Kiva Stimac is an artist and printmaker who has been active in the Montreal poster scene for years, largely as the in-house designer for the many events associated with Casa del Popolo/Sala Rossa, which she co-owns with her partner Mauro Pezzente. Recently launching a brand new website for her print business Popolo Press, we thought it would be a great chance to chat with this talented lady about the ins and outs of letterpress printing, her new studio space, and the SUPER PRESSE CLUB pop-up-shop, which opens at Casa December 1. Print ain’t dead!
Kiva Stimac: Before me and Mauro started the Casa del Popolo in 2000 I was working as a cook, bookbinding and printing as a hobby and selling at craft fairs. I had been making linocuts and had collected a few wood and metal fonts for bookbinding. I didn’t go to art school, but both of my parents are artists. My father was a muralist and labour artist and always had a silkscreen set up in our house for printing posters for varied political and labour protests. My mother, as well as being a painter-sculptor-printmaker and high school art teacher, worked as an offset printer for a part of my childhood. On top of that my great grandfather was a poet-bookbinder-small press printer (letter press was all there was then) of yiddish books, so ink is in my blood.
I started designing/printing posters for shows when we started our yearly music festival, Suoni Per Il Popolo in 2001. We were inviting the artists and producing these shows ourselves, so we wanted to represent them well. Our festival runs for three weeks every June and paying other people for that many posters was not in our budget, so I started doing some of it myself out of my home studio. First, using silkscreen, spray paint, photocopy and relief prints with a bookbinding press and the back of a wooden spoon! It was fun, but very time consuming. I had a couple of fonts of wood type and some lead type and a carving knife.
Street postering in Montreal was illegal up until this year. Mauro actually went to the Supreme Court over this (the club gets the fines since their name is on the poster) and won. Another activist friend also went to the Supreme Court over his case and won as well, and now it is legal to poster in Montreal again! Yeah, freedom of speech.
D&D: When did you get your first press? What kind of presses and other printing tools/equipment do you have in your studio today?
KS: My first press was actually a small Kelsey, and could only really do mini prints. Then I got a flat bed Nolan, but it was when I got a 15 x 24″ showcard press four years ago that I really started my wood type collecting. After that I got a C & P Pilot Press for printing CD covers, handbills and small book runs. Two years ago I got a 25 x 34″ showcard press, and I can print real big now. I also have a flatbed Line O’ Scribe signmaker, as well as a full screen printing set up and a photopolymer plate maker, a 19″ Challenge paper cutter and a bookbinding press. And the cherry on the cake is around 100 fonts of wood and metal type.
I love the meditative-visceral element of actually carving a printing block, cutting a stencil for screen printing or hand inking/pulling a print. Some day it would be nice to have a Vandercook or other flatbed press that has automatic inking. I know it sounds like alot, but I really can use ‘em all.
KS: I started the SUPER PRESSE CLUB recently with a group of awesome local printmakers. I see it as a vehicle to bring us all together (alot of the time printing is a very asocial thing). Most of the artists in the group are people who have some connection to the music/performance/zine worlds in Montreal, and all are poster artists. I wanted to bring us together to be able to sell our art at a decent price without a huge chunk having to go to someone else, and also as a way to network and develop our art together as a community. Some printmaking, especially street poster making, isn’t a very lucrative endeavor, but it is definitely public art and that is what I like about it. It is not just about a gallery, it is out there for everyone to see.
It is also hard to live and survive as a working artist. There are some awesome collective and open print studios already in this city. Montreal is rich in printmaking history and we hope to continue and grow that tradition in light of the death of print! I hope that the SUPER PRESSE CLUB keeps evolving and we can do more group actions, have different venues where we can sell and expose stuff in town and on-line, as well as working on getting grants for things like workshops and community outreach.
This pop-up shop is going to be fantabulous! It will be a visual feast for the eyes. You will be able to walk out of there with some great art without hurting your bank account. There will definitely be something there for everyone. Gifts galore. And I think the fact that it will be in the Casa, a relaxed environment, not a stiff gallery or a hectic craft sale will add to your shopping pleasure. We will be open all month so you can take your time to decide what you want, or come back for more!
SUPER PRESSE CLUB Pop-up-shop | Casa del Popolo (4873 St-Laurent) – Venue side
12-5pm Thursday – Sunday for the first three weeks of December
12-5pm Tuesday – Friday in the week before Christmas
Opening Party: Saturday, December 3, 2-5pm
Featured Artists: Seripop, Simon Bossé, Julie Doucet, Jesse Purcell, Dominique Pétrin, Breeree, Tyler Rauman, Jacinthe Loranger, Daygristle, Kirsten McCrea, JP King, Popolo Press, and Nomnryn.