Millennial Press is a student run letterpress shop on campus. Since its conception in 2016, Millennial Press has connected students, staff and alumni to the greater Manchester area through collaborative, community oriented projects.
In the Fall of 2015, Erin Sweeney, Printmaking Faculty, took a group of book arts students to a print shop in Gardner, MA, called Chair City Community Art Center. There, owner Tracie Pouliot, is creating hand-printed books celebrating the stories of local people who worked in the furniture factories that used to thrive in Gardner.
Tracie let the students have a turn at her flat-bed cylinder press. The students loved printing on the press and talked of how wonderful it would be to have one in our letterpress shop at NHIA.
Fast-forward to the spring semester when several of those students were in Erin’s “Intro to Letterpress” class. Dreams of how we could get a flat-bed cylinder press permeated every discussion, but turned into something more than wishful thinking when Sam Kelly (Fine Arts, 2016) took the initiative to apply for a grant to our Student Leadership Committee (SLC) to see if they would give us the money.
Though the grant application was turned down, the committee did make the class an intriguing offer. “If you raise half, we will match you.”
Soon afterward, Erin made a proposal to the class. “Do you guys want to just drop the syllabus and turn this course into a job shop to raise funds for the press?” The answer was an immediate and resounding yes!
Nine students threw themselves into the project, getting help from two design students who had already taken the class, as well as a recent graduate. They designed their own brand, Millennial Press, complete with a logo created by Danny Mauri (Design, 2016) and an Instagram page managed by Christin Graham (Photography, 2017). They had weekly meetings and watched their numbers rise.
The students made cards, bags, patches, and organized a 2017 calendar with a page done by each student. Every detail was considered and completed. They met with the finance department’s amazing Nancy Jordan, who helped them start a YouCaring donation page. Lucas Silva (Design, 2016) built the donation page and monitored it throughout the semester.
Additionally, Josh Stewart (Illustration, 2016) donated the proceeds from the sale of a limited edition print which he designed, printed, packaged, and shipped with the assistance of Millennial Press.
At the end of April, they had “Press Print Party” event in the print shop at French Hall. Every press was being operated by a student, with giveaways for all attendees. There was a ‘zine produced so that visitors could receive stickers at each print station, and if they completed at least three, they could enter into a raffle. Prizes included prints donated to the project by Amos Paul Kennedy, Bobby Rosenstock, and James Chase, and another very popular item: a coveted parking spot here at NHIA! Thanks to Julia Starr (Fine Arts and Illustration, 2018), the Puritan Restaurant donated ice cream, and a good time was had by all.
In just 15 weeks, the students had raised over $10,000, including the matching funds from the SLC. That was enough money to pay for a Vandercook 320G flat-bed cylinder press to be picked up by professional riggers and delivered to us at NHIA. Since it arrived in June, they’ve begun printing, and Millennial Press will continue to operate as a job shop with the hope of raising money for other ventures in the future.