ps151205 Gamify your press:
Building community for the NPC&I
Is it feasible to start the Northwest Print Center and Incubators with a printing press? Could the Halfwood Press Line be the beating heart of this enterprise? Are manufacturing and customer support the keys to successful, job-creation and sustainability?
Is it feasible?
In my excitement to fulfill an order for a new press—this one a unique, white Galleon Halfwood—is rather like a fifteen-year slow burning fuse lit in the year 2000. It was about that time I lit out on an effort to take on the world. I started with an art gallery in our condo. This game me space to meet the public, plus room to organize and show our art collection.
The next year I moved my space to a unit text to ours—a 600-foot space I converted to a mix of art studio, video production and display area. We sold that in 2003 and I moved to Captiol Hill to participate in an experiment called the Seattle Artists Mall, which lasted six months.
Immediately after leaving the SAM, I rented a 300-square foot space at SMJ Studios. I wanted to get back to my roots in printmaking, so I put pencil to paper and drew my perfect press—a beautiful press half wood and half steel. In a few months—it was now 2004—I had it made. As an afterthought, I asked for a miniature version of the original Halfwood.
The Mini Halfwood let flow a new current in printmaking for me. Although I was to continue my printmaking, I discovered that people were hungrier for printmaking experiences than they were hungry for my art.
My art satisfied me and a few art patrons (as it always has, and continues to satisfy) but then—as now—I learned that a more true artistic interaction with people lay in sharing the experience, not only the art.
This was proof of a theory which I hatched when I was still teaching college: Printmaking is a performance art as much as it is a visual art. As the ancestor of all technologies, the value of printmaking experiences is greater than as an art form. Print spawned numerous arts—photography, cinema, video, computer graphics and interactive games.
This is all fine and good, but can printmaking create jobs? What America needs now is meaningful, sustainable work for imaginative, creative, discovering and inventive people. Productivity is the key to sustainability, and it must not help ending Earth’s human life sustainability as many other products do. Press production, education and business development must bring about another age of reason.
I produce etching presses called the "Halfwood Line," and variations on the theme of the printmaking experiences that open up when there is a press handy. Now I am startingup the Northwest Print Center and Incubators with the Halfwood Press line as its cash cow Can the manufacture, sales and support for the Halfwood Press Line—and the WeeWoodie Rembrandt Press—create jobs for other people as it has done for me?
A feasibility study is the only way to find out. However, there is a condition to meet: It must be a feasibility study that uses new ideas, like Concurrent Engineering, Lean Startups, and Gamification.
About the Author: Bill Ritchie plans that printmaking will be taught, researched, and practiced in a community of practice and blends traditional printmaking and new technologies. His press designs and videos are for printmakers globally while he builds local teams to develop the Northwest Print Center and Incubators.