Accomplished painter and printmaker Kim Ransdell inspired our Bike Month billboard outside the Bloomingfoods Near West Side store, and has shown her work in the BloomingArts Series and other popular local venues. Kim has a letterpress printshop, The Collective Press, where inspirational messages come to life on paper against the most beautiful colored backgrounds.
A Bloomington resident since 1997, Kim worked in our East and Kirkwood stores from 2000-2002, and many of us are still wearing the 25th Anniversary t-shirts Kim designed. Kim recently shared some of her thoughts and motivations with me. Learn more about Kim’s work at her website, TheCollectivePress.com.
Typesetting is something of a lost art. Is the process easily understood?
Generally not, but there is a revival happening right now. Oddly enough, the interest has been growing in the last decade—I believe it’s because most other technologies have gotten faster or more immediate—and there are no shortcuts in letterpress. There are only so many possible arrangements when you are working with physical pieces of type.
Who have been your artistic influences?
I’ve always appreciated the warm color palette of Swiss-born painter and graphic artist Paul Klee. Amos Paul Kennedy, Jr., currently in Gordo, Alabama, has been a huge influence on me since 1999. Formerly my graphic design professor at IU, our connection evolved into a mentorship. I am fortunate to be able to make several trips a year to continue working with him.
What emotions are you are trying to elicit in your work?
I like to convey messages that are uplifting, encouraging, and that better the environment around us. I try to see beauty in the ugly and the unfinished—things that might seem like mistakes at first glance. I believe that everything bad can be turned into something good. As a letterpress artist, you have to embrace the imperfections.
What inspires/motivates you to start a new piece?
I’ve been writing down quotes since high school. I am inspired by different philosophers, song lyrics, idioms, conversations...Most of the time at my studio I just print backgrounds without any concern for the final outcome. I layer colors on top of other colors until it feels right. When the inspiration comes, I print a message on whatever backgrounds I pull out that day. I try to have no expectations when I start for how things will turn out. The Collective Press means "to move forward together.” I believe that every day, we must do something to improve our environment and help those around us. It’s very motivating to me knowing my art has helped people through rough times.
Favorite show you have ever participated in?
My show in Bloomington’s City Hall atrium this May was a great experience. I had never before had an opportunity to show 80+ posters all at once so I ended up arranging them in a rainbow pattern from silver to blue through the rainbow, ending at brown. It gave a good visual representation of the color pallet to which I gravitate.
by Jean Kautt
Jean Kautt coordinates our BloomingArts series, helps groups make use of our SCRIP fundraising program, and is a member of the Bloomingfoods marketing and outreach team.