Creating Access to Printmaking
“Once I graduated, there wasn’t any access to the tools and equipment that are required to do [printmaking],” Nathaniel Benjamin recalls of what spurred him to start Laika Press. “So we got together to start a community press and make all of those resources publicly available to everybody so that not only can we practice ourselves, but also get other people involved in this thing that we love so much.”
Laika Press offers services in screen-printing, an art form commonly associated with t-shirts but also used to create print products themselves. Laika Press has two traditional-style printing presses that can produce work using a wide range of techniques from copper-plate illustrations, etchings, woodcut, relief printing, and lithographs to name a few. The presses provide members of the community an opportunity for a hands-on experience in the work that they create.
From the Community and for the Community
Much of Laika Press’s equipment has come as community donations. Consequently, Benjamin feels that Laika Press already has a strong connection with the Reno community that enables him to give back through its services.
“The intention all along was to have [Laika Press] be a resource center for people to do this specific type of art practice which isn’t accessible to everybody,” Benjamin said. “We wanted to make [printmaking] available because not everyone can afford to go to UNR or purchase this kind of equipment. We were in that subset of people that were able to get educated in this and we wanted to disseminate that information to the community.”
Benjamin values the role art plays in a community. But in Reno, he says, it’s a role that is becoming more complex.
“We’re in a really unique place because there is a lot of emphasis put on the arts in Reno,” Benjamin said. “But we also have a lot of tech companies coming in and changing the social dynamics of the city. There’s this interaction between these tech companies with big money and the art community which doesn’t have a lot of funding. The presence of those companies kind of changes the landscape here.”
Reporting and Photography by Scott King for Our Town Reno