By happenstance I found myself at a print fair back in June put on by The Firecracker Press. While I was there I realized a few things: Pyro makes the best pizza in St Louis (seriously), exploring areas that appear to be out of your comfort zone is a completely worthwhile endeavor and the print world is a mysterious creature which I want to know more about.
A few weeks later I headed back for a tour of the company's design and print studio. My knowledge of print is extremely limited but I'm pretty mesmerized by it. It's one of those magical things that is all around but often goes unnoticed. I'm really interested in the way fonts are put together and used to form a brand's identity. I always thought those sorts of things were done (and dreamt up) in far away places atop towering skyscrapers set within big city skylines.
The Firecracker Press is based on the outskirts of downtown St Louis in a completely inconspicuous neighborhood. Walking by you would never guess that within its discreet walls sits a collection of antique printers used to bring together modern design with techniques long forgotten.
Eric Woods founded The Firecracker Press back in 2002 to bring together his love for graphic design and traditional forms of craftsmanship. The enterprise truly does exactly what he set out to accomplish. At a time when cheap design is available in abundance it's refreshing to see an organization creating in a way that is more time consuming, thoughtful and labour intensive. The invention of print was revolutionary but nowadays printers are often reserved to offices and university libraries. With so much moving online it's easy to overlook the importance and significance of printers. To see antique ones being brought back to life and serving their original purpose through restoration is inspiring.
The Firecracker Press create completely bespoke materials using old printing techniques that have been cast aside by most others in their field. Equipment that would normally be viewed as out-of-date is restored and brought back to life. The studio is like a working museum that fuses functionality and commerce with history.
The company is big on humor. Many of their pieces touch on the everyday idiosyncrasies of life. Dirty diapers. Dutch ovens. Dancing naked in the summer with the fan on. These are all topics referenced in their most recent collection of greeting cards. They are simple yet sweet and capture the imagination of any onlooker that is open to having a cheeky laugh.
They also do a great selection of items that focus on St Louis.
If you're passing through the city, or even if you're a local resident, visit one of their two locations on Cherokee or North 14th Street. There are tons of quirky cards and notebooks to be purchased and prints to make a statement on your wall.
All the items serve as a great reminder of the diversity and talent that can be found in the most unexpected places of our city.
Massive thank you to Missy at The Firecracker Press for inviting me down.