Not every artist can pinpoint the experience that inspired their life’s work. But Rebecca Chamlee can: it was during her time as a student at Otis College of Art and Design. “That’s where I discovered letterpress, and it changed everything,” she says. “I was in a class and they taught us how to hand set our names, and then we put it into a big press and printed it. The fact that we were making something real, just like that—it was transformative for me.” That resonance was amplified when Rebecca paired her newfound passion with book arts. She learned how to print, how to edition, and how to bind, and, with a focus on her love of the natural world and her native Southern California landscape, she’s been exploring and pushing the creative boundaries of letterpress and bookbinding ever since.
“Making these books, they fulfill a lot of requirements for me, because I like to express myself, I write, I make images, and I love to print and bind. So all of these passions and abilities can converge in one place. To be challenged and fulfilled by ones work, it’s enormous.” It’s a satisfaction she’s compelled to share. After graduating, Rebecca took her ardor for the craft to the other side of the press—she’s been teaching at Otis College, almost consecutively, since 1985. “What I want to offer students more than anything is a way to get away from the screens and make something with your hands and your own ideas. That is where this work comes from and you make it directly.”
Chamlee is a book artist, printer, writer, and bookbinder who has innovatively designed, letterpress-printed, hand-bound, limited edition fine-press and artist's books under the imprint of Pie In The Sky Press since 1986.
Feeling inspired? Otis College Extension offers many printmaking courses from Introduction to Letterpress to Digital Silkscreen. Did you know that the Otis Laboratory Press is a fully functioning letterpress studio with four Vandercook proof presses and over 200 fonts!
Photo by Meiko Arquillos / Art Direction by Sheharazad Fleming