Printing in Yellow

The first episode of the documentary Abstract: The Art of Design (see also here) profiles Christoph Niemann.

Toward the end of the episode, Niemann discusses the difference between being a creator and being an editor of his creations:

I need to be in control and I need to have a very clear sense of where I’m going and why something’s working and not working. On the other hand, I’ve also realized that being more free-spirited is necessary. I’ve found that I need to develop these two personas separately. Be a much more ruthless editor, and be a much more careless artist. This I find physically exhausting, but there’s good stuff happening there.

As a printer, the time I’ve found myself the most free-spirited was the summer I spent printing in Berlin. Every Tuesday I showed up at the print shop with nothing but a day reserved to print, and I dove right in, with no distractions and the only limit that I had to be done by the end of the day. The work I did that summer is the work I’m most proud of, and it’s been a challenge to recapture that spirit in the years since.

This is not to say that my printing life here in Charlottetown is a strict (ruthless) regime: it’s not a business, it’s an avocation. But because it’s co-located with my business, it tends to inherit the underlying psychology of the business, and so even setting aside time for printing seems reckless and indulgent. I could be using that time to fix code!

But Niemann’s elegy was enough, at least for today, to get me over this.

And so I spent a part of the day printing a grid of yellow squares.

There’s more method to my madness than the yellow squares convey–this will become evident in later posts–but this is an idea I dreamed up on the spur of the moment, an idea that I couldn’t have planned for it required some typographical improvisation that can only happen at the bench.

It was a lovely feeling.

Photo of metal squares locked in the chase

Photo of a tube of Yellow ink

Photo of a squirt of yellow ink

Photo of ink disc with yellow ink

Photo of inked metal squares on the press

Photo of a single index card printed in yellow with squares

Photo of many yellow-printed index cards