Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The Itinerant Printer Revives a Printerly Tradition by Visiting the TBAS

Letterpress printer and book artist Chris Fritton turned the TBAS into his personal studio for a few days last week as part of his year-long project called “The Itinerant Printer.” Fritton is traveling the nation in part to renew the lost tradition of tramp printers—printers’ apprentices who left the Master Printer’s shop where they had learned the craft of printing to travel and see more of the world, finding work in other places and learning other printing techniques before opening their own print shops.

Taking advantage of Chris’s visit, two University of Tampa art classes stopped by the Studio to listen, watch, and print as they took part in informal presentations and demos. Chris explained the history of printing, showed the basic elements of letterpress printing and typecasting—having the students cast their own names on the Ludlow Typograph and print a class keepsake—as well as guiding them through his portfolio of prints and talking about his traveling “tramp printer” project.


Chris also set aside time to create and print some original letterpress works of his own. During his two-day visit, he designed, set up, and printed a three-color poster and two editions of two-color postcards to fulfill pledges that are part of his Indiegogo online fundraising campaign. Visitors were invited to stop by, talk with him, and see him at work during an Open Studio on Monday afternoon.

Chris officially began his Itinerant Printer tour, which is projected to take him to 48 states, the last week of January in the Miami area, making the Tampa Book Arts Studio only his third stop, following IS Projects (Ft. Lauderdale) and the Jaffe Center for Book Arts at FAU Libraries (Boca Raton). While in the West Central Florida area, Chris also visited the Letterpress and Book Arts Center at Ringling College in Sarasota and The Southern Letterpress in St. Petersburg before moving north to the Florida panhandle and Georgia.

More information about the Itinerant Printer project and a schedule of the tour can be found on the project website,

Thanks to Chris Fritton (The Itinerant Printer) for his visit, and to Ina Kaur,
Jono Vaughn, the UT Art Department, the Dept. of English and Writing, Writers at
the University, and the College of Arts and Letters for sponsoring The Itinerant Printer.

1 comment:

Sharon Stone said...

The blog and data is excellent and informative as well.