The Sweetheart of the Road: A Letterpress Print Shop On-Wheels in the Pacific Northwest

The Cinderella story of a letterpress print shop on-wheels began once upon a time with a 1982 Chevy step van and was transformed from a raggedy old van to a beautiful letterpress print shop with the help of Kyle Durrie and a little magic.

Once upon a time there was a 1982 Chevy step van that was transformed from a raggedy old van to a beautiful letterpress print shop with the help of   Kyle Durrie and a little magic. A dash of man power and a touch of elbow grease crafted today’s only on-the-go letterpress truck in the country nicknamed the “Sweetheart of the Road.” 

The Moveable Type Truck was a dream come true for Kyle Durrie, a letterpress printer and proprietor of Power and Light Press that was born during the late summer of 2010, after going on a cross-country tour with her boyfriend’s band Run on Sentence. “By the time we got home from the tour, I had started dreaming my Moveable Type truck. I thought it would be a really different way for me to travel, and also a really inspirational adventure, learning a ton, and sharing what I know about this craft that I am so passionate about,”  described Durrie.

Over the last decade, a do-it-yourself (DIY) hand-made craft movement has swept across major North American cities and abroad. The Moveable Type Truck is a perfect fit to Portland as an urban epicenter of creative indie-entrepreneurship.   “I’ve always been a hands-on girl, and had made a living as an artist (drawing) before getting into letterpress. But this renaissance has definitely created a welcoming community for me to get involved in,”  said Durrie.

In 1440, Johannes Guttenberg created the first commercial form of printing for the past 500 years. Fast-forward to 2012, letterpress print making has seen a revival within cities of creative hubs across North America and abroad. “I’ve been letterpress printing since 2006 and have run my own shop, Power and Light Press, since 2009. This project is an extension of my full-time printing work,”  said Durrie.

“And so, on one sunny day in April, my brother and I tore everything out. Floors, walls, ceilings, ratty in”¦everything down to the metal skeleton”¦Turns out that diving right into demolition work and spending some time working under the truck is an incredibly empowering experience, and was just what I needed to feel like maybe, just maybe this was something I could actually pull off,”  recounted the creator of the Moveable Type Truck.

Durrie is currently enjoying a little R and R after nearly finishing a year-long tour across the states and tapping into the country above us in the Great White North. Folks may find Durrie and her letterpress truck from August through October throughout the Pacific Northwest. “It sounds kind of cheesy, but most of my moments on the road were memorable. There were very few disappointing days or experiences. Mostly this was because every single day I got to share something with someone new. It never got old, seeing the expression of joy when someone who had never printed before peeled up their sheet of paper off the press”¦there was always a ‘wow!’ moment, and it felt really good being able to foster that,”  said Durrie.

Kyle parks her truck at schools, universities, libraries, shops, galleries and many more places.

Kyle’s letterpress print shop on-the-road appears to be the queen of the highways as the only truck bringing letterpress print making into the neighborhoods of folks of both rural and urban neighborhoods. “I don’t know of any other letterpress trucks that are out on the road-ready yet”¦And I met a lot of other mobile businesses/projects along the way, from a traveling zine library, to a vintage clothing store in a bus, and I recently heard   about a letterpress bike set up, which sounds cool,”  said Durrie.

Kyle and her truck are currently wrapping up their 2012 tour ending in the Pacific Northwest.

Get in touch with the author @alicperez.

 culture, design, DIY

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