Steve Garst, adjunct professor, designed, manufactured, and released 134 printing presses to help 25+ printmaking and letterpress university programs around the US cope with the COVID-19 pandemic. This has allowed programs to teach printing with presses despite social distancing measures not allowing them to access their standard equipment.
Garst said, “For many recent graduates, having access to the equipment needed to make art is unattainable. University-quality presses can cost $10,000-$20,000 and even a small entry-level press can cost over $1000 and weigh several hundred pounds.”
Over the past decade, Garst has been working to design a press that would allow students to build it in order to have more affordable access to a printing press. Open-source plans for this small printing press were released in January 2020. These plans only required the use of a university laser cutter and roughly $40 worth of materials.
With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, needs changed. A group of educators approached Garst in May 2020 and said that they still needed to teach their classes, but no longer had access to their laser cutters. Knowing a solution was needed fast, Garst enlisted the help of friend Scott Moore and adjusted the plans for his affordable press to be able to produce them in the quantity needed.
Garst explained, “Since then, I have made and sold over 450 presses. Over 250 of those have gone to 50+ university programs around the country. They are also being used by grade schools, art centers, and independent artists. There have been over 200 of the open-source presses built in at least 8 different countries.”