Today’s college kids spent their formative years with any information they could possibly want just a few smartphone taps away. They text rather than talk, Google instead of going to the library. Their fingers do the walking, to use an old slogan for an item they’ve probably never used: the Yellow Pages.
And yet, instead of turning to Instagram or Snapchat to send a message in a matter of seconds, some prefer to painstakingly toil over ancient technology to get their message across. The University of Indianapolis is one of several Indiana colleges that have unveiled old-fashioned printing studios in the last two years. At its Hullabaloo Press, students piece together posters mixing type and engraved illustrations on wooden blocks. Once a design is finished—so, anywhere from 30 minutes to several hours—it’s locked into one of Hullabaloo’s printing presses, the newest of which is from 1960. Then it’s time to measure out ink, do a test run on a single sheet, maybe calibrate the machine. Finally, the students are ready to run out dozens of posters at a time, for their personal use and to promote campus events. Last year, they did a series of old-school prints to mark the 200th anniversary of Frankenstein’s publication.
Grad student Kalia Daily likes the physical rhythm of working directly with the presses. Each one here has a nickname, like “Diana Prints,” a pun on Wonder Woman’s alter ego; “Black Betty,” a 2,500-pounder; and two smaller machines affectionately known as “Presscilla” and “Elvis Pressley.” The oldest dates to the early 1900s.
Auna Winters, a grad student with a dual concentration in printmaking and ceramics, doesn’t mind slowing down for her craft. “That’s what drew me to printmaking,” she says. “I like that there are different steps to get to the final product.”