Here’s the story of how we came to know the creative minds behind Print & Press Canton and a behind the scenes look at their collaborative.
For our photography business rebrand a couple years ago we decided to have letterpress cards made. We wanted something hand-touched, something imperfect with a certain nostalgia to it. A local friend recommended a gal who had her own print press set up in a local artists studio downtown. It sounded perfectly grassroots to me so we contacted Letterpress Jess and started the design process. We LOVED her work and especially love the work she did for us! It was exactly what we wanted. We love being a part of grassroots projects like this and this one evolved ever so naturally that we continued to keep up with Jess and her creative projects after that.
Enter Print & Press Canton.
Meet Jess & Amy. One part Letter Press Jess + One part Little Chicago Clothing Co. The creative minds behind Print & Press – A collaborative + creative studio and shop for all things printed and pressed.
They announced that their collaborative was coming to downtown and we couldn’t wait to see this project come to life.
It came full circle one random evening when a friend tagged me in an Instagram post by Little Chicago Clothing Co. who was looking for brand ambassadors for their Canton clothing line. A few weeks later, I was wearing one of the most comfortable hand-printed shirts I’ve ever worn. Our tiny city has been growing over the last several years and we couldn’t be more excited about it. Our favorite coffee shops, restaurants and breweries are now all downtown!
We love artists and entrepreneurs and even more artist-entrepreneurs. This story is so inspiring to us and we really wanted to share their story, so we met up with Jess and her creative cohort Amy for a look behind the scenes! Here’s what they had to say!
Why did you want to become a _______ small business owner…?
Amy: “Well, I guess I’m many things. I’m an art teacher, a practicing artist, a small business owner… I think the spark behind all of these roles comes out of my creative nature. I’m filled with ideas, and I want to make our community a better place through creative endeavors.”
How did you get your start in the creative/maker industry?
Amy: When we decided to launch Little Chicago Clothing Co. it came from our own desire for more cool things to be available for Canton and Stark County. Greg and I have made our home here, and we’re here to stay. We want to live in a place that’s awesome and unique, and we knew that we could contribute to the revitalization movement that’s underway in Canton (just like other Rust Belt cities). So, we created Little Chicago Clothing Co. and are building a brand that develops the kind of culture we’d like to see in our fair city and other communities across Ohio. Great design and style + local pride + high quality.
What do you think of the state of your industry/the creative lifestyle right now?
Jess: “There’s never been a better time to do the creative thing, any creative thing. Craft and flea markets are drawing shoppers in droves and local pride is through the roof here in Canton. “Shop Local” is no longer a trendy mantra. It’s a real movement among people of all ages to seek out genuine products, to care how well they are made and to meet the people making them. I’m thrilled to play even a small part in it and encourage anyone who is on the verge to just jump in.”
Amy: “Being a creative is one of those push-pull roles where you’re constantly thinking of new things to design and projects to begin. But, at the same time, you have to balance that creative energy with pragmatism – completing your current work to an excellent degree and in a timely fashion, so that you have the resources, time and energy to actually tackle those new things on your list of “big ideas.” I think I struggle most with patience, as a creative. I’m always ready to dive into things, or anxious to take the next step. I’m thankful that I have life and business partner like Greg, who is great with knowing when he needs to lasso me in, and when he can let go of the rope.”
What keeps you going on those long days of self-discipline?
Amy: “When you love what you do and you believe in it, it doesn’t feel like work – even if you’re really working tail off. So, for the most part, even the long days are pretty fun. As longs as I have a goal that I’m always working toward, I’m good. Now, there are certainly some tasks that I don’t enjoy doing with respect to our business, and I tackle those in a variety of fashions. Sometimes, I’m disciplined, and I accomplish those first, so that I can enjoy the rest of the items on my to-do list. Sometimes, I manage to pawn off the tasks I’m not crazy about on Greg, who often enjoys doing a different sort of work than I (lucky for me). And, sometimes, I’m a procrastinator, finding all sorts of “important” things to do instead of the perceived drudgery that I really should be doing. It’s a mixed bag of strategies.”
What’s it like working in a collaborative + creative space:
Amy: “We (Amy & her husband Greg) feel really fortunate to have developed this partnership with Jess (and Doug, Jess’s husband) because each member of our little 4-man printing army brings a unique set of respective talents and abilities. It makes us a balanced, and well-rounded collaboration, and I wish I could say that was part of the grand plan, but we were really just lucky, I suppose. I think the nature of our differences makes us successful in so many aspects. We have this diverse bank of awesome creative energy, but we also have a great set of checks and balances because each partner brings good topics for consideration to the table.”
What does five years from now look like for you?
Jess: “About the same? Print will still be my life. By day, magazines (About Magazine). By night, putting ink on paper in the studio. I hope I will be doing more shows for Letterpress Jess and offering workshops on printmaking in the studio. And of course, helping Print & Press become even more successful than it is now (in just three months in business!)”
What’s the story/heart behind your work?
Amy: “My husband, Greg, and I are in Canton for the long haul. I’m an Akron native, he’s from Canton. We love the Rust Belt. This is our home, and we want our city to be awesome, so we’re going to do something about it. We found ourselves always looking for cool graphic tees for Canton and Stark County, and no one was making them. We waited and waited, and finally we just decided to do it ourselves. Thus, Little Chicago Clothing Co. was born.”
What/who are your biggest influences and why?
Jess: I admire many letterpress outfits and their work: Cranky Pressman, in Salem, to start. Oddball Press in Cleveland is top notch and we carry them in the shop. Igloo Letterpress in Columbus—they have grown from a one-woman operation to an entire team over the course of 10 or so years. And there’s Sara and Bobby Rosenstock in Marietta at justAjar Design Press. They design and carve wood blocks by hand to make amazing gig posters, several of which I own. And, you know, basically anything by Rifle Paper. I could go on and on. There are incredible letterpress studios in just about every city across the U.S., too many to name, each doing unique and exciting work. When my husband-slash-business manager Doug and I travel, we try to visit them. The last one was Grove Street Press in New Orleans. I’ve got a pinboard of some of the work I find truly exceptional. It has served as both a shopping list and an ever-growing list of aspiration. You can see it here: https://www.pinterest.com/letterpressjess/letterpressed/.
What secret projects or ideas have you, if any?
Jess: They wouldn’t be much of a secret if I spilled the beans, right? So I’ll only give you one: I’m working on a collection of 80s pop culture letterpress posters. It’s an involved project, but I’ve got a few concepts started, including The Last Unicorn and The NeverEnding Story, my two favorite childhood movies.
We’re so impressed with these ladies, their dream and drive to make it happen and we absolutely LOVE their creation! We’ve not been paid to say these things, we just really get inspired by artist/entrepreneurs!
Shop online and see what we mean! www.printandpresscanton.com