Tuesday, March 16, 2010

HOUSE CALLS: Christie and Caleb from Roll & Tumble Press

Time for another House Call, and to kick off this week's visits we are off to Little Rock, Arkansas to visit Christie and Caleb from Roll & Tumble Press. They describe their work as "Hand illustrated, hand carved, hand set, hand fed." You are about to learn how very true this is.

Now, let me start by saying I am obsessed with letterpress, and these guys are at the top of my list of favourites. They manage to create simple, striking prints that tell a story through bold illustration, words, and colour, and always with a vintage feel that you just know I am crazy about!

Winsome Girl Print

So, let's find out more about this lovely pair and the process of letterpress...

Describe the work that you do? "Roll & Tumble Press is a letterpress shop where we primarily print art posters , gig posters for our musical friends and sometimes the occasional card or two around the holiday season."

You Are All I Need Print

What was the career/education path you took to get to this point? "Our parents tell us both that we were born creative and I guess it's true. Christie relentless insomniac, art grad and former painter/mixed media artist turned letterpress printer and Caleb an effortless sleeper,illustrator/art school dropout turned tattoo artist. We have pretty much done all kinds of jobs, waiter/waitress, cricket farmer, visual designer for a major retailer, faux finisher, long haul trucker, shop gurl, barista.....the list goes on."

Wishful Thinking Print

Where do you get your inspirations? "Quirky southern stuff and phrases from the grandparents, constantly changing light and colors, snapshots of life, various and ever changing musical phases, artists of the past, old architecture and signs, typography, nature and the seasons and eavesdropping."

Sinner's Sampler Print

Describe the creative process in designing and constructing a particular piece. "Each poster begins with something as simple as one image or phrase, we talk about color palette, layout, size and typography. Caleb then begins to illustrate, the line drawing then is transferred to linoleum or wood blocks (one block for each color that needs to be printed). These are then hand carved, sometimes by Caleb sometimes by Christie depending on the "style" we're feeling, Caleb (clean and precise), Christie (folksy). This is typically the most labor intensive part of our work, one block can take hours to complete."

"Once all blocks are carved we then go to the type cases and pick out the type, we use almost all antique wood type, but sometimes use vintage lead type also, all painstakingly handset (no plastic plates allowed). We hand mix all our inks, pretty organically, we do have a Pan-tone guide, but we don't measure, use percentages, or do any kind of math when mixing. We want to have fun with the process. O.K...ready to go to press."

"We pretty much use a vintage Vandercook , and hand crank that baby once for each color. So if we print 250 posters and it has 7 colors.....well, yes, that is 1750 cranks. Thank goodness it has to dry between each layer, but it can be physical. Once it dries, we set up fun little "style" shots using some of our quirky collections and list them in our shop.....*poof* it's letterpress y'all."

Phew, that sounds like seriously hard work! I had no idea that the process was so involved, and I love that everything is done by hand, in a classic tradition. But 1750 cranks???!!! Now that is a labour of love!

Take a look at more images of the process of making a print.

Get Lucky Print, the finished article.

Share some of your favourite artisans whose work you admire "We are amazed at all of the super talented artists out there, it is really difficult to choose, but today on our letterpress inspired playlist is Yee-Haw, Hatch Show Print & Starshaped Press"

"Farmers Market" Poster by Yee-Haw

"Be Mine" Postcard by Starshaped Press

Smashing Pumpkins Concert Poster by Hatch Show Print

Where do you sell your work? "We have an Etsy shop, we also have space on Poppytalk Handmade and Paper-n-Stitch, which link back to the Etsy site, we also sell on Felt & Wire, Morningbird Collective, also we have work in The Young Blood Gallery/Boutique in Atlanta."

What/who are the things you love most in your life? "Our list of 'loves'......collecting and consuming music of various genres, Cohen bro films, films in general, books, thrift stores, late night motorcycle rides, estate sales , our gig poster collection, tattoo collectors, salvaging and re-purposing old furniture, Mexican food, caprese salad, a bottle of great wine, a smooth shot of tequila, perfect pic-nic days, porch parties, cranking an old press, getting ink on our clothes......sleeping on high thread count sheets, friends and family."

Cooking 101 Prints

What would you do “in your wildest dreams”, if there were no restrictions (like money, or responsibilities)!? "We really feel SO lucky that we are able to be working artists, so that is really a dream realized......but if we are playing that game, then it would be to take off whenever we feel like it, to go anywhere in the world anytime and to have unlimited 'thrifting' time."

Sweet Dreams Print

What is your greatest professional achievement? "To be able to leave corporate life and to live and work as artists."

What is new with you and your work? "We just bought a new(old) press and will be setting up a new shop, which is SUPER exciting and we have several new designs we are flushing out, which we be thrilled to be able to print once we are settled into the new space."

Do you have a motto for life? "We don't really have one......but now we are thinking that maybe we need one!"

I think you guys are getting along just fine without one! How about "Just Breathe!" you have allot on your plate!

Christie and Caleb, are moving into their "dream home", a restored and modernized English Tudor Revival style house soon. They tell me, "We are more than thrilled at the increase in space, sun-porches with casement windows, green tile roof, huge yard for our travelling dog circus( ie: four rescue pooches) and a matching little building that will house the cutest print shop a person ever did see!" I wish you the best of luck with the move!

They have promised to send me pictures of this cute print shop when it is done, and I will stop back in on this creative pair to show you what they are up to then.


  1. endless love for roll and tumble press! next purchase will be the livin in sin poster. that one rocks my world!

  2. I know. Aren't they fantastic. The You Are All I Need poster has been on my Must Have list for a long time.

  3. i got it for my bf this valentine's day. went to ikea to buy a frame and still it doesn't fit properly. gotta get a bigger one. it's toooooo cute!


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