about ink and paper

by agnes s.

A short, bittersweet documentary profiles the last letterpress and paper company standing in downtown Los Angeles (or more appropriately Macarthur Park).

In the documentary directed by USC student Ben Proudfoot, Cary Ocon of Aardvark Letterpress and Gary Wolin of McManus & Morgan, Inc. talk about how their businesses manage to scrape by, despite the fact that they are clearly the products of a bygone, pre-digital era.

The work is clearly a labor of love for both of the shops, and they do manage to find well-to-do clients or visual artists (or musicians) who are willing to pay a premium for handcrafted work. On the day the film crew arrived, Ocon was working on a project for Bill Clinton’s birthday. The letterpress’ website lists Brooke Shields, Debra Messing, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and GQ Magazine as clients.

“I like taking these old technologies but going forward with them and using them in modern ways and integrating them with modern techniques,” Ocon says.

The bitter part of the documentary is that both shops are hanging on by a thread. Gary Wolin of McManus & Morgan says when business slows down and a job comes in: “It’s a miracle.”