Ashley Fuchs [AF] participated in Typographic Printing Program in summer 2022. Ashley is an Assistant Professor of Graphic Design at Montana State University. She studied Architecture and Graphic Design and was first introduced to letterpress in graduate school. Since then she has continued to develop the studio at MSU and has formed her own studio Hacienda Paradiso Press. I’ve talked to Ashley to ask her about her experiences and takeaways from her two weeks in Switzerland.
How did you get to know about TPP?
[AF] «I got to know Dafi through his talks during COVID, specifically the Hamilton Hangs and the blog he runs. From these talks and following him on social media, I became aware of the TPP and its offering both in California and Switzerland. I can always go to California, but not Switzerland so it was an easy choice for which location to choose from. It did not disappoint!»
Did you apply immediately, or did you have any hesitations at the beginning?
[AF] «I applied rather quickly after learning about it. No hesitations, I just hoped that there were enough spots open in the program.»
What are your most surprising takeaways from this traditional analog process?
[AF] «I had experience with letterpress before so there weren’t so many surprises in the analog process, however, the key difference between learning in this program and elsewhere is the extreme precision and attention to detail when printing. The program brought to light hidden invisibles about ink mixing, dryers, type height, packing, and details and information about printing that isn’t easily accessible. It was so refreshing to have transparency in printing and quality expectations in a judgment-free zone.»
How did you implement your digital experience in analog processes?
[AF] «What I have implemented from my digital work, specifically digital work that gets translated to analog is that almost anything created digitally can be used as a blueprint for physical reproduction. The ability to use digital processes first helps elevate analog work because planning and organizing digitally helps you be more accurate with type size and spacing alignment in printed work. Digital helps establish a highly refined and accurate sketch of what can be made physically and that is an incredible takeaway to not only know but have experienced first hand in this program.»
And what about the opposite: How did the knowledge acquired at TPP influence your digital practice?
[AF] «My experience at TPP has also influenced my digital design practice and my teaching curriculum at my university. Instead of working solely digitally or physically, finding a strong interplay between the two in my work has been a main take away from TPP. Recently, exploring how physical type manipulations can inform digital design layouts and content has been at the forefront of my design decisions and has been included in an updated project I’ve developed for my students at Montana State University. The ability to think about how objects and typography forms exist physically, how they can be manipulated, interpreted, and used digitally is a huge conceptual and learning outcome from TPP. Without my involvement in the program I wouldn’t have been able to explore a symbiotic relationship between digital and physical design—furthermore making sure that physical and digital design decisions relate back to conceptual developments of design content. A huge learning experience for me was not only what I can do digitally and physically, but how what I’m making relates back to an informed conceptual driver aligned with rationales for form rather than decisions based on style or preference of the designer.»
After finishing it, how would you describe TPP in your own words?
[AF] «Inspiring, energetic, and intensive in the best way possible. As a professional, it is almost impossible to donate a large amount of time to developing my skills because of other work obligations. The fact that this program was two weeks and was filled every day with processes, explorations, and ideation helped create an intensive study that propelled my conceptualization and printing techniques beyond any other learning experience I have had in the past.
Unforgettable is another good description—every time I print or conceptualize a piece now there isn’t a moment when I don’t think about the concepts and processes I learned in the program.»