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Pay It Forward>>Spudnik Press


Pay It Forward is a collaborative, experimental fundraiser devised by Autotelic {Studios} and Sixty Inches From Center. We are experimenting with the idea of paying it forward to other arts organizations who work to support artists and a thriving arts community in Chicago. Our Pay It Forward Series will highlight one of the eight projects that we have chosen to be part of our fundraiser each week, leading up to our Pay It Forward Fundraising Party + Housewarming on November 23rd, 7 PM at (our new fundraiser location!) FLATS Studio at 1050 W Wilson Ave.

This week we talked with Spudnik Press, a print shop with a mission of accessibility and community. The workshop is open to professional printers and aspiring artists alike, and offers their facilities to those who want simply to get the word about their works in other mediums. And we know a thing or two about that ourselves. Says Sixty’s own Tempestt Hazel about the print shop, “When Sixty first started in 2010, Zachary Johnson and I (screen printing amateurs) went to Spudnik to make handmade patches to give away during our Going Mobile launch event. Spudnik founder Angee Lennard and the other artists in the space were so warm, inviting and patient with us during the process–I’ll never forget it! ”

Don’t miss out on Spudnik’s new exhibition of Veronica Siehl’s work opening this weekend. The reception for  The Holes is How We Got Through, will take place on Saturday, November 2nd at 1821 W. Hubbard, Suite 303 from 6 to 9.

Sixty Inches From Center: How did you start?

Angee Lennard: Spudnik Press started as a work/live studio. I wouldn’t say experimental, but I certainly didn’t know what the press would evolve to be. I learned through experimentation and lots of research. The press was open just one night a week for printers to come work. After about a year, the press moved to a dedicated studio in the Hubbard Street Lofts. Another year later, we became a non-profit organization. And after another two years, we hired our first part time staff!

Hubbard Street Lofts, where Spudnik Press is located.

SIFC: What’s your mission?

AL: To provide facilities and services available to artists who need a place to create or exhibit their original artwork, especially those who cannot obtain access to traditional printmaking facilities and exhibition spaces because of financial or other limitations.

To provide education in printmaking practices though uniting professional artists with a diverse community of emerging artists, established artists, youth, and adults.

SIFC: What makes your project unique?

AL: Our studio is unique in our approach to inclusiveness. Our studio welcomes new people through both the demeanor of staff and our community of artists, but we also develop programming around a philosophy of approachability. We create no hierarchy between the young students that visit Spudnik through a school field trip, and the most reputable artists that make work within our studio. I find that Spudnik is also unique in the breadth of activities that we support. Everything grows out of a dedication to printmaking. However, this dedication has led us to have a ton of resources from private studios to professional development to a small library of small press books from around the country.

SIFC: What is the one thing that you want people to know about your organization?

AL: This is actually the hardest question in the list! I am shocked I haven’t been asked this before!

I would like to ask people to think about the current state of education. Think about the cost of graduate education. Think about the difficulties that CPS students face. Think about the post-graduation options for BFA artists to continue their craft. Think about the infrastructure of the institutions that are providing continuing education. Spudnik Press is addressing these issues on a community level. We partner with amazing organizations like BBF, Marwen, Citizen Schools, and Arts of Life. We have a paid screen printing apprenticeship. We have a residency program. And our classes are affordable, professional, and inclusive. We aren’t a political organization, but we have passionate feeling about what education should look like and provide.

SIFC: What are your goals, what’s coming up?

AL: Our biggest project that we just began is to create our first five-year strategic plan. What this means is that we are bringing together our staff, board, and members to envision our desired future and translate this vision into goals, objectives, and steps to achieve these goals. Through this we’ll also be looking closer into how we assess our programs and how we learn what our community needs from us. It might sound like dry work, but here we are all incredibly excited.

Programmatically, we are starting to rethink our residency program to be more beneficial for writers and self-publishers. We are working on many organizational improvements around the studio. We are about to launch a new website, designed by Nick Butcher and Nadine Nakanishi of Sonnenzimmer, and developed by Nate Beaty. Lastly, we are working towards having full time staff in 2014. Even the Executive Director (myself!) is only paid for a portion of her hours.

At the door of Spudnik Press

SIFC: How does the concept of paying it forward apply to what you do and your relationship to the Chicago arts community?

AL: At the risk of sounding philosophical, we are all one. Like an organism, if one part of our community isn’t healthy, the whole community is affected. In the 6+ years I have run Spudnik I have seen many “underground” or live/work spaces set roots and do much more than impact the Chicago art scene. I believe recent projects and spaces are actually changing how Chicagoans approach art and community (both makers and consumers), and this is much of why Spudnik is a viable model in Chicago. My fellow art administrators are inspiring, challenging, motivating, and creating curiosity within the community, and Spudnik offers the space and opportunity for people to act on those inspirations, learn, grow, and meet like minded folks through art making.
SIFC: Why did you agree to be part of this fundraiser with Sixty and Autotelic?

AL: I see this fundraiser as a challenge to the Chicago artistic community to step up and truly start working together on a larger scale. There are so many amazing collaborations among local organizations, but these stand alone projects are often the only times we come together. Resources are tight and to the best of my knowledge, all of us are struggling financially. We often spend so much time looking inward, because our individual organizations need constant attention. However, it’s really refreshing to look outward and see how we can gain stability from each other. In the week since Spudnik agreed to participate, we have already been brainstorming how we can restructure our next fundraiser to create more benefit for the projects and organizations that we have our eyes on.

To find out more about Spudnik Press, visit  To donate to the Sixty & Autotelic {Studios} Pay It Forward fundraiser, CLICK HERE.

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