During my senior year at N.C. State’s School of Design I attended a visiting designer’s slide lecture. Asked his opinion of a book he had designed, he admitted he hadn’t read it as he doesn’t have time to read the books he designs, and without so much as awkward pause, it was on to the next slide. Mustering up the vim and vigor of an idealistic 22-year-old, I vowed I would not become like this. It may very well be the way of the world, but it was not going to become my world.
After graduating in 1994, I headed for the hills—specifically, Mitchell County—and the Penland School of Crafts where I participated in the Core Student work/study fellowship program. Learning from a revolving group of visiting craftspersons (and fellow students from all walks of life) in a workshop-centered environment, I concentrated in letterpress printing, bookbinding, and papermaking. I gained inspiration from potters and metalworkers who were making functional everyday items and turning the use of utilitarian objects into elevated acts of aesthetic enjoyment. I saw by integrating design with making, that I could work as a graphic designer in an appealing way; a way that would be a refreshing antidote to what I saw as a culture often overly focused on slickness and loudness, and neglecting intimacy and quiet beauty in communicating ideas and information.
In 1996 (along with Ray Duffey who has since gone on to pursue a career in woodworking/sculpture) I established Horse & Buggy Press at “Antfarm”— a still active self-governing artist/artisan cooperative established by a group of fellow School of Design graduates. A former washboard factory in Boylan Heights, this was H&B’s home for seven years. One of my last activities at Antfarm was organizing a 33-person, 400-piece exhibition at the Gregg Museum for Antfarm’s tenth anniversary. This included co-writing and designing the exhibition catalogue (which featured ten different letterpress-printed cover designs within the edition of 1,000).
In 2003 H&B trotted over the county line into Durham, and in 2005 I co-founded the Bull City Arts Collaborative with filmmaker Kenny Dalsheimer (The Groove Productions). Housed at 401 Foster Street for nearly a dozen years, we enjoyed being a small part of the revitalization of Durham’s downtown and an active participant in the Central Park community.
In 2015, the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscripts Library at Duke University began to collect the books, broadsides, and special projects of H&B and will be continuing to purchase and archive the works of the press. Many special collection libraries hold H&B books, however the Duke special collections library is the only one to hold a a copy of all the major book and broadside projects.
In 2016, I celebrated the 20 year anniversary of H&B with retrospectives at Cassilhaus and the Contemporary Art Museum in Raleigh. Exhibitions included author readings and talks with artists whose works I had turned into book editions over the years. Also, in 2016 I was honored to be one of the Core Fellows profiled in the book Inspired: Life in Penland's Resident Artist and Core Fellowship Programs. The book is on display in the gallery here if you are interested to learn more about Penland.
Since February of 2017 I've been working from 1116 Broad Street, at the edge of the residential neighborhood I’ve lived in since 2003. The studio is in an old grocery store building shared by Watts Grocery Restaurant and Oval Park Grille, and just up the block from The Green Room Pool Hall, Craven Allen Gallery and House of Frames, Joe Van Gogh coffeehouse, and several other independent neighborhood-based businesses. I curate a 500 square foot gallery Horse & Buggy Press And Friends that features work by several dozen established artists and craftpersons. We host an open studios event event on the Second Thursday of each month from 5-8pm, often with guest musicians, and always with adult beverages on hand.
In the studio I work as designer/art director/project manager/typesetter/ production coordinator on all things ink on paper, occasionally incorporating hand-printing on the letterpress when appropriate and within budget parameters. Please visit the portfolio section to get a sense of the range of our work, and just give a holler if you’d like to sit down to talk about a potential project.