Putting a Front and Back on an Art Piece

by Jacob L Snizik

This past Wednesday, my group and I were given the honor of returning to the wonderful Mess Work Press in Wilkinsburg to fulfill part of our obligation as not only publishers, but printers of our collaboration work with poet Joe O’Connor, turning his piece “Why Poetry” into a physical booklet.

For close to three hours, my group and I churned out 300 or more book covers that will eventually envelope Joe O’Connor final printed work, we literally had to book end someone’s hope and dreams, and as a fellow writer, I found great pride in that. We printed the covers by hand, with ink that the print shop would normally use for their own hand made publications. The ink needed to be pressed by hand onto and through a premade film that held on it, the cover image, leaving only the cover paper with the image, freshly inked, on it.

It was labor, and by the end of the whole process everyone had tired hands and arms, I know I did, but it was a labor done with care and respect. Ever since the author came to us with this proposition, I’ve been truly honored to be part of team of college students that an adult poet has enough trust and faith in to help bring his creation into the world. It’s been a journey and a very unique experience, I’ve had to do things I never thought I’d have to do, and there’s so much more work to be done.

The greatest take away I’ve taken from this printing experience as a whole is that I’ve been given the chance to see all the work it takes to bring a book into print. As a writer, I always thought, a tad selfishly but while also being real, that the publishing process is someone else’s work, and that somehow the book as you’d see it at the book store you just appear. I’ve learned that that is far from the truth, and now that I know that, I love being immersed in the experience.

I can’t wait to finally hold the booklets in my hand and to read the fresh poetry.

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