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Leviís Workshops

Ready, Set, Print!

Curious about letterpress, silkscreening, printmaking, or in need of printmaking facilities? For the next eight weeks, San Francisco-based Leviís has set up a temporary space on Valencia at 17th, inviting the public to interact with local print pioneers to learn about printmaking processes and dabble in their own creative endeavors.

Dovetailing from the brandís Go Forth marketing campaign (ďpaying homage to the principles of hard work and civic engagementĒ), the first of a series of Leviís Workshops launched in San Francisco July 1st.

Leviís Workshops encompass three facets: functional workshop, community event space, and retail storefront. The eight-week calendar is chock-full of events ranging from book and magazine release parties to workshops with local superstars Alice Waters, Craig Newmark, and Aaron Rose. All events are free, but attendees must RSVP in advance.

All Sundayís are purposely unscheduled for whosoever pleases to come in and create. Whether you just want to see what itís like to create a letterpress poster or you have a design youíve been dying to screen print, or youíd like to bring your zine to life, use of the facilities is free. All works displayed and friendly machine operators provide plenty of inspiration and encouragement to those who want it.

Printing facilities include an impressive Vandercook Hand Test Press, last manufactured in the 60s, various other letterpress machines, a photo-copy machine for zines, a screen printing station utilizing natural UV sunlight or a light box, and more.

In the half hour I spent at Workshops, I got to make a print on the Vandercook with the help of local bookmaker/letterpress artist Taylor Reid (check out her goods at and screen print a T-shirt with the image of Johannes Gensfleisch zur Laden zum Gutenberg, inventor of mechanical movable type printing ó better known as the godfather of print who introduced modern book printing.

The retail component of the store is a small island between the loungy rock poster gallery (featuring works by Dirk Fowler), the Zine Library station and the screen-printing station. Comprised of a small selection of denim, the product selection and placement is tasteful and not overbearing, not detracting from the creating and printing elements. If the denim aprons worn by the staff are available for sale, snatch one up! Youíll not likely find these floating around in retail stores.

Lovers and collectors of concert posters shouldnít miss the Rock Paper Show book launch this Friday night. Rock Paper Show: Flatstock Volume 1 showcases the history behind the first 20 Flaststocks (Flatstock being the American Poster Instituteís ongoing rock-poster exhibit), with contributions from various artists, studios, critics and collectors. Rock Paper Show curator and American Poster Institute president Geoff Peveto will be in attendance to speak on the book and the phenomenon, and featured artist Jason Munn will be autographing copies.

Giants fans: donít miss Leviís Workshops Night at the Giants-Marlins game on July 27th. Shepard Faireyís Studio Number One has collaborated with the Giants to design a special collection of baseball cards to be gifted to all game attendees, and a short film will be played on the scoreboard during the seventh inning.

As a fan of Aaron Rose, I wonít be missing his Sister Corita Silkscreen Workshop, so-named for the use of the imagery of Sister Corita Kent. Sister Coritaís artistry and expertise with silkscreen translated to beautiful messages of love and peace that developed an enthusiastic following in the 60s and 79s and made her an icon. Also not-to-be missed: a performance by Tommy Guerrero in August in celebration of his SF/LA collaborative project with Natas Kaupas.

The idea of a corporate clothing company masterminding a community creative endeavor may be off-putting or ring insincere to some, but Leviís Workshops are artfully produced and accessible. Thoughtfully planned programming featuring Bay Area printmaker icons and artists with complimentary use of excellent printing facilities combine for rare opportunities not to be missed. The closing party August 28th.

While San Franciscoís Workshops focus on printmaking, the next series in New York will focus on photography.