
“I hope people see the breadth of creativity that is inherent in the print community in Detroit, and that it’s open to them, either to be participants, collectors, or enthusiasts,” she says. “And it’s another way to bring people in to the Eastern Market neighborhood.”