Creative Genius: Signal-Return

Get to know more about the team that makes this thriving letterpress operation run.

Letterpress is an art form that has always intrigued me immensely. Signing up for a class had always been on my DIY to-do list, but it was one of those things I just never got around to because, to be honest, I was a bit scared. I’m proud to say that I’m no longer intimidated by letterpress thanks to the team at Detroit’s Signal-Return.

DIY Creative Signal Return

DIY Creative Signal Return

For those readers who aren't familiar with the organization, describe what Signal-Return is and does and who the team members are.
In 2011 an empty storefront on Division Street in Detroit's Eastern Market district was transformed when Signal-Return letterpress studio opened, reintroducing the authentic craft of handset printmaking to Detroit and serving as an inspiration for the artistic community. Almost five years later letterpress printing is flourishing at Signal-Return as we build a center for arts education and a community of artists and arts enthusiasts. Our Detroit Eastern Market Studio invites everyone to become immersed in a highly accessible technique that celebrates creative expression and craftsmanship.

DIY Creative Signal Return

DIY Creative Signal Return

Our core team:
Lynne Avadenka established her own press after graduating Wayne State University with a Master of Fine Arts Degree, and creates limited edition works as Land Marks Press. Avadenka has been an integral and involved member of the Detroit arts community for many years. She has received numerous awards including a Kresge Fellowship in 2009 and individual artist grants from The National Endowment for the Arts and the Michigan Council on the Arts and Cultural Affairs. Her work is exhibited and collected internationally.

DIY Creative Signal Return

DIY Creative Signal Return

Lee Marchalonis holds a Master of Fine Arts Degree in printmaking from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville where she also worked as a letterpress printer at Yee-Haw Industries. She has worked as a printer at Kala Institute in Berkeley, California and studied book arts at the University of Iowa. Most recently, she was teaching at Parsons the New School and at the Center for Book Arts in New York while working with artists to create custom bookbindings and enclosures.

Joel Grothaus is an artist and designer who graduated in 2010 from the College for Creative Studies with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Illustration.

Megan Trudeau manages the workshops, artists, the retail shop and web content. She has a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in graphic design from Wayne State University.

What kinds of trends are you seeing in letterpress and printing this year?
At Signal-Return we've had an increase in the number of people learning how to print so they can produce their own particular letterpress edition, whether that edition consists of wedding invitations, business cards or an original print. Education is the core of our mission, so we encourage people to get directly and hands-on involved with the creative process.

DIY Creative Signal Return

DIY Creative Signal Return

What do you think makes letterpress-created goods so appealing to people?Letterpress printing is old and new – a technology that radicalized human communication in the 15th century and an art and craft that is being appreciated anew in the 21st century. People respond to tactility, the rich look of ink on paper, the varieties of paper texture, thickness and color and the fact that process is evident in the resultant print.

DIY Creative Signal Return

DIY Creative Signal Return

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