Studio on Fire, a craft letterpress printer that recently opened at 825 Carleton St. in South St. Anthony, will host a family-friendly grand opening on Friday, July 29, from 1 to 7 p.m.
“A Print Fair” is part of the Creative Enterprise Zone’s We Make It Here happy hour series. Attendees will see the craft print company’s artisan, beautiful, tactile work, which encompasses business cards, packaging and invitations. The day’s events include projects on presses for print giveaways, a steamroller with large moveable type printing a poster on the sidewalk outside, and food and beverages from local vendors.
Just over a decade ago, graphic designer Ben Levitz set up his first antique letterpress machine in his basement and began transforming the artisan print business in the Twin Cities. His new venture grew into Studio on Fire, which specializes in the art of “pressure-based printing,” which includes letterpress, foil stamping and engraving. Levitz’s client roster includes agencies and design firms around the world. Levitz moved his operation and its 1950-60s-era presses to a warehouse basement in northeast Minneapolis. When the building was sold, the business moved into a former semi-tractor service garage, later used for an adult-arts program, on Carleton Street.
While moving Studio on Fire’s 15 employees and dozens of heavyduty machines Levitz came up with the idea of adding a retail component. He talked with longtime friend and client Dan Anderson at Dogwood Coffee, who lives in St. Anthony Park. He had a number of coffee shops in the Twin Cities but none in his own neighborhood. Anderson and Levitz looked over the building and decided to create a Dogwood outpost with windows looking into Studio on Fire’s production facility. Now clients, visitors, neighbors and coffee shop aficionados can grab an espresso and watch the pressure-printing machines and their operators at work.
“It’s sort of like a tap room,” Levitz said. “People literally get a window into the physicality of what we do.” While most of the printing industry has gone to bigger, faster and cheaper, Levitz said, “we make things people want to touch, feel, enjoy, look at and hang on to for awhile.”
Creative Enterprise Zone: We Make It Here is a project designed to celebrate and promote economic development in the Creative Enterprise Zone (CEZ), St. Paul’s center of creativity and enterprise, located mid-city between St. Paul and Minneapolis. The goals of We Make It Here are to build connections between creative enterprises and increase their visibility in ways that support businesses. Learn more at creativeenterprisezone.org.