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Vendor Spotlight: George Wietor

This dispatch was added by one of our Nonprofit Neighbors. It does not represent the editorial voice of The Rapidian or Community Media Center.

Issue Press creates handprinted artist publications with clean, minimalist designs offering a collection of carefully curated artists. He talks about running an independent publishing house, favorite spots in Grand Rapids and what documentary you should be watching.

The Market on First Fridays

August 1, 2014

From 5:00 p.m.- 9:00 p.m.

Located on South Division

At The Market on First Fridays in June, I could have stayed at the Issue Press booth for hours flipping through the multitude of handprinted artist books. The cover graphics were clean and minimalist and the collection of artists were carefully curated. Books featuring familiar, local printmakers, Todd Freeman and Amanda Weiczorek caught my eye in addition to intriguing work by some unfamiliar names. I was able to speak with the founder, publisher and sole proprietor of Issue Press, George Wietor, about his small independent publishing house. 

Wietor explained that he began this type of printing as a board member of the Division Avenue Arts Collective.

“I had to make posters all the time but I am too lazy to regularly screen print and have never been that much of a fan of digital color prints. When I was introduced to the risograph - essentially a crazy copy machine that produces multicolor prints with multiple single color passes - I was hooked," says Wietor. "It produces prints that have a very similar quality to screen printing but can be very quickly produced once you have done the proper setup.” Issue Press began with a single risograph machine that Wietor found on Craigslist and stored at the foot of his bed. Over the years, Wietor eventually moved into a studio space and spends the majority of his free time collecting and restoring old printing and binding machines.

“Fixing something is a great way to learn how it works and I have found that I am really attracted to the mechanical elements of printing and bindery work,” he says.

Despite the growing community of people interested in artist books, there are not a lot of blogs and publications dedicated to talking about them. Wietor markets his publications by traveling to book fairs and zine fests speaking directly to people and stores about the books.

“It’s really great to talk to people directly about my work, and it’s been really rewarding to travel and meet new people who also love artist-made books. I have met a bunch of people that I now consider pretty good friends just from being in the same room every couple of months for a few years in a row now," he says. "There is a real community of independent book makers out there, and it has been a really enriching experience to participate in it.”

Visit the Issue Press website to browse the collection of artist publications and make sure to see Issue Press in person at The Market on First Fridays on August 1st. 

More about Wietor:

What band/musician/album are you really into right now? 

Besides podcasts, the new Sharon Van Etten and Radiator Hospital albums are on pretty heavy rotation in the studio right now. World of Echo by Arthur Russell has a permanