IS Projects Opens Printmaking Studio in Miami
“Letterpress is a funny thing. It’s like half antique, half collecting, and half being a mechanic because you have to maintain all the presses,” Schindall says.
And that she does.
Since 2014, when she opened her first studio in Fort Lauderdale’s FATVillage, Schindall has collected and preserved over 500 unique typefaces. She also possesses two large etching presses, two screen print presses, and about 13 letterpresses.
“People have been saying for years, ‘Print is dying,’ but what I think is really happening is print is transforming,” she says.
The Delray Beach native is now hoping to aid print’s transformation in Miami.
“If you look at other major cities — Chicago, New York, L.A., Asheville — they have really established printmaking institutions,” Schindall explains. “Miami doesn’t have that. Miami has a couple of artist spaces with print facilities, but it’s not a staff of printmaking professionals where artists can learn, utilize resources, and expand their practices.”
With 60 to 70 percent of her clientele already based in Miami, Schindall recently moved her shop to the city’s Little River neighborhood, offering various amenities, including space for artists, print workshops, and, quite frankly, a chance to preserve history.
The new location includes a space for artists to rent for two- to eight-week intervals. The space can be tailored to suit the artist’s needs, such as developing projects, storing files, and exhibiting their work.
“You’ll have space within the studio, as well as access to the studio,” she says. “You can pen, paint, or collage the walls, or whatever, and you have access to all of the facilities here.”
IS Projects also occasionally offers merit-based, short-term residencies funded by organizations like the Knight Foundation. The IS team also provides assistance at varying prices — from the initial brainstorming and use of the presses to the final space curation.
Another room at IS Project will act as a designated studio space for Schindall’s personal projects, something she lacked at the previous location.
“We’re a production shop. We do a lot of printing for other people, so I couldn’t just leave my own stuff out on the tables or up on the walls,” Schindall explains. “If I wanted to work on my own stuff, I’d pull it out after hours and work on it until I’m too hungry to continue.”
Like many small businesses, IS Projects was hit hard during the pandemic.
“With all of the uncertainty and upheaval, a lot of our clients were moving away because they wanted to be closer to family or move back to their hometown,” she says. “Everything slowed down so much I had to rent out all of our studio spaces; there was no room for my own art.”
While the new location is smaller, Schindall believes it encourages more intentional use of space for new initiatives. She says the previous 5,000-square-foot space required more maintenance, which often overwhelmed her creative drive.
“We had to make sure everything we’re doing is really contributing to that mission of elevating the conversations surrounding printmaking,” Schindall explains. “If you’re going to move 50,000 pounds of equipment, it brings up some questions about what I’m doing as an artist, individual, and an employee of the studio.”
Now reenergized, Schindall plans to bring back IS Project’s annual Small Press Fair, scheduled for November 12 and 13, and Tropic Bound’s first international artists’ book fair on February 16-19, 2023.
Additionally, its sister shop, Nocturnal Press, is back. The boutique print shop and bindery caters to the commercial realm of print, including custom posters, business cards, and wedding invitations.
“We have clients come to us, sometimes with designs in need of work, and we can help them bring those visions to life,” Schindall says. “You can’t just hit print, which is what makes the whole process more special.”
She is particularly fascinated by the hands-on operation, which she believes is incomparable to any digital printing process.
“Letterpress is a tactile medium. You’re literally pressing the letters into the paper,” she adds. “So you have that sensation of sculptural form that you can’t reproduce with any type of digital printing.”
There is an ever-deeper quirk within each unique type style and press machine.
“I actually name all of the presses after the people that we get them from, as a way of preserving this tiny bit of history that I know but don’t actually know,” Schindall says.
She looks back on her oldest piece, Terri, a platinum-style press built in 1896.
“I’m not sure what Terri was up to before the press belonged to Terri Hunter, who is a fine letterpress printer in Annapolis, Maryland,” Schindall says.
Hunter was one of Schindall’s earliest mentors, introducing her to the personal value of printmaking.
“She had this one font she collected for forever, Eve, but if she didn’t like a bride, she wouldn’t use it on their invitation. She would only use it on clients that passed muster, I guess,” she says, chuckling.
Schindall hopes to provide a similar mentorship dynamic with the studio’s revamped workshops, including the Print Development Program and the Artist Book Development Program.
“In the previous space, we tried a lot of workshops, but we noticed a gap between what artists do when they want to learn a new medium versus when they’re a bit more serious about their practice,” Schindall explains. “These new programs would be more like individualized courses.”
Educator and assistant at the studio, Brooke Frank, 29, hopes printmakers will feel confident knowing they’ve made something distinctively intimate, no matter the skill level.
“Something about bookmaking is that you’re building an art object with an audience of one, and one at a time,” Frank says. “It’s an incredible opportunity which is not present in every medium, but I think that’s one that we’re able to facilitate.”
She emphasizes IS Projects’ mission to support artists of all backgrounds and genres.
“One of the things that always brings me back here is that we’re a community constantly building opportunities for people to enter the print medium,” Frank insists. “There’s a way in for everyone.”
Schindall agrees, referencing a quote from the 2019 documentary, The Booksellers, which follows rare book dealers and antique art book collectors in New York City.
“When you think about it, a book is the closest inanimate thing to a human. Like you wouldn’t just throw a book in the trash,” Schindall says. “If you see someone tear a book in half, you feel it.”
IS Projects. 290 NW 73rd St., Miami; isprojectsfl.com. Tuesday through Friday 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.