PaperCity Magazine

October 2013 - Houston

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THE COMPLETE WORKS WORKHORSE OF PRINTMAKERS BY STEVEN HEMPEL A R T D I R E C T I O N M I C H E L L E AV I Ñ A PHOTOGRAPHY BY JENNY ANTILL Workhorse Printmakers co-owners Joe Ross, Jennifer Blanco, John Earles Main press area Samples of posters printed for various events W orkhorse Printmakers takes a classic, old-fashioned approach to printmaking. Working intimately with their machinery, they coax century-old letterpresses to create impressions on paper in a task that is often more art than science. Gears turn, wheels spin, oil drips, and the operator takes part in the choreography. "There is a sense of magic in working with letterpress," says John Earles, co-founder and pressman at Workhorse. "The cool part of what we do is about the effort and work. We bleed with our machines." Founded in 2009 by partners John Earles and Jennifer Blanco, Workhorse Printmakers is one of the few letterpress print shops in Houston. The couple returned home after working in New York City for a number of years, with a desire to combine their talents as artists and create projects on their own terms. The result of their collaboration was Workhorse Printmakers and in-house graphic design shop Spindletop Design. In an intimate space tucked away in the Workhorse maintains a collection of old-fashioned wood type, set here to print Brazos Bookstore's"Banned Books Week" poster. Studio entryway, home to the Vandercook No. 2 press Printed invitation samples poster THE HOUSE related to children [and expecting our daughter], we were passionate about doing something that would improve children's lives. Also having seen plenty of great brands doing great things for children abroad, we really wanted to start something to help kids here in the U.S. THAT FLOPS BUILT GIVING BACK. After a bit of research, looking for the way we could best help children in need, we were shocked to learn cancer is the most fatal disease among U.S. children — more fatal than almost all other childhood diseases combined, with 16,000 new cases diagnosed each year. From there, it just clicked: We would help kids with pediatric cancer. Hari Mari donates $3 for every pair of flip-flops sold towards pediatric cancer research and support networks for children stricken with the disease. BY STEVEN HEMPEL Weekly partner meetings steer the direction of new product design (Jeremy, Lila & John). Sneak peek of the campaign for Hari-Mari's leather Lakes line ART DIRECTION MICHELLE AVIÑA PHOTOGRAPHY BY SHAYNA FONTANA Lists of new product ideas on office walls IN THE BEGINNING. The roots of Hari Mari really trace back to Indonesia. My wife, Lila, and I lived in Jakarta from 2006 to 2009, where I had cofounded an advertising and film production firm and was working on a documentary about the effects of hunger and malnutrition on children in Southeast Asia. Lila was volunteering with an organization that assisted and fund-raised for orphanages in Indonesia. Deciding we wanted to move back and start a family in the States, we sold our portion of the firm and wondered, 'What's next?' Having both worked on projects PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER. Desks overcome with swag and inspirational items for new flops Testing new color possibilities for future flip-flops Phone fix: Jeremy Stewart is a self-described Instagram addict. WHY FLIP-FLOPS? We are major flip-flop enthusiasts, wearing them seemingly year-round, even during our Texas winters. When we returned to the States after four years in Indonesia and set out to buy new flops, we noticed the styles and colors available in stores were the exact same as those available four years earlier. Nothing had changed. Same iterations of black and brown. Same uncomfortable break-in periods. So we set out to change that with the goal of making a more colorful and more comfortable flip-flop, at the premium level — essentially, the flip-flop for flip-flop enthusiasts. H ari Mari was born out of a desire to create an amazing pair of flip-flops. The brand, brainchild of Dallas-bred husband-and-wife team Jeremy and Lila Stewart, is a marriage of passions: They wanted to create the perfect flip-flop while helping children in need. Hari Mari, just over a year old, incorporates a host of features for both the eye and the sole: biodegradable, sustainable, eminently wearable and aesthetically pleasing. We flip for Jeremy Stewart's flops. Rice Military neighborhood, they use turn-of-thecentury machinery (their oldest press was made in the 1890s) often sourced from old print shops, to create invitations, announcements and posters in small runs of 250 to 1,000. Letterpress, which is often confused with engraving, is a form of relief printing that was the dominant form of creating paper collateral until the early 1960s, when it was replaced commercially by offset printing, which is faster and easier to setup and can reproduce photography more effectively. Unlike digitally created work, letterpress creates a true, natural impression in the paper upon which it is printed. The impression comes from the process itself, which involves passing a printing plate through a press with a tremendous amount of force. The final product is almost impossible to produce using modern printing techniques and makes each work feel distinctly handmade. While the firm has only been on the Houston stage for a brief time, Workhorse has quickly imbedded itself within the design community, fostering relationships with Brazos Bookstore, the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, the Museum of Printing History and AIGA Houston, among others. Workhorse's collaboration with CAMH for Museum Experience Day took place in conjunction with the current exhibition "Graphic Design: Now in Production" (through September 29); they set up two letterpress machines onsite for the production of a poster and postcards given to museum attendees. They have also produced work for Cite, the quarterly architectural publication of the Rice Design Alliance, and collaborated with Brazos Bookstore to print a series of four broadsides for the "Banned Books" exhibition, which championed the importance of literary freedom. As Workhorse continues to grow, the challenge is to stay committed to the details that make their work so appealing while refining a process that requires a great deal of time and effort but yields rewards for both the client and the maker. Though the process can be tiring and the hours long, the unique works and the sense of community they have fostered makes it all well worth the effort. Workhorse Printmakers can be found online at Hari Mari combined our two passions: creating a great flip-flop and supporting kids battling cancer. "Hari" is a nod to the roots of the brand, meaning "sun" in Indonesian, while "Mari" is the word for "sea" in Latin. We launched Hari Mari in March of 2012 and asked John Veatch to join the company to help grow and refine Hari Mari's marketing and branding. Lila and I have both known John since we were kids, so it was a really natural and comfortable fit for the three of us as business partners. WHAT MAKES HARI MARI DIFFERENT? Outside of being a Texas-based flip-flop brand, which is an anomaly to begin with, many things set our flops apart from the crowd. Chief among them are our unique color combinations, our commitment to using higher-quality recyclable materials and our memoryfoam toe post. Up next, we are launching a full-grain leather line called Lakes and hope to expand our current retail footprint of close to 150 stores across 30 states — and, in doing so, grow our "Flops Fighting Cancer" commitment as well.

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