Muddy Water Press is new to Maker Faire Kansas City this year. Tell us about yourself!
Muddy Water Press is owned/run by Alex Groh, with a variety of volunteers and regulars who come into the shop and help out. We’re (Meaning everyone who hangs around the shop. ) what we call a “commercial artist’s press”. Basically, we’re a mini-makerspace that doesn’t rely on donations or membership fees to stay open and expanding. We operate like a normal screen press would, designing and printing things for various clients to pay the bills, but our mission in life is to provide a space for artists and makers to come in, experiment, learn and produce their own products if they want or have us help do it for them. We’ve been running since April of 2014 and we just moved from our original tiny little garage space that we shared with a bakery, into a nice new 1,500 sqft. Print shop of our own.
We’re a big part of our local maker scene ( All five of us!). In reality, up here in the Iowa Mississippi River valley, we’re located in a fairly remote place so far as maker culture goes, so we keep in close contact with other makers from Chicago, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, Des Moines and so on. Our biggest goals in life are to bring maker and DIY culture to our area through what we do and teach, so I had never been to KC and wanted to visit one of our business inspirations; Hammer Press. What better excuse is there for a road trip than what I love to do most?
What is the inspiration for your projects?
When you’ve got as many heads in and out of the shop as we do on a regular basis, it’s an inspiration of it’s own just to have people there. By far, what keeps me motivated and looking forward to the next thing is the people who come in just out of curiousity and find themselves drawn to come back with an idea of their own. That’s why I and the volunteers try to take our learning experience on the road as often as possible. We’re doing 3 festivals in addition to Maker Faire in June and trying to add more to keep spreading the love of the screen print.
Watching people interact with something new, begin to understand it, and push the limits in new ways is an unbelievable experience. We just had a high-school kid in the shop who was working on trying to find ways to make screen-printable circuits with metal-bearing inks in order to create a flexible circuit. That’s something I would have ever considered as a use for the skillset, and even though we couldn’t figure out a way to get enough conductivity through the ink, it still led him to a break-through in using other materials.
Do you have a favorite type of canvas to work on?
My stockpiled stack of white poster printing paper is so tall that it’s a danger to anyone who comes near it, and we have more t-shirts sitting around than we know what to do with. Personally though? I’m in love with any oddball substrate I can get my hands on. Sheets of cork for beer coasters? Awesome. Metal signs? Way cool. I’ve even printed on laquered wood table tops. Every surface has it’s own unique challenges and properties, and they’re all so fun to figure out that it’s impossible to pick.
As a Maker, what inspires you?
Artistically; it’s the 1940’s, beer ( I graduated from art school in Milwaukee. It grows on you. ), vintage packaging, toys and comics books. It’s basically a list of all the stuff that you’d expect a poster/screen nerd to be into.
In terms of inspiration to keep working; it’s just the love of the chase and a challenge pure and simple. The day we become successful millionaires who don’t have to do anything to sell art, is the day I’ll quit forever. Part of the enjoyment in doing what we do is the challenge to keep growing while staying small and connected to our purpose itself. As a maker, business owner and designer, what gets the day going is the knowledge that what I’m doing here helps to teach people to engage their creative side and grow. It makes a rough day of designing much more tolerable to know that even though you’re frustrated, the 16 year-old kid on the other side of the shop who has never had a chance to be creative in his life has just pulled his first poster and found a new passion.
For more information about Muddy Water Press, please visit http://www.muddywaterpress.net/.