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By Abby Anderson Jones

Designers use type every day. Usually with the help of a computer. However, at some Minneapolis design studios, they are keeping things old school with the help of letterpress machines and by hand setting both vintage metal and wood type.

Before the Solopreneurs convened for our monthly happy hour, we held a studio tour and meet up with Fontlove Studio to talk about how proprietor Elana Schwartzman’s passion turned into a business. Everyone who attended the tour enjoyed a relaxed evening of time travel to an era of hands-on design.

Fontlove Studio, located in Uptown Minneapolis, is the home of a 100-year-old Chandler & Price Old Style platen press and two flatbed proof presses. Founder Elana shared her company’s background, talking about the various places the letterpress shop evolved from — mostly the basement or corners of her studio — before moving into the beautiful space she occupies today.

After hearing stories of Elana’s hunt for type characters and learning about the basic supplies she needs every day, we were reminded that to make a living from your craft as a solopreneur it takes passion and self-motivation.

Another great takeaway: the idea of educating your client about what the process of this work entails. Having a client understand your methods and constraints, such as only having certain typefaces on hand, helps so much in the name of transparency and managing expectations.

Viewing finished work and the works in progress around the studio gave all of us a greater appreciation for Elana’s design process. From organizing your physical ‘font book’ and using tweezers to set your 6 point type to spacing everything out with actual leading and learning to read backwards, it was easy to see that Fontlove Studio is a labor of love.

Photos by Abby Anderson Jones and Heather Olson

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Jhoselin Dominguez
Associate Director, Communications