Alan Henderson Studio | About Alan Henderson Studio
letterpress, custom printing, triad, stationary
15317
page-template,page-template-full_width,page-template-full_width-php,page,page-id-15317,ajax_fade,page_not_loaded,,paspartu_enabled,qode-theme-ver-9.1.3,wpb-js-composer js-comp-ver-4.11.2.1,vc_responsive

About Us

Inside Alan Henderson Studio

Listen to the rhythmic breathing of the Heidelberg. Watch the mixing of vibrantly colored ink. Be there when the press closes together to make an impression on the first test print of the day. This is Alan in his element. A modern-day artisan who deeply loves the creative and collaborative process.

Soundtrack of the Heidelberg

Letterpress printers have a rhythm all their own, and every press has a personality. Get to know the presses in Alan Henderson Studio.

Mixing Ink

The painter in Alan loves a palette; hand-mixing inks is much the same approach. With an eye for color, he knows how to achieve the perfect hue.

The Rhythm of the Heidelberg

A meditation. A respiration. Call it what you will, the rhythm of the Heidelberg is as intriguing as the final product.

That Moment It All Comes Together

See what it’s like when the final, printed piece falls into the delivery table.

About Alan

Family Tradition.
Inspiration.
Authentic reflection.

 

Every note card is a work of art. I grew up around creative people and entrepreneurs. My studio is truly and authentically a “family business.” My grandfather was both an engineer and a great painter. He bestowed that same combination of precision and creativity upon me.

 

My grandmother was an entrepreneur. I spent every Saturday at the Sewing Center, her shop in downtown Henderson, Kentucky. And my mom, who enjoyed a career in advertising, is a part of my business. She can take anything I sketch for the wholesale side of my studio and bring it to life with thread and a needle.

 

I’m able to carry on a family tradition and an artisanal way of printing, bringing my own unique spin.

 

Quality consumes me. From food to clothing to my living and working spaces, I’m drawn to things that are distinctive and authentic — not mass-produced. In a world where just about everything is online and digital, letterpress printing is a tactile experience. Quality paper feels good to the touch and exudes the kind of quality that comes only from the handmade and the hand stamped. When I create one hundred notecards or business cards or coasters, I’m actually producing one hundred pieces of art.

 

I love working with different materials — wood, hemp and bamboo paper, fabric and cork — to create custom designs. I’m always looking for different ways to tackle the notecard or to re-invent the journal. I love the challenge of developing a new process whether that’s in printing or die cutting or the use of interesting materials. Some customers come to me knowing exactly what they want printed. Others ask me to create a custom piece. It’s all fun, it’s all creative and the end result is always highly original and thoughtfully designed.

 

I am a perfectionist. But I’m not a robot. I’m a tinkerer, like my grandfather and my father before me. I love to figure things out, and with the Heidelberg press, there are so many pieces of the puzzle.

 

And now for the typical bio… I earned a B.A. in Art Education from University of Kentucky. At age 19, I knew I wanted to combine art and commerce. Early in my career, I worked as a photo stylist at Southern Living, and as a designer at a renowned advertising agency in Birmingham, Alabama, where I collaborated with talented artists, photographers, and writers. I evolved away from agency world with one of my colleagues to launch and build a successful stationery company, Night Owl Paper Goods. In 2014, I established my own studio in North Carolina.

 

Why Winston-Salem? In 2014, my partner accepted a position as Chancellor at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. At that time, I set up my own letterpress design and print shop on Burke Street. I love grabbing lunch at Mozelle’s, riding my bike to work, and getting to know the great people of this area.

About Letterpress

Letterpress printing is an artisanal way of printing — the original way of printing. Letterpress printing is a 550-year-old process of printmaking in which paper is pressed onto a raised surface, with ink in between. Originally, letterpress was done with hand-set wood and metal type; I use modern plastic plates that allow me to print artwork from digital files. It’s exciting to combine this incredible art form with modern day aesthetics. More and more, I see people turning to letterpress for the beauty of the materials and kinship with the hand-crafted object. Printed pieces aren’t just “kissed” with ink, but instead have a “bite” — that deep impression that letterpress leaves in the paper. I love working with machines that have such a long history along with the challenge of managing their many different variables. When you consider all of its subtleties of texture and color, I truly believe that the results of letterpress printing are unmatched.

 

With letterpress, each print could be different, and that’s what I find so exciting. That’s what makes it an artform. I start with an idea, and then I grab a journal and sketch. Once the sketch is complete, I scan it and turn it into vector art so that I can send it to Burlington, NC, where a printing plate is made. Once I have the plate, the real work begins. I hand mix inks until I get the color just right. I check and double check and triple check the registration. I create die cuts in any shape the customer wants. And I’m big into delivery. I package the final goods to make the best possible presentation because I believe that’s what my customers deserve.

 

You’ve got to start with a quality paper, one that feels great in the hand and leaves a memorable impression. I’ve found that people value quality paper, distinctive design and excellent print quality. They want their materials to stand apart. My house sheet gets them noticed. It’s an outstanding product: 100% cotton paper that comes in single ply 110# or double ply 220# thickness and has an impressive eggshell finish.

 

There is a rhythm to letterpress that’s almost like a meditation. As the press opens and closes, it’s a swoosh… an in and an out… an inhale/exhale kind of thing. I can tell, just by listening, whether or not the press needs an adjustment. Each of my Heidelberg Windmills have a different personality. One is newer and quieter. The other one can be a little tricky. You learn how to work with each press once you get to know them. Heidelbergs have the ability to print on cardboard or something as thin as onion skin. It’s so amazing that letterpress has that much range of adjustment, but that’s largely what allows me to achieve the effect that customers want.

 

It’s easy to get people excited about letterpress when they see the process and what goes into a print. There are a lot of ups and downs with letterpress printing. It’s a labor of love. But there’s nothing like that satisfaction of when the printed piece appears. Even now, after seeing millions of prints land in the delivery table, I’m still amazed at how beautiful letterpress is.