Lack of artistic talent? No problem. Maybe creativity is your middle name? Also awesome.
Anyone can create frameable Friday artwork – no skills required. Simply join the fifth annual Lancaster Print Crawl, which will offer attendees a chance to learn about the local print scene while creating a hand-printed color poster for display.
“It’s for everyone or anyone,” says Megan Zettlemoyer, owner of Typothecary Letterpress on Grant Street. “It’s so much fun.” The Lancaster resident, who also teaches graphic design at Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology, launched the first print exploration in 2017, after attending a similar event in Nashville. She brought the concept to Lancaster, recruiting other companies to participate. The event came to a halt in 2020 due to the pandemic.
“I like the idea that it’s a community event and you don’t have to be interested in printing,” says Zettlemoyer.
The crawl, from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., includes a one-way ride through downtown Lancaster with stops at eight local businesses over three-quarters of a mile. Each location adds knowledge and a practical step in the printing process. Experiences include screen printing, letterpress printing, stamping, laser cutting and vinyl graphics.
However, personal involvement is not a requirement. Participants can choose to have print shop volunteers complete each step of the exploration, says Zettlemoyer.
Dan Flynn says he’s “more than honored” that Zettlemoyer asked him to participate in the print crawl. Flynn owns A Day In the Life Records on Walnut Street. Technically, Flynn’s company does not offer printing services, but volunteers will provide a stamp that attendees can add to their posters.
“We love the work that (Zettlemoyer) does,” Flynn says. “We are fans of the exploration of print.”
FORCEpkg, a Lancaster design agency, was involved in the exploration from the start, says owner Tom Newmaster. The Queen Street company will offer crawlers a choice of sticker to add to their poster. “They can make their poster unique,” he says.
Decals will have special effects like foil or embossed. Newmaster also loves the crawl because it gives participants an inside look at downtown. “You come to stores where you wouldn’t normally go,” he says. “It’s a great way to explore.”
Attendees don’t have to follow a set order when visiting stores, says Rebecca Wood, owner of graphic design company Foxduck with her husband Ryan Keates and brother Jos Wood. The King Street business focuses on screen printing and sells T-shirts in its retail space.
“People can step in anywhere, but you have to hit all the stops,” she says. Wood describes the process of print exploration as adding a layer to a design in every business. For example, Foxduck will offer black ink this year.
“It’s my favorite event of the year,” says Wood, because the “easy access” aspect of the event attracts attendees. “It’s a win on so many levels.”
Zettlemoyer has hired an illustrator to design the poster, and the finished product will remain a secret until Friday. Each blank canvas, 13 by 19 inches, will cost $5, with proceeds and donations going towards two graphic design scholarships — one to Thaddeus Stevens and one to the Pennsylvania College of Art & Design. College students who show ID can print for free.
Despite an abundance of state-of-the-art home printers and online design, business printing and graphic design thrive in Lancaster, says Zettlemoyer. His company combines lead letters, numbers and symbols with digital design. “It’s a combination of modern and vintage technology.”
Zettlemoyer urges attendees to start early as the popular event has been attracting customers for the past few years. She expects to sell between 400 and 500 posters this year. Anyone interested can order a poster in advance to speed up the process at lancasterprintcrawl.com.