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Meet Angee Lennard of Spudnik Press Cooperative in West Town

Today we’d like to introduce you to Angee Lennard.

Angee, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
Spudnik Press Cooperative began shortly after I graduated from SAIC. At that time, the city lacked an approachable, community-focused printmaking studio that was within the reach of young artists with limited income and little art world experience. So building the studio from the ground up was really done out of personal necessity; I needed a place to print and craved a supportive artistic community.

After almost two years of planning, I opened a makeshift printshop in my apartment. After another 18 months, the studio was gaining traction and we moved to a legitimate commercial space and applied for our 501(c)3 tax exempt status.

The next eight years I spent hustling to improve our equipment and develop classes and programs that support not just artists, but anyone who wants to be creative through print. We celebrated our 10th Anniversary in 2017. After a decade of building up our organization, about 250 artists and 800 students use our studio each year.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
It’s been quite a journey! We’ve been lucky to have consistent upward momentum with our members, students, and volunteers constantly helping us reach the next step. However, we’ve had plenty of challenges along the way. In 2013, we jumped on the opportunity to expand our studio, but it took a few years for our income to catch up to the added expense of running a larger organization. Plus, the city around us is always changing and we have to constantly adapt to what our artists and our community needs.

As a small organization, there is little bureaucracy to deal with. However, there is also little precedent for how to handle a situations or opportunities. This puts a lot of responsibility on our staff and we spend a lot of time talking through decisions as a team.

As a non-profit, we are always struggling to have the resources we need to deliver the programs we know our community needs. We have to be creative, strategic, and constantly problem solving. We have to be watching out for the betterment of our whole community while also honoring that each person that comes through our doors has a unique story and is looking to Spudnik for different reasons. Running Spudnik Press Cooperative is really demanding work, but it’s also endlessly rewarding, especially when you see the artists using the studio making great artwork and succeeding on their own terms.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with Spudnik Press Cooperative – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
Spudnik Press Cooperative is a community-based art center located in a warehouse-turned-arts hub in West Town, Chicago. Our studio houses professional facilities and rare equipment for a wide variety of traditional fine art print processes including screenprinting, letterpress, relief, intaglio, risography, and derivative processes such as book arts, monoprinting, and more.

We are committed to not only collecting necessary equipment, but also maintaining a studio that is inviting and utilized by as many people as possible. Without a communal space with well-maintained equipment, trained staff and approachable programs, printmaking is out of reach for most. We are one of the few places in the city that is focused on non-digital printing and that invites both first-time printmakers and experts to experiment with printmaking in the same space.

Open Studio sessions are central to what we do. For a nominal fee, anyone authorized to use our equipment can drop in and print. An artist is on hand to help out and make sure the shop runs smoothly. We offer these sessions four times every single week to make sure everyone who wants to print has access to the studio.

What’s your favorite memory from childhood?
A favorite memory from childhood is learning to oil paint with my grandma at her kitchen table. She was a self-taught hobbyist who painted purely for the joy of it. While she never dreamed of art as a career, she helped lay the foundation for my career in the arts and my dedication to anyone who wants to be creative, regardless of their day job or status as a professional artist.

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Image Credit:

Jamie Davis

Getting in touch: VoyageChicago is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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