In 2011 I lived in the Bay Area and had been working as the Studio Manager at the SF Center for the Book for about ten years. I taught letterpress printing classes, maintained the studio equipment and rented the studio to printers, many of whom were just starting up their own letterpress businesses. Over the years I helped lots of people start up in the letterpress business, but had never really considered starting my own. But then my family and I were considering moving to Reno Nevada and I began to dream a little about having my own studio with my own equipment.
Then one day out of the blue, Lawrence Ferlinghetti (or actually his personal assistant) called me! I had done some printing for him years before when he did a poetry reading at the Center for the Book. Mr. Ferlinghetti remembered me and wanted to know if I would be interested in printing and binding a book of his poetry. This was my big breakthrough! It was an honor to work with a poet of his caliber. Over the course of several months and during the process of our move to Reno I created a limited edition of 250 letterpress printed hand bound books, the first edition of a long poem by Ferlinghetti.
We moved to Meridian Lane in Reno and I named my new business Meridian Press. I realized that the thing that would make my letterpress business unique and interesting was that I could also make custom handmade books for poets, writers, memoirists, etc. Half of Meridian Press consists of letterpress printed greeting cards and limited edition prints. The other half is the custom handmade books I make for clients. I love working with all the different types of people who have ordered books from me. It is a wonder challenge to turn their vision into reality. And I love that the part of my life as a writer has been integrated into the part of my life as a printer and business owner.
Who are your heros in real life?
My heros are creative people who also create community and participate in the life of the world. Lawrence Ferlinghetti, beat poet, owner of the famous City Lights Bookstore, is also a painter, a publisher and for a short time, a letterpress printer. Patricia Wakida, an artist, writer and editor from Oakland CA, is a master of invention and community building. The members of Indie Reno here in Reno are masters of this as well, men and women who are not only creative but also able to create the space in their busy lives to start a business selling the things they make.
How do you balance your day-to-day commitments with your creative pursuits?
My personal challenge is to balance my time between taking care of my two small children (Hunter is 6 and Lydia is 4) and running my business. One way I try to do this is by having very strict boundaries. I only work during the week when both my children are in school, and my studio is in a converted garage, not in our house, so when I am in the studio I work and when I’m in the house I do housework and hang out with my kids. This seems obvious but it can be a big challenge. Meridian Press could grow more quickly if I spent more hours working, but I don’t want to be distracted and unavailable to my kids. On the other hand, I could hang out with my kids even more if I did the grocery shopping etc. while they were at school, but I don’t want to sacrifice any of the time I’ve set aside for Meridian Press. So I try to seek a balance. I will never be able to do everything I want to do either for my business or with my family. I try to prioritize (oh, and I am a BIG listmaker!) and be OK with the compromises of real life.
What are your other passions?
I am a poet. I am published nationally but seldom have time these days to submit work. I belong to a group of other poets who meet once a month to look at each other’s work. Poetry is very important to me and I struggle to make time for it in my life. At the present moment is sort of playing second fiddle to my business, but it remains a priority.
Also and more recreationally I love calendars, maps, good literature, the third world and the high Sierras.
What’s next for you?
Meridian Press holidays shows! A New Year’s trip to the hot springs! Some great winter hikes in Nevada! The finish of Meridian Press’s latest edition–an amazing book of poems by Alexa Mergen which will be released at the Sacramento Poetry Center in February 2015.