Friday, November 14, 2008

Announcing our First Print of The New Series; Los Angeles Loteria II

Aardvark Letterpress' Loteria Series II starts off with a powerful impression by scratchboard artist and former cinematographer, David Trulli. "La Sonadora", (The Dreamer) is a Signed Edition of 100, 70 of which are available for individual purchase from Aardvark by telephone (see website for more information on prints and how to purchase).


Wednesday, October 1, 2008

L.A. Weekly Best of Los Angeles

Best Lost Art Found: Aardvark Letterpress

By Sam Slovick

Published on October 02, 2008

Luis Ocon is 71 by now. He mostly just comes in and spins the machines, and tinkers around sometimes. But back in the ’60s in Mexico City, he was setting slugs with the best of ‘em. Then, the California-dreaming linotype operator made his way to the USA and pressed on to Hollywood, where he got a job at the Aardvark Letterpress.

“With a little bit of patience, and a whole lot of imagination, anything is possible,” is the motto he coined — one that the vintage printer on Seventh Street across from MacArthur Park still embraces today.

Luis worked his way up the ladder at Aardvark and bought the business in 1978. In 1980, he bought a 100-year-old Chandler & Price hand-operated printing press, and Aardvark Letterpress moved on from typography to become one of the best-known letterpress printers by 1982.

The Aardvark Press is a remnant from a bygone era: the letterpress-printing era. It’s still operating at a level of mastery that you rarely see in a world of soulless computer-generated business cards and e-vites. There’s a weight and density to what Aardvark produces. It’s tactile ... texturous. You can feel the quality of the work. It makes an impression on the paper, and the paper makes an impression on every hand that touches it.

The old Chandler & Price hand-operated press is still in operation, as well as two Heidelberg windmill presses and a Miehle V-50 vertical press. The clientele is diverse, ranging from top designers to studios, museums, artists and, of course, movie stars.

The future didn’t always look so bright for these craftsmen. Luis’ son Brooks remembers a dark hour in the ’80s, after computer design’s abrupt intrusion into the printing world. “Business and the age-old process of setting hard type was being pushed out by cheap, instant computer typesetting,” he says. But the family business operated by Brooks and his mother and father persevered. Brooks’ brother Cary came back into the fold around that time.

“My brother was actually a lawyer,” Brooks confides as if he’s disclosing a dirty secret. “He was one of those frustrated lawyers. He hated it. He was having nightmares. He came back to help his ol’ brother.” Together they’ve transformed the traditional industrial print shop into a custom studio.

“Debra Messing ... a lot of people who aren’t famous, like Steve Tish, those billionaire types,” Brooks struggles to name their celebrity clients. “I can never think of them when you ask ... um ... Bruce Willis. My brother just took a bunch of movie-star pictures off the wall the other day.”

Aardvark is a sanctuary; walking through the doors is time travel from another dimension where, like the machinery here, life is considerably less complicated and the end product is quality and value.

The shop prints for a lot of artists. Brooks and company have assembled an impressive group of L.A.’s best to launch their fine-art department’s first project: “Los Angeles Loteria,”featuring 18 L.A. artists. You can see some of the work now at the Tobey C. Moss Gallery (7321 Beverly Blvd.,

Of course, like everything else they do at Aardvark... it’s worth looking at.

2500 W. Seventh St., L.A., (213) 388-2271 or www.­

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Sammy Harkham, Sooooooper Genius!

One of our contributors, Sammy Harkham is publisher of a groundbreaking comics anthology that first brought him to my attention. Kramer's Ergot Volume II will see the light of day in November, and we can barely wait until then. In the meantime, he's being hailed as a genius over here: Zeek: A Journal of Jewish Thought and Culture
Have a look at his Los Angeles Loteria Card (art he created for our first fine art edition). Still available(the edition size is 100) for only $300 until January: DOMINGO

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Aardvark Letterpress Print Uses Four-Color Process

The new addition to our letterpress is our fine art division. It’s under it’s aegis that we created the first set of our three-part Loteria Series, some of which we’ve chronicled on this blog. Of the first eighteen images, one was printed like no other: EL JEFE, Loteria #19 by Ed Wexler was done using the four process colors (magenta, yellow, cyan and black) in order to render a full-color image in service to Ed’s signature style.

With 17 of the 18 prints, each plate represents one color in solid blocks with no overlap. In the four-color process, colors are overlayed to produce a wide spectrum of color through mixing. For a complex artwork with multiple tones like Ed’s, we determined, along with advice from Claudia Laub (another of our artists and legendary letterpress goddess) that four-color was the way to go.

The most critical part of the operation is the adjustment of the colors while on the press.

Like all the others, this print was beautifully achieved on the Vandercook 4 Letterpress.

Even though in an edition of one-hundred, there is more variation in each of these prints than in those accomplished in the usual manner revealing the hand and fine art not just of Ed Wexler who supervised his print run but also of master pressman Bill Berkuta.

Bill also teaches classes at The International Printing Museum in Carson, CA.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Tobey C. Moss Gallery exhibits Loteria

The sage and delightful Tobey Moss and her lovely gallery director Erin Kurinsky have generously included three of our beautiful Loteria Prints in their latest exhibition ART OF THE AMERICAS.

