Spudnik Press fundraises to move to larger space

By Brianna Wellen

In a typical shared art studio, painters set easels up where they like, sculptors section off areas to work with clay and artists squeeze into corners with sketchbooks and pencils. The setting is a little different for printmakers. Their equipment measures at least 2 feet wide for each machine. In Spudnik Press’s current facilities, 1821 W. Hubbard St., artists find themselves bumping elbows during classes and playing a waiting game during open studio hours. For Spudnik members, though, cramped working conditions may no longer be an obstacle.

Recent collaborations and ongoing projects have brought attention and members to Spudnik Press. As the Chicago screen printing studio’s community grows, so does its need for space. Through its Space Race program, promoting fundraising events and asking for support from members and key holders, Spudnik’s goal is to move to a larger space by May.

Born as a studio space inside founder Angee Lennard’s apartment approximately 3 1/2 years ago, Spudnik Press first moved into a commercial space 2 1/2 years ago. Since then, it has become a nonprofit organization and offers more screen-printing classes, a residency program and a key holders’ program in a dedicated space it is currently outgrowing.

“The larger space will just allow more people to work at the same time, which isn’t really exciting, but it is if you’re one of those people working here now,” Lennard said. “It will basically allow us to do what we already do better and more.”

Along with accommodating more people, Lennard said the new space will allow for different printing experiences with new equipment recently acquired by Spudnik. An offset press with a few letterpresses have been in storage since the fall because there isn’t room for them, Lennard said. Spudnik hopes to get more new machines through fundraising events, she added.

As a nonprofit, Spudnik Press receives financial support through membership fees, key holder fees and donations. But the cost of moving exceeds what is currently being brought in. Small events, such as Art Documentation Day, which took place on Jan. 30, call upon artists to donate in exchange for resources to build their portfolio or improve their work. However, its largest event, which is on Feb. 26, takes the artists out of their element.

“Our big fundraiser is called Hashbrown, and it’s going to be a chili cook off,” Lennard said. “We invited 10 other Chicago print shops to come defend their honor through chili. It should be really fun and bring out a lot of printmakers.”

While the ultimate goal is to move the studio to a larger space, these events also help build a larger community and awareness of Chicago printmakers who may not have otherwise been involved in public events, according to Tom Wilder, treasurer on the Spudnik board of directors and studio member.

As a businessman surrounded by artists, Wilder came across screen printing as something fun to do and has been a loyal Spudnik supporter for a year and a half.

“Not being the artsy one in the group I think I realize a lot of these people are really introverted. They just want to stick to themselves and have trouble getting out there and talking to people,” Wilder said. “Some of the people [who] said yes [to participate in Hashbrown], I was shocked just from knowing them and how shy they are that they would even consider it.”

A recent collaborative project also put Spudnik screen printers in the public eye in a way they’re not used to. Colin Palombi, Spudnik member, created the 10 by 10 project in which artists chose musicians they want to create for. According to Palombi, working with bands often limits printmakers because they don’t have the opportunity to choose who they work with.

“I was interested in having a situation where artists could approach someone they may not have known otherwise,” Palombi said. “I knew Angee and Spudnik are always looking for ways to expand who they’re working with.”

Shows based on the 10 by 10 project were performed at the Whistler, 2421 N. Milwaukee Ave., and an exhibition at the Living Room Gallery, 1530 W. Superior St., will run through Feb. 19. Coinciding with the Space Race program’s launch, the project exposed Spudnik’s mission to an outside audience.

As the fundraising continues, Lennard has contemplated using Kickstarter.com to complete Spudnik’s goal, offering things such as harmonica lessons to those who donate. Through every tactic tried, there will be an element that supports, educates or showcases artists and the surrounding community, Lennard said.

“I’m really excited we’re able to tie in one of our mission statements as a nonprofit as we’re raising funds,” Lennard said.

Hashbrown will take place on Feb. 26 from 7 p.m. to midnight at Spudnik Press, 1821 W. Hubbard St., suite 308, and will cost $10. For more information on upcoming events or to donate to the Space Race fund, visit SpudnikPress.com.