Sunday, July 7, 2013

European Tour (Part 2)

Before I can tell you the story of my time in France I have to include one short visit to Stockholm, Sweden. Gota wanted to introduce me to a few more printers that were making wonderful things. One was Thomas Hallon Hallbert, who currently resides in the South of France but was going to be in Stockholm. We got to chat a bit about what he was working on and we also swapped work.

The other was Richard Arlin, who has been printing books, amazing melt your face off books, for decades. We got to his printshop and I'll be damned if printers mostly all have the same freakin basic thing going on in their shops. It is set up for the printer, there are things everywhere and though it seems like complete chaos, there is an overwhelming sense of order going on. It is unsetteling and validating at the same freakin time. Anyways, in a nutshell, this very sweet, smart, and interesting fellow starts his projects with linen sheets and makes paper for his books. He then researches and develops his typeface and proceeds to make, yeah I said make the type. As in melt some shit down and pour it into a matrix. Man, I thought I was old school.



We chatted and looked and examined and shared and finally went to a pub and drank many wonderful swedish beers. 
Amazing people. Thank you for putting into perspective the fact that I could probably put more into what I do, like a lot more. 

Head to the Arlanda Airport to catch a flight to Paris, France. 

So, here I am, in far distant lands, leaving one wonderful destination about to embark on another printers dream. I packed my bag,  my really, really, really, large bag that I borrowed from my mom. I took that really, really, really large bag because I brought a ton of stuff that I wanted to give, sell, leave behind, share, and explain.  I left about half of it in Sweden and I had some left to bring to my new friends in France. 

I got off the flight from Stockholm to Paris and I was standing in this ginormous airport, alone, with the biggest bag known to mankind and not speaking the native tongue. I also really had to go to the bathroom. I started to look around and by god if there was not pictograms left there for me, Jonny Q American, to use to figure things out like, "where the hell is the bathroom, where do I catch the train outta town, can I get WIFI anywhere around here, and where can I charge my iPhone?" These became essential questions for me wherever I was. The point is, I got to the bathroom, charged my phone and sent some texts, and got me and my giant bag on the right train- destination Nimes, France. I was proud of myself. 

I was off to spend a week at the home of Robert Lobet, a printer that lived in Nimes and had a friend in common with me. Sort of like how the story of how I came to print with Gota, was the story of how I came to print with Robert. A year ago, a friend of mine, Philippe Costaglioli, a professor of film at St. Cloud State University, had come to visit me at my printshop one sunny afternoon. Philippe went way back, back to being a close friend of my dad's. In fact the two of them had collaborated on an amazing book right before my father passed away. It was Philippe's poetry with my dads silk screen, letterpress, and book making skills. Anyways, that day he came by, he brought with him a lovely young french woman who spoke wonderful English and thought I was the Cat's Pajama's! She took one look at the work I was doing and she was drooling and giggling! It was awesome. Needless to say we became friends which turned into penpals. Turns out she was interning for this really great, awesome, printer (who Philippe said reminded him SO MUCH of my dad) named Robert. So Robert and I began emailing, as much as we could understand one another, and eventually sending our work to each other. 

When I made the decision to go and print in Sweden I could not possibly pass up the opportunity to go and meet these people too. Then it was set. 

I got off the high speed train in Nimes and realized I did not really know who I was looking for, but then I saw them walking towards me and I knew it was them, Robert and Helene, my friends.

The first thing was they showed me to my accommodations. Just like at Tryckkamaren, I was instantly welcomed into the family space and treated like they had been waiting for me to arrive for a long while. It was a small, perfect little apartment that had everything a person would need to stay here and print or write for as long as it would take. The only thing that took some getting used to was the bathroom. Without giving a ton of detail, there are not really pipes and all the new fan-dangled plumbing that young countries like ours are born with, so I had a sweet little bucket partnered with another bucket of sawdust. Huh. I can do this. I grew up camping in the Boundary Waters fer chrissakes!

As I walked up to the shop, which was off of the house in his garage, I smelled that smell that I smell everytime I walk into my printshop. The same smell, I was home again. How freakin weird. 

I met Cookie, the family dog and started carving linoleum right out of the gate. They wanted to see what could do and I felt like I needed to earn my keep er something. So I got busy. Just like at Tryckkammaren, we were up and working everyday after our coffee. It was how it went, and it was good, so was the coffee. We worked hard and talked about what they were doing and what I was doing and what was the same and what was different. We always stopped for lunch and more coffee, everyone needs coffee.

As we were talking and laughing and getting to know each other, they shared with me that they enjoyed reading my blog and they would laugh until they would cry at the style in which I talk. You know that style, the style that makes me me but also cannot be changed. It is both an endearing quality as well as a repellant to some people. I have come to mostly accept that I am what I am and the folks that cannot stand my style of communication have no business communicating with me anyways.
The point is, they really liked the slang that I employ, and they wanted to hear MORE.

We came up with the idea to produce a book of popular english slang along side the most closely related version in french. It was god damned brilliant and I was guessing I was going to be pretty good at this. We began by writting down a bunch of options, this was always followed by gales and I mean streaming tears of laughter. I don't care who you are this shit is funny.


I carved with fury and I carved with hilarity, Robert printed like a rockstar and together we pulled this book together, like it was something we were born to do. Setting type, carving, printing, laughing and crying and drinking coffee and making wonderful, quality things that would impact our lives forever. 

I think I got as much of a charge out of Robert as he did of me, he would write down the things I would say, he was mystified at how I could shove swear words inside words. He would write them down and walk around saying them and laughing hysterically. Oh, but to be appreciated I tell ya. 

Thank you my friends, (for some reason when I would talk to these french people I would use some sort of mexican/australian accent), thank you for being proud printers that want to share and learn. Thank you for your patience with me when you did not understand me, thank you for the gifts, the time, the laughter, the acceptance and generosity. 

Thank you, from the bottom of my inky heart. 

1 comment:

  1. I would love to read that book! And I'm absofuckinglutely enjoying your blog!