We highly recommend that you make time to see this show. It runs through August 30th and includes amazing works that are reasonably priced by many artists including Carlos Almaraz, Francisco Toledo, Raul Anguiano, Lola Alvarez Bravo, Leonora Carrington , Carlos Merida, Rufino Tamayo, Gronk and our three artists; Daniel Gonzalez, Dave Lefner, Ernesto Yerena

Tobey C. Moss Gallery 7321 Beverly BoulevardLos Angeles California 90036 • (323) 933-5523

Friday, June 27, 2008

Thank you, Honeysweet Productions

Cary Ocon and Erick Weiss

The auspicious/official launch party for Aardvark’s Fine Art Editions division would not have been possible without the brilliant ideas and expertise of Erick Weiss of Honeysweet Productions.

Aardvark Letterpress gets party dress

L.A. is crammed with event planners that can secure permits and throw a party and we count many of them among our friends. We thought we had a tough choice to make but in the end Erick and Honeysweet made it simple. Bryan from Classic Rentals

Erick understood that the most important thing was the proper display of the art. Letterpress printing has subtle dimensionality that is both tactile and pleasing to the eye. Its physicality and depth is the thing that sets it apart from other forms of printing. Once framed, it needs to be properly lit in order to take advantage of these qualities. We also wanted to have the party at Aardvark so that guests could have a firsthand look at the process of letterpress as both art and performance.

From the very start Erick saw clearly how all of this could be accomplished. Our space isn’t large and we needed to be able to accommodate at least 600 people. To that end, he planned an outdoor tent beside Aardvark in which to premiere our first 18 Loteria Cards. The genius of his idea was that the art could be viewed from both inside and outside of our shop and made it feel as though the business had doubled its square footage.

The specialty fabric of the tent wall and the elegant lighting inside and out made the framed prints come alive and made our vintage printing presses even more glamorous. His plan also maximized the people-flow.

Guests could enter the business, walk through the length of it, out the back door into the tent to view the art, arriving back at the beginning beside Aardvark’s entrance. The flow could go in either direction.

Cary Ocon and Joan Marshall

No one in Los Angeles knows how to create and plan for both art and performance like Erick and his crew. Honeysweet Productions and Erick Weiss’ years of experience, remarkable staff and flexibility maximized every aspect of our intention.

All photos: Lisa Jane Persky

Friday, June 13, 2008

Loteria in the Los Angeles Times


Aardvark Letterpress marks its 40th year with loteria-like fine art prints

by Liesl Bradner

Click Here

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Aardvark takes Letterpress to Haute New Places

It's been a great week at Aardvark Letterpress. The official launch of our Fine Art Editions Division was a big success and the party was for all of us what remarkable artist Ed Wexler ("El Jefe")called "one of the best nights of my adult life!" We stopped counting guests at 400 but people continued to come and view our one-night only street gallery at our location and to buy prints long into the night. Pictured above are some of the Loteria Series Artists during the calm before the storm, from lower left: Claudia Laub, Dan McCleary above in white button-down, Ed Wexler, Dave Lefner behind Ed, Rick von Dehl behind Dave, Daniel Gonzalez next to him, Master Pressman Bill Berkuta in far back, and on the right, Somsara Rielly and Andre Miripolsky. In the background, just beyond the window of the shop is the installation created for us by Erick Weiss and Co. of Honeysweet Productions, Inc. Thank you , Erick, Victoria, Greg, Francis, Ernesto for your extraordinary contributions to our Event. You can link to any of our artists from our links section. Thank you, artists, for coming early for the photo. More pix to come.

Sarah Shewey, Event Planner in Unique Role of Party-Goer

Our friend, super party planner, green event co-ordinator Sarah Shewey of Pink Cloud Events posted this about Aardvark Fine Art Editions Debut fete. (We wanted her to cut loose for once and not have to worry about permits and rentals, waitstaff, and lists, lists, lists of event-type things and just come to the party-not have to plan it.) We highly recommend her if you're looking for a swell human to set it all up for your next slab o' fun.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

KPCC's Adolfo Guzman-Lopez Visits Aardvark

The esteemed reporter files an on-scene report. It's a short history of Aardvark up to and including mention of the Los Angeles Loteria Series.


Thursday, May 22, 2008

Aardvark Letterpress Fine Art Editions goes "LIVE"!

We've been gathering all of the materials necessary to put together the website and we're up. . .and we're down--to the final two weeks of printing before the launch of our first large-scale fine art edition series: L.A. Loteria. Check it!: Aardvark Letterpress Fine Art Editions

Saturday, May 10, 2008

More Los Angeles Loteria

El Travestido
Rick von Dehl

El Tiroteo
Cristina Padron

El Rio
Angel Gonzales

El Norteno
Ernesto Yerena

Tokyo Pequeno
Mel Lim

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Look at some of our cards

Lizzie Garrett over at DESIGNwatcher has us posted.
Have a look. Thanks, Lizzie!
Also, here's a look at our Loteria Card TOKYO PEQUENO by Mel Lim after it's first two printing passes in yellow. Stay tuned...

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Claudia Laub works with Angel Gonzales on Separations

Angel completes his print "El Rio" and works with Claudia as her "chromist". In the world of printmaking, a chromist is an artist/craftsman who separates the work of art into colors or plates for the purposes of printing. Not all artists do their own separations. For Andre Miripolsky's piece, "Los Angeles" Rick von Dehl, our Art Director acted as chromist and produced the separations for the many plates.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Plate Check

Cary Ocon does a plate check with Janet at Peterson. In background L to R are George Bush and Dan McCleary.
George gave Dan a tour of the plating facility and spoke with him about the process as it applied to Dan's work.