Manfred Makowski rookie


Instantly smitten

How long have you been printing?

I can’t remember a time that I wasn’t printing with anything I could find: leaves, vegetables, fingers, you name it. My poor mother.

Describe your first encounter with letterpress

The first time I really engaged with letterpress was on a “circle tour” of Lake Michigan with my family. We stopped in at the Hamilton Wood Type Museum in Two Rivers, and I got to meet Stephanie Carpenter and Jim Moran. I was instantly smitten.

Where did you learn?

Officially, I learned printing at the University of Applied Sciences in both Düsseldorf and Bielefeld. Unofficially, I learned most by experimenting with my machines and learning from the belgian and dutch letterpress community.

Who was your most influential teacher?

I have been very fortunate to know some retired letterpress masters like Mr. Sonneck in Berlin-Kreuzberg or Thomas Gravemaker in Amsterdam.

What super power would you like to have?

A sharp sense of business.

Do you prefer to work alone or with others?

A mix of both. I love reaching that sense of flow that only happens late at night on your own. That said, I love the energy only possible by bouncing ideas around with others.

What do you most value in your friends?

Honesty, loyalty, and a great sense of humour are musts.

When do your best ideas occur to you?

When my wife wants me to do something else.

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

Notes monospace bold by my good friend Ole Schäfer, who recently passed away. I’m hoping that both of us have left something meaningful behind.

What tool do you use more often than any other?

The Vandercook Universal III.

What books are currently on your nightstand?

Tobi’s new book.

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

Benjamin Franklin. His workshop in Philadelphia was really interesting. It must have been an an amazing time to be alive.

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

I own a limited collection of lead and wood type. I collect rare materials with interesting surfaces to print with. I have 3 proof presses: Vandercook Universal III, Vandercook No. 320, FAG TP 550, some Sofadi Showcard presses and a Krause cutting machine.

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

It would be on the Isle of Skye and print money.

When and where are you the happiest?

Travelling with my family on the Isle of Skye. I’ve never experienced that much greenery and oxygen.

What is your greatest fear/worry?

Serious looking envelopes in the post.

What do you think is useful about what you make?

It brings joy. There isn’t enough joy in the world. Also, preserving cultural heritage.

What’s your day job?

I started my own design studio in Berlin almost 24 years ago. I offer client services in branding, corporate communications and digital marketing.

I occasionaly teach experimental printing (University Bielefeld, MSD Münster School of Design).

I run Holzpixel, a small letterpress gallery and studio. I welcome other contemporary artists like Dafi Kühne, Roman Klonek and Hans-Jürgen Söffker.

Do you use any other techniques or media besides letterpress?

I’m a trained carpenter and love photography.