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Hanna King Book and Paper Ambassador

Hannah King

Tell us a little bit about what you were doing before you came to Columbia.

My original plan as I headed off to college was to get my degree in design arts and be a graphic designer. When I got to school this plan first failed when I was introduced to black and white photography and then really and permanently failed as soon as I discovered book and paper arts.

I was very fortunate to have found myself in an undergraduate program that had a book and paper arts concentration. From the fall of my freshman year on, I was hooked on papermaking, letterpress printing, and bookbinding. I was so thrilled to have found a series of mediums that I loved so much and that worked so well together. I discovered that I could work with so many different ideas and media. I could use photography, textiles, and design in combination with the letterpress, on my paper, in my books. Those first years of classes were so exciting. All throughout college I enthusiastically pursued many opportunities from internships to workshops, from North Carolina to upstate New York, learning and building and figuring out more and more certainly that I had found the thing that I knew I would be really passionate about forever.

And after that I came to Columbia College Chicago for graduate school–which has been great!

Why did you choose Columbia for your graduate study?

Because book and paper arts are a craft bound to tradition and technique, I really wanted to make sure that I was entering a graduate program that would both respect that tradition and be open minded enough to allow for contemporary interpretation. The fact that the program at Columbia was part of the Interdisciplinary Arts department was the first sign that I would find exactly what I wanted. The faculty in the book and paper arts department are knowledgeable, skilled, and active in their fields. They are great resources and huge supporters of student work and open to most any direction your work will take you. I feel constantly challenged at Columbia. I feel challenged to push my work in new directions and to not depend on the skills I already have in my pocket, but to continuously learn and grow. It’s not easy sometimes, but it’s one of the main reasons why I chose Columbia and why I am so happy now that I did.

In addition to all that, they have an excellent professional practices curriculum that I didn’t see or hear talked about at any other school I looked at. I think seeing that made me feel that the book and paper program was intent upon releasing competent, confident, professionally skilled artists out into the world.

Tell us about a project you’re working on that you’re excited about.

Most recently I spent two weeks working with poet Kyle Schlesinger on his project, “Bumpers”, and book Commonplace. Kyle was chosen as one of two artists to be Summer Artists in Residence at the Columbia College Chicago Center for Book and Paper Arts. I got to be his assistant.

His project Bumpers was a collection of 13 different bumper stickers. Each sticker had text that was written by either an artist or a writer and imagery/design by Kyle. We made an edition of three hundred! I had never done that much letterpress printing before in my life. It was so fun and such a great learning experience.

As big as the Bumpers project was we somehow finished it in one week and had time to start work on another project. This book Commonplace was a collection of poems that were ready to go. The poems were three lines long each and there were a lot of them. So, Kyle and I collaborated and came up with a structure that would make them easy to read but also challenge a traditional reading pattern, allowing for different readings by different viewers. That structure was a fourteen foot long accordion book. Though we didn’t get all of them bound before his time in Chicago was up, the almost-finished product promises to be an excellent completed project.

It was great to work with someone who had a writing background and printing at the pace we were gave me a chance to develop, as a printer, like I had never been pushed to before.