When you enter The Center for Book Arts time slows down. Hours are spent hunched over microscopic typeface, inking plates, and turning massive rollers with the utmost precision and strength. In the epicenter of New York City, visual artists, writers, and beginners of all ages and skill levels are taking the time do something physical and produce something tactile and truly their own. One of the center's core classes, Letterpress I, introduces students to the basics of the yesteryear craft and then empowers, and challenges, them to apply their skills to a project of their own design. "It's pretty slow and arduous" says Letterpress instructor and printer maker Richard O'Russa, "but the results are amazing!"
The Center for Book Arts has been enabling this kind of creativity and book arts themselves to remain a present and ever evolving art form since 1974. Through classes, exhibitions, literary presentations, and public programming, the center aims to preserve traditional practices while inviting new interpretation and usage for modern pursuits.
Though essentially fringe in nature, The Center for Book Arts and what it represents isn't going anywhere any time soon. Bookbinding, printing, and a variety of works on paper still have a place in the hustle and bustle of modern day. "People are going back for the satisfaction of reconnecting to something that might take more time but is personal," O'Russa shares, because "you can’t reproduce this on a computer or buy it in a store."