Studio Spaces: Starshaped Press

I'm excited to bring back a few Studio Space tours this month from some of the artists participating in our market. It's been a while since we've featured their creative spaces and it feels good to see them again! First up, Starshaped Press!

Artist Name: Jennifer Farrell/Starshaped Press
Shop site:
Blog: none, but we are on facebook and flickr under Starshaped Press
City: Chicago

Where in your home/apartment/city is your studio located?
Starshaped Press is located in the lovely Ravenswood neighborhood of Chicago. It's situated right on Ravenswood Avenue, a large street surrounded by both commuter and public transit trains, and lined with small industrial buildings. It had been a hub of printing in past years, but now features many small businesses, shops, galleries and restaurants.

What equipment/tools do you use?
We do all letterpress printing, so we work with both Chandler and Price presses (two of them), one Vandercook, and a few small Sigwalts for occasional proofing, demonstrations, etc. We print all of our projects exclusively with hand set metal and wood type, along with hand carved linoleum cuts, so our studio houses a large collection of type, approx. 350 different typefaces.

Do you have an inspiration board, and can you tell us what is inspiring you now? (if so, please include picture)
Because we have so many clients coming by the studio, most of what we have hanging up is work we've done in house (to show off our capabilities and to use as explanation for the types of projects we can do). Instead, we bury ourselves in our large library of design books and old type specimen catalogs. Right now, I'm loving the book, The Handy Book Of Artistic Printing, as it's given me great ideas for how to push the envelope with handset type (i.e., setting it on curves, working in multiple colors, creating images out of ornaments). I'm also very inspired by Sky at Skyline Type Foundry ( as he continues to cast new type out of recycled metal, making it possible to get beautiful old typefaces cast in metal for reasonable prices.

How do you create best (e.g. do you listen to music while you create and if so what?)
How I work depends on the type of project. If we're working on a poster, I jump right into the type and start pushing it around. Because they're often music-based, I listen to whatever puts me in the mood for that particular job; recently I did a very esoteric poster for the Chicago cast of the show Jersey Boys, as my husband is a stagehand that worked on the show since it's debut here (he wanted a great souvenir to hand out to everyone). We knew we wanted something 60's inspired to be of the Frankie Valli period, so we had Four Seasons songs streaming out of the studio for days! Many of our smaller projects, like stylized invitations and stationery, are based in our type collection from the 20's, so we listen to a lot of jazz and silent film music of the period (also inspiring the video on our site), as well as old timey radio shows in audiobook form. And again, I like to dig through old books for ideas on how to best work with our type collection. Whatever we can do to immerse ourselves in the periods that best represent the equipment we're working with.

List (3) of your favorite artists (with links, list the link, then the name)
Two of my favorites are actually good friends, Nick Butcher and Nadine Nakanishi of Sonnenzimmer, here in Chicago. Fantastic fine art and screenprinting. Nadine and I meet up to geek out on typography as much as we can.
And we're loving our new friends at Roll and Tumble Press, and find their old school work super inspiring! It's fantastic to see wood type getting pushed in new directions! (they're on Poppytalk, obviously!)

If yours isn't, what would be your perfect studio?
Actually, apart from wishing for a bit more natural light, the studio, about 900 square feet, is pretty perfect, and is in a pristine Deco-styled building. If we had any more space it would be difficult to move so quickly between the type cases and the presses, and we can always find room for more type and books.

Jan Halvarson


RollandTumble said...

YAY Jen.......what a great interview ( and thanks for the mention!)

nesting.emily said...

I really enjoyed this interveiw. My Dad use to type setting and it makes me so happy to see a studio so beautifully set up. I wish i could come visit. I also liked the favourite artists section- 2 new favs for me as well : )

a. favorite design said...

starshaped is an amazing studio! so organized a beautiful... plus jen is super talented & just as sweet! gorgeous photos, thanks for sharing.

a. favorite design said...

starshaped is an amazing studio! so organized & beautiful... plus jen is super talented & just as sweet! gorgeous photos, thanks for sharing.

sarah said...

Great photos of the studio! It's an amazing place, run by the amazing Jen.

Coco Cake Land said...

inspiring post... thanks so much for sharing... go starshaped! :)