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Re: Apprenticeship

Reading the threads about apprenticeships and internships and workshops
makes me think that something else which is an issue here is simply the
level of commitment, risk-taking, even, in some ways, irrationality. For me,
after I took one class from Walter Hamady at UW-Madison, I went to a bank
and convinced someone to give me a $1500 loan, with which I bought a press
(from Steve Miller, then in process of leaving Madison) and began making
books. I set type and printed all the time after that, having various
people, including Hamady, Katherine Kuehn, Walter Tisdale, Jim Escalante,
Pati Scobey, Ruth Lingen -- look at the work, and taking further classes as
a special student (I had gravitated to art out of a Ph.D. program in English
but was never a formal degree art student). It was about two years before I
printed a book which I did in a large enough edition to try to distribute
nationally and beyond. But the point is that I sort of did my apprenticeship
with myself, making sure I got some good help and criticism along the way. I
know other people who have done this in a similar way, and it works, too.
You just have to be a little crazy or obsessed, but humble enough to seek
help when you need it and to never think your work is too good (or else it
won't keep getting better). Also, this seems to be a path in which you will
develop your own strengths and vision as an artist.

Sometimes I wonder why more people don't do this -- why, for example, there
aren't two or three or more people every year who go through Minnesota
Center for Book Arts and simply take it on themselves to begin presses or
begin thinking of themselves as pre-professional binders, etc. At other
times I think that such behavior will always be the exception.

Are there others out there who did not do a formal internship or
apprenticeship or degree program but who simply decided to become book
artists of one sort or another and then made sure they did it with care and
determination? Or is this a romantic dream of some past no longer possible?


Charles Alexander
Chax Press
P.O. Box 19178
Minneapolis, MN  55419-0178
612-721-6063 (phone & fax)

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