Elana Schwartzman brings a love of place, history, ephemera, and public engagement to her work as a letterpress printer. Elana started printing at the Minnesota Center for Book Arts, but has continued as a mostly self-taught artist. She is constantly inspired by contemporary printers as well as the more work-a-day, uncredited works of job printers past. Elana prints with metal and wood type, but also enjoys experiments with pressure prints and alternative textures to create organic designs. Before discovering she was meant to print, Elana worked as a grassroots organizer, a typeface marketer, and among the collections of the Minnesota Historical Society. She lives and prints in beautiful Minneapolis, MN under the name Fontlove Studio, which she founded in 2010. Elana is also the founder and Director of Proof Public, a community-access letterpress organization that focuses on amplifying marginalized voices.
Elana’s letterpress work has recently been featured in Type, Paper, Scissors: A Broadside Exhibit at the Idaho State University, New Impressions at the Hamilton Wood Type Museum, and Amplify and Multiply: Recent Printed Activist Ephemera at the Coburn Gallery at Colorado College.
What draws me to letterpress printing, besides the magical feeling of pressing letters on paper, is that the creative process is inextricably linked to the materials. I print with what I have available in my collection of metal and wood type, borders, and ornaments, rather than digitally-created relief surfaces. This is not just because of fealty to tradition, but because I find that I am most inspired by the constraints. In addition to my type collection, I enjoy exploring with creating texture for backgrounds or emphasis using pressure printing, printing the feet of wood type, or printing broken type. I most often draw inspiration from the original graphic designers - job printers creating prosaic ads, pamphlets, tickets, billheads, etc -- rather than named and celebrated graphic designers. Each design is typeset by hand and goes through countless proofs and revisions as the best marriage of materials and content becomes clear.