Hand Prints

Hand Prints

Hand Prints

August/September 2010 issue of American Craft magazine
Mediums Mixed Media

Gig poster for The Apples in Stereo, 2010.

"The poster was fun,vibrant and visually interesting. You could feel the texture of the ink resting on the surface of the paper with your fingertips. We were hooked!"--Sara Turner

Brian and Sara Turner, the husband and wife who operate the Cricket Press in Lexington, KY, have always been artists. Yet neither one of them was ever formally trained in screen printing, the medium that would eventually become their lifework-the hand-printing of music gig posters, art prints, invitations and practically any type of communication or promotional item a client might desire.

The couple met in a photography class they were taking at the University of Kentucky. ("It was actually during the very last week of the semester," says Brian. "The entire class would get together to organize the photo lab's dark- room facilities and that's when we first spoke to each other-after spending an entire semester in that same class!") Both studied studio art with a focus on photography, but neither settled down to a specific career immediately. "After college we spent several years floundering around in the local art scene, experimenting with different mediums and trying to find the ones that we wanted to focus on," says Brian. "We would individually exhibit our work in small, local galleries, but it would be everything from painting to photography to mixed-media pieces."

The two eventually realized that while they wanted to continue to experiment with art, they also needed a regular paycheck. So each began to take on various graphic design projects. As they pursued their careers, they began to take notice of the handmade music-gig posters for some of their favorite bands, especially those made by Jay Ryan, a Chicago-based poster artist working under the studio name The Bird Machine. "For our one-year wedding anniversary-which is traditionally paper-Brian bought me our first gig poster," says Sara. "It was one of Jay's posters for the band Shellac, which happened to be one of our favorite bands at the time. The poster was fun, vibrant and visually interesting. You could feel the texture of the ink resting on the surface of the paper with your fingertips. We were hooked!"

Inspired by how these posters managed to communicate the essence of each band's music, Brian and Sara began experimenting with screen printing, a process that begins with drawing, scanning and coloring, and is finished by hand-printing the work using a table (to clamp the screen onto), a squeegee and ink. In 2003 they began to take on projects part-time, and Cricket Press-named on a whim for the crickets in their damp basement studio-was born.

The handmade aspect is extremely important to the couple, who say that is what makes Cricket Press so special. "Everything from the way we design to the way we communicate with our clients is more personal," Sara says. "Every poster, every card or invitation that we create is touched by our hands."

Within two years Cricket Press established a strong clientele, and in 2005 Brian decided to devote himself to running the press full-time. Over the last year Sara has also begun working for the press full-time while main- taining a part-time day job. "We're committed to seeing the business grow and doing it right," says Sara. "It doesn't matter whether or not you have that day job to support your art habits. If you're addicted to making art then you're going to be working all hours of the day and night anyway."

The couple's projects now range from posters to art prints to invitations and beyond. Although they are joint owners, they don't collaborate on most projects-each focuses on his or her individual interests and artistic style. For a gig poster, inspiration may come from the lyrics of a song, the feel or theme of the album or the band's overall persona. The Turners' clients must be willing to put complete trust in them. "Most clients come to us because they like our aesthetic," says Sara. "It is our responsibility, however, to be up-front with any client we might not be the right fit for. Fortunately, with good communication and honesty, we've been gifted with a wide range of great clients looking for exactly what we have to offer."