When Johannes Gutenberg cobbled together the first letterpress in the mid-15th century, he could never have imagined the 21st century boutique revival of the labor-intensive, relief printing process. Though letterpress printing fell out of favor well before the advent of the computer, a new generation of design-savvy typenerds has resurrected the technique. Across the country, indie shops and art schools have acquired vintage letterpresses to meet the growing consumer demand for letterpress posters, books and wedding invitations. There has even been a rise in small-scale type foundries to create new metal typesets. Heck, iPhoto '11--the antithesis of the "get your hands dirty" letterpress mentality--now offers the one-click option to have a team of Apple letterpress artists turn your family photos into hand-printed Christmas cards.
Amid all this letterpress revival chaos, printer Amos Paul Kennedy--a self-proclaimed "humble negro printer" who sports overalls and has an aversion to being called an artist--keeps chugging away, doing what he loves. Kennedy is known for creating provocative letterpress posters that "address the conundrums and outrages of race relations in contemporary America with irreverent humor and verve."
Kennedy is the subject of a new documentary, Proceed and Be Bold, put together by first-time director/producer Laura Zinger. Boise State's AIGA student club and the art department's Visiting Artist and Scholar Program will sponsor a free screening of the documentary on Friday, Nov. 5, at 7 p.m. followed by an informal Q & A with Kennedy. Also, if you're in the Nampa hood, be sure to check out the exhibit "Amos P. Kennedy Jr.: Humble Negro Printer," which is up at the Friesen Gallery at Northwest Nazarene University until Dec. 10. There will also be a special conversation with Kennedy in the Friesen Gallery at 11 a.m. on Thursday, Nov. 4, and an opening reception later that night from 5-7 p.m.