Aaron Cohick, The Printer of the Press at Colorado College, talks about typos, art, books, design, and his occupational hazards.
Can students bring their own designs to be printed, or what is the process of getting things printed through the printing press?
Normally, when someone hires us to do a poster, I assign it to one of my student apprentices and they do the design and the printing. Also, if someone wanted to do their own posters we have a class here and a training adjunct that people can take to learn how to do this stuff.
How can students get in contact with you?
The best way to get in touch is to e-mail me, but I’m always happy to have people stop by just to see the place because I think it’s important to actually see what this place is.
Do you make your own print art?
I do. In addition to running the press at Colorado College, which is primarily an artistic endeavor, I also run my own press where I publish books.
What is the most memorable thing you’ve ever printed?
There are a few books that I’ve done that have been projects through my own press that have taken two or three years to print, so those long, really substantial projects are the ones that stick with me.
Why do they take so long to do?
There’s a process of getting the manuscript, doing the editing, doing the design, often dealing with a lot of other things in my life like moving from state to state. Then some of them are just enormous amounts of printing, which takes a long time to set up, and depending on how many copies you’re making, it could take a long time to print, and then binding.
Have you ever been injured?
I have not, thankfully. These presses are relatively safe. You would have to be doing something really weird to hurt yourself with them. The 100-year-old press is actually super dangerous so we don’t use it that much. Pretty much everyone I know who has been injured during printing has been hurt on one of those.
How did you get involved with printing?
When I was a sophomore in college, I went to art school in Baltimore to study painting, and I had to take a printmaking class. They happened to be offering a class that semester about making ‘zines, and in that class, we learned how to screen print and print letterpress and bind books. As soon as I did my first one, I knew that was what I wanted to do and have pursued it since. It was kind of accidental.
What is your favorite word?
My favorite word is world.
What is the worst typo you’ve ever printed?
When I was learning how to print, we were working on a really big project that took two years to do and a lot of money. We basically used up all the money that press had. After we finished the books, I was reading one of them a month or two later and I found a typo that broke my heart. Just because the project was so large, and to see that at the end, the whole thing was sort of disappointing.
Do you feel like you’re working with a dying medium?
Yes and no. This particular type of printing has been obsolete since the ‘50s or ‘60s, so in a way, it was already done before I was even born. It’s not so much dying as dead. In some ways, mostly because it’s commercially obsolete. As this stuff went out commercially, it started being bought up by artists and people who were interested in doing it for other reasons, so there’s actually been a tremendous renaissance in the past 20 years. It is so flexible and there’s room to do new and interesting things with it that I think of it as a living thing.