Anna Robinson rookie

Hands and tools moving together

How long have you been printing?

I pulled my first letterpress print in 2015 but really I feel like I'm still starting.

Describe your first encounter with letterpress

The first time I walked into a "real" print shop was when I met my brother-in-law Tony Zanni of Type High Letterpress in Rochester, New York. I immediately fell in love with the cabinets and cases, the character of the wood type, the gorgeous machinery of the presses, the dance between the old tools and crisp paper. I spent a few hours just pulling drawers open and asking questions. He helped me set type for a small print describing care instructions for the wooden spoons I was carving at the time. He also let me pull some prints on the Heidelberg and Vandercook. By the next time I visited, he was helping me pick out type to start my own collection.

Where did you learn?

I'm very much still a beginner and learn wherever I go.

Who was your most influential teacher?

In studying poetry, writing, and the ongoing project of living in the world, Renée Ruderman.
In my career as a furniture maker, John Harvey.
Trial and error have also been very influential to my practice.

What super power would you like to have?

I'm sure it would have all kinds of negative side effects on societal and cellular levels, but teleportation please.

Do you prefer to work alone or with others?

My favorite way to work is alone on my own project in the company of others who are doing the same. That way I get the value of feedback, ideation, energy, and extra hands but also the freedom to take the project where I want it to go.

What do you most value in your friends?

Space to be my full self.

When do your best ideas occur to you?

Right before I fall asleep. Bonus if it's for an afternoon nap.

If you were to die and come back as a typeface, which would it be?

Probably a stylized, connected geometric script best suited to car emblems from the 1950s.

What tool do you use more often than any other?

My hands. And the 4" combination square that lives in my apron pocket.

What books are currently on your nightstand?

On Earth We Were Briefly Gorgeous - Ocean Vuong
Dune - Frank Herbert
Braided Sweetgrass - Robin Wall Kimmerer
Are Prisons Obsolete - Angela Davis
But also an iPad loaded up with episodes of Star Trek Voyager

If you could study with any printer throughout history, who would it be?

I don't know much printing history, but I'd gladly study with Myrna Keliher for a season!

If you have your own shop, what equipment do you own?

A 2/3 type cabinet, 6.5"×10" Craftsmen platen press, and probably too much furniture. I also occasionally make plates with my Glowforge laser cutter.

If you could change one thing about your shop, what would it be?

To make it functional! Right now, I have all the ingredients to print, but they're scattered around my dining room among the moving boxes.

When and where are you the happiest?

When I'm in the flow mid-project, hands and tools moving together. Sawdust, natural light, good music.

What is your greatest fear/worry?

Wasting my life.

What do you think is useful about what you make?

Much of what I make is useful by default: brushes, cabinets, baskets, quilts. I aim to make useful things beautiful.

What’s your day job?

To make things and try to sell them, with a side of freelance editing.

Do you use any other techniques or media besides letterpress?

Almost entirely. I'm actually a furniture maker, woodworker, quilter, and have lately been spinning paper packaging into cord and weaving it into baskets.