About me...

Jessica in studio

I grew up in Taiwan where I learned to love storybooks and traditional crafts, and I'm now a studio artist and educator in Asheville, NC, where I make prints, books, and crankies. I am the Professor of Printmaking at Warren Wilson College where I also teach drawing, book arts, and paper making.

My work has been exhibited internationally and can be seen in public collections including Yale University, Stanford University, Lingnan University Hong Kong, and the Art Institute of Chicago. My publications include Letterpress Now: A DIY Guide to New & Old Printing Methods, published by Lark Crafts, and Ladies of Letterpress: A Gallery of Prints with 80 Removable Posters, published by Princeton Architectural Press. I am the co-founder of Ladies of Letterpress, an international trade organization of women printers, a member of the Southern Highlands Craft Guild and currently the President of the Wood Engravers’ Network.

Fancy degrees I hold include a BFA in sculpture from East Carolina University, an MA and MFA in Printmaking from the University of Iowa, half of a pilot’s license and half of a sailing certificate. Feel free to contact me about prints or books, but no requests please for flying or sailing the high seas.

my CV


Some frequently asked questions:

Where did you learn how to make prints and book art?

I studied sculpture, primarily metal work and iron casting, as an undergraduate student at East Carolina University where I also learned to repair books while working at the university’s Joyner Library. After graduating from ECU in 2000, I worked for three years as a conservator of works on paper at the Northeast Document Conservation Center in Massachusetts. During this time I set up a studio and took workshops where I learned the basics of book art and printmaking. From there, I moved to Iowa City where I earned an MA and MFA in Printmaking in 2008 and a certificate in Book Studies in 2009 at the University of Iowa. 


How do you make these prints?

Each of my prints are hand pulled from letterpress printing presses. My studio

is equipped with a Challenge 15MP (Sweet Pea), Chandler & Price 10x15 (Ernestine), a Showcard Press, and a Kelsey 5x8. I also have a small etching press for intaglio prints. 

Each print starts from a drawing, which will then be made into a photopolymer plate or cut as a wood block or engraving (many prints actually include elements of one, two, or all three of these). The text is printed from photopolymer plates or from handset metal type. Check out my Media page for videos of how this is done.



Do you teach classes or workshops?

I currently teach at Warren Wilson College in Swannanoa, NC as the Professor of Printmaking. My courses include printmaking, letterpress, drawing, and First Year Seminar. Previous to teaching full time, I taught paper making and book arts at WWC, printmaking at Western Carolina University in Cullowhee, NC, and books and printing workshops at Asheville Bookworks. I continue to teach occasional workshops at John C. Campbell Folk School, along with occasional other arts and crafts schools (check my Calendar for updates). 


Where can I see your work in person?

In the Asheville area, you can purchase original work at Blue Spiral 1 Gallery and digital prints and ephemera at Horse + Hero, an indie crafts boutique in downtown Asheville.

Other places include:
Emerge Gallery (Greenville, NC)
River Gallery (Chattanooga, TN)
Minnesota Center for Book Arts (Minneapolis, MN)

To see more of my artist books, please visit Vamp & Tramp Booksellers (Birmingham, AL) or check out my work in these public collections:

  • Brigham Young University
  • Lafayette College
  • Lingnan University, Hong Kong
  • The School of the Art Institute of Chicago
  • Scripps College
  • Stanford University
  • Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library
  • University of California, Los Angeles
  • University of California, Santa Barbara
  • University of Iowa
  • University of Wisconsin, Madison
  • Yale University

You can also check my Calendar for any current exhibits or upcoming craft fairs where you can visit me in person!


Where are you located, and can I come visit your studio?

I recently moved Ernestine (the C&P) to a sunny corner at Citizen Vinyl in downtown Asheville, NC, where you can find me most Fridays and some weekends. I also have a studio at my home near the Blue Ridge Parkway where I can spend more time with my family and keep an eye on the neighborhood bear.

What is letterpress printing?

Letterpress printing is a type of relief printing that uses type, or letters cast from metal or carved from wood, and presses made specifically for printing type. It originated in China with the development of movable type around 1040 AD, when entire pages of text carved out of one wooden block was replaced with carved characters that could be rearranged independently. Movable type was then further developed by the Koreans who created a system of casting the type in metal alloys and printing from them using oil based inks.

When Johannes Gutenberg introduced letterpress printing and movable type to the west in the 1450s, it made an enormous impact and changed the way western civilization regarded printed information and literacy. Though there was some early resistance to this new method of recreating textual information, it was soon embraced and Gutenberg’s methods of casting type and printing from them spread like wildfire across Europe. These methods remained essentially unchanged outside of minor improvements for the next 500 years.

Today, letterpress printing is no longer the primary method for all things printed: newspapers, books, packaging, tickets, etc. However, it has been embraced by artists, hobbyists, craftsmen, ad a sprinkling of commercial printers who refuse to let this extraordinary craft go. The processes involved in setting type, preparing and printing on a press, and finishing the printed sheets involve a tactile quality that courses through our fingers. The finished product also has a physical quality unlike any other form of printing. Combined, these unique characteristics of letterpress printing are bringing about its current revival, and it continues to grow and change as a living craft.

If you’re interested in learning more about letterpress printing, check out my book Letterpress Now: A DIY Guide to New & Old Printing Methods, or consider signing up for one of my workshops


Can I hire you to print my wedding invitations?

Yes, please check my price list at Over Yonder Press.


I have an idea for a book. Do you want to work on it with me?

Well, maybe. I stay pretty busy with my own book and print projects, but I'm always interested in new book projects. Contact me and we'll talk.


Who are the Ladies of Letterpress? 

The Ladies of Letterpress is an international trade organization for letterpress printers and printing enthusiasts founded in 2007 by me and Kseniya Thomas. Our mission is to promote the art and craft of letterpress printing and to encourage the voice and vision of women printers. We strive to maintain the cultural legacy of fine press printing and to advance letterpress as a living, contemporary art form as well as a viable commercial printing method. Membership is open both men and women who print or have an interest in letterpress printing. Join or find out more at www.ladiesofletterpress.com.


Here are a few things said and articles that have been written about me and my work:

"There was both a somber honesty and an unsullied optimism that damn near brought me to tears."

"It's the good dream you want to remember."

"It's what you'd get if Beatrix Potter crashed into Edward Gorey."

"You works reflects a highly refined sense of absurdity."

"I'm not usually a profound person, but I look at your work and think 'that's profound'."

"This reminds me of Charlie Brown."

Printeresting: Letterpress Now

Felt & Wire: Behind the Book: The Making of Letterpress Now

Poppytalk: Giveaway - Letterpress Now

CNN.com: Ripple Project for 9/11: 10 Years Later (the last image under "The Day")

Asheville Citizen-Times: The Artistic Type

Mountain Xpress: Read the Storyline at Blue Spiral 1

Verve Magazine: One for the Books

Review: Moral Code

Panel Patter reviews: Art School Chronicles

Big Little Books


Do you have any more questions that I haven't answered? Feel free to contact me!