Eric Woods of Firecracker Press Chats About The Shop's Origins
Fresh out of college, with an education in graphic design, Eric Woods quickly learned that his love of design and desire to make things extended beyond the design industry as he knew it. In 2002, Woods quit his job, bought a printing press and started putting ink to paper the (very) old-fashioned way.
Experience from printmaking courses in college combined with some trial and error on the press led to Woods’ first few jobs printing wedding invitations. Fast-forward 12 years, and The Firecracker Press has evolved into a two-location letterpress print shop and graphic design studio.
Working with companies like Kakao Chocolate, Kaldi’s Coffee, Schlafly Beer, Urban Chestnut Brewing Company and even The Gateway Arch, The Firecracker Press has amassed quite the list of local clients. “St. Louis does a great job of supporting us. It’s great the city we love so much can support what we do,” says Woods. And on the other side of the state, Hallmark hatched plans for a collaboration with the print shop on a line of greeting cards due out in 2016.
The letterpress process works across a variety of platforms. A conversation-turned-concept moves to a sketch; the drawing is put into a digital format for approvals, then moves back to analog. The type is set, wood blocks are carved to create imagery and the printing is done by hand on the presses.
Woods jokes about the shop’s museum-like nature when it comes to those presses. The collection, which spans a century–1870 to 1970–features machines in various working and restoration conditions. “The goal is to use it. It works best when it’s working,” says Woods of his intention to keep all his letterpresses operating.
Woods’ latest endeavor, Central Print, is a nonprofit organization offering classes for kids and adults. For even more education, the Old North Firecracker Press location holds open office hours for novice printers. Find products at either Firecracker Press location–2838 Cherokee St. and 2612 N. 14th St.– or at firecrackerpress.com.