Located in Detroit’s incredibly unique Eastern Market, Signal-Return welcomes you in with a large yellow finger pointing toward the entrance. The letterpress studio opened in 2011 with the mission “to teach, advance and preserve the tradition, craft, and art of letterpress printing.”
I had the chance to sit down with Bryan Baker Signal-Return’s printer-in-residence. The moment you start talking letterpress with Bryan, you can feel his passion for the art of printing. A Hamtramck resident, Bryan started teaching workshops and classes at the studio two years ago, and he’s been with Signal-Return full time since February. Here’s Bryan’s take on this unique Detroit business.
What does letterpress printing mean to you?
For me, it’s important nowadays to teach people a craft. As time has gone on, other forms of printing has gotten cheaper in terms of both quality and cost. In our fast-paced digital world, most business is done through email. It’s important to have something like a letterpress print that has a sense of history and timelessness.
Why do you think it’s important to have places like Signal-Return in a city like Detroit?
To have a place where people can produce their print within the city limits is pretty special. For example, couples will come into the studio to print their wedding invitations. Rather than try to explain all of the details over the phone, they come to the studio, and it makes it easier to give them an idea of what they’re looking at. They can feel the paper, work on the design with the printer, etc. It’s also great to have artists of all kinds – designers, poets, writers, etc. – take their talents and apply it to a different type of medium.
What has been the best part about working at Signal-Return?
There hasn’t been one standout moment, but the constant flow of new people coming in is incredible. Some of them seek us out while others stumble upon us during their Eastern Market stroll.
What’s your outlook for the future of Signal-Return within the city of Detroit?
We’re pretty satisfied with where we’ve gotten to in the three years Signal-Return has been open. We’re still fairly young and are very proud of what we have here. We do have some potential partnerships in the works with some local universities to get all of the printing talent in the studio for workshops, projects and classes.
How can people find out about Signal-Return?
Come in the store! Our team is happy to show you around. We have plenty of information on our different classes, workshops and events. You can even meet our professional shop dog, Isabelle. As always, you can check out our wonderfully awesome website for all of our information.
Let me tell you – you MUST go check out Signal-Return. A wonderful member of the Signal-Return team will welcome you in; whether it’s Bryan, Lynne Avadenka, Artistic Director, Jane Hoehner, Managing Director, Joel Grothaus, Studio Technician, or Megan Trudeau, Shop Manager.
You may leave with nothing, you may leave with a beautifully hand-printed poster, or you may leave with an appointment for your first letterpress workshop class. But I promise you will not be disappointed with your visit. Great environment, great people and great artwork make for a great time.
Check them out during your next stroll through Eastern Market. Also, visit SignalReturnPress.org for information on workshops, group visits, store hours and more!