Valley List Serv Letterpress Prints

As an artist, writer and art director, I am focused on developing creativity through language and image. For me, language often takes precedence, using it to develop my ideas that are fleshed out by a team of graphic designers. I use wit and humor quite frequently as a way to bring humanity to the work that I do – which can often get lost in the rabbit hole of marketing speak. At home and with friends, I constantly play with words as a way to highlight the unique nature of language as something to be deconstructed. The study of deconstruction and the works of a philosopher like Jacques Derrida is at the heart of my own interest in understanding language. Derrida celebrated the innate ambiguity of language and suggested that words have different meanings based on each reader’s past experiences, cultural connections, or social influences. This idea, that language and texts are constantly open to interpretation, is core to a project I am working on that I call Valley List Serv.

I live in a small, rural community north of San Francisco that actively uses a (now considered) old fashioned list serv to share information. From the 1930s through the 1950s it was populated by rugged blue-collar families. Many of whom still remain. In the 1960s and 1970s the hippies came and brought their own set of values. The Grateful Dead lived down the road from me and Janis Joplin lived here too. (A few of the older locals tell great stories of Joplin stopping to pick them up when they were hitchhiking. She’d have one hand on the wheel and one hand on a bottle of liquor.) Content from my community’s very active list serv includes information that runs the gamut from buy and sell to local events and politics. The content can be straightforward but is also often odd, humorous or heartfelt. I use this content as the basis for my work and the result is a series of letterpress prints created at a small print studio in Point Reyes, California.

Beyond the deconstruction that happens when I strip context away and allow the reader to apply their own lens to decode meaning, the process of creating the work is a personal meditation. The act of setting old wood and metal type is a slow and difficult process and can often result in mistakes that have to be corrected. I find setting type to be a great way to concentrate on something outside my head and get away from the pressures of work and life – if at least for a few hours. For me, it’s also a variation on process art where the act of creating is more important than the final product. Although in this case, the final product can be quite beautiful. And finally, in using the community list serv as the basis for my personal meditation and my exploration of deconstruction, I am also creating a unique biographical portrait of a small community.