Bryan Stuparyk is the founder of Steam Whistle Letterpress, a Cincinnati-based letterpress studio where he prints each greeting card, postcard, and poster by hand. The colorful images on his products reflect the unique and vibrant city where they are created, and serve as a great way to commemorate the Cincinnati experience. His work is available in the 21c Cincinnati Museum Shop and on his website, steamwhistlepress.com.
Are you native to Cincinnati? If not, how did you end up here?
I not a native of Cincinnati, I am originally from Canada. My family was living in Mexico when my father’s job brought us to the US and we moved to Cincinnati in 1996. I have lived all over the place including a few years each in Florida, Michigan, Kansas and Missouri.
How did you start printmaking? When did you turn it into a business?
I began exploring printmaking while studying photography in the 1990’s. The aspect of photography I found most interesting was the technical way the image was reproduced, whether by photochemical means or hand engraving or another method. The history behind the reproduction of text and images (what would become the technology of “printmaking”) is ancient and fascinating. After finishing my degree in photography, I decided to concentrate on printmaking and received my MFA in Print Media from Cranbrook Academy of Art. In the years following, I worked as an artist and educator, finally working full time at Northern Kentucky University teaching printmaking. Though I enjoy teaching people about the art and science of printmaking, I found that I had less and less time to actually make any prints. I decided to put a teaching career on hold open my own shop, make my own work to understand what it means to be a traditional printmaker in a digital world! Of course what I do now is angled more toward a commercial market. Steam Whistle Press has been operating since 2011.
What do you love about living in Cincinnati? Are there a lot of other printmakers in the area?
Cincinnati is actually a terrific location for printmaking, and for a few reasons. Geographically it’s very close to the traditional publishing centers of the country, meaning that equipment that the industry considers obsolete but is still of use to fine art printmakers is available and close by (a good thing since it’s usually also heavy!). The city itself has a rich history of printing, the evidence of which can be found in both public and private collections. Also – the City of Cincinnati houses a fine arts press, Tiger Lily Press, access to which is available to everyone through the Cincinnati Recreation Commission. Of course, the relatively low cost of living here also really helps, among other reasons it allows the artist to lease and secure way more space to work than in a larger, more expensive city.