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Meet Jennifer Graves

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jennifer Graves.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Jennifer. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
In 2009, we moved from Las Vegas to Los Angeles. The move opened up a new world for me artistically. It’s here that I discovered my love for Letterpress printing and bookmaking. I mean I had always ooh’d and awed over letterpress cards and stationery, but I had no idea how much I would love the process of letterpress printing. Over a period of time and throwing myself into taking classes and spending countless hours honing my skills during open lab at Otis College of Art and Design, I secured a part-time job working in the Laboratory Press studio. Along the way, I began assisting Rebecca Chamlee in her Book Structures class and discovered I love bookmaking as well. About five years ago, I taught my first Letterpress workshop at BookArtsLA. Currently I teach the summer sessions of Introduction to Letterpress at Otis College of Art and Design Extension. I’m currently in the process of creating an online workshop for bookmaking, launching late fall.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Like starting any new journey, the road can be rocky, but that’s all part of growing. The COVID pandemic hit, then I was laid off from my other part-time job as a librarian, which has forced me to redirect my steps, shift my mindset, and take a leap of faith. I’ve learned a lot and I continue to learn and grow. Since we’re still dealing with COVID and will be for an undetermined amount of time, I’m now having to start online workshops instead of starting in person workshops under my own name. This is a huge shift and I’ll miss interacting, building community face to face, and just being there to give participants hands-on support. However, working on creating the online workshop is turning out to be much more exciting than I initially thought and provides opportunity to teach, share, and build community with people all over the world.

We’d love to hear more about your work and what you are currently focused on. What else should we know?
I’m known for printing posters and broadsides with bold wood type that convey a message, encouragement, thought, realization, protests, etc. My printing is intentional and uncomplicated, life is complicated enough so I want what I create to be clear.

Lately, I’m making books like crazy! For the last couple of months, I’ve been posting a new book that I make each week on my social media platform. Some of the books are sculptural, some have content, a message and others are designed more for writing. It’s also a sneak peek into some of the things I’ll be teaching in my online course. The response on Instagram has been positive. I love the community I’m building!

What is “success” or “successful” for you?
For me, success is putting myself out there, even though it may be scary. It’s putting forth my best effort, doing the work, making a living, being true to myself and others. It’s taking the time to listen and grow within my community and business, persevering when things are hard, being flexible as needed.

Image Credit:
Kyungwon Ahn

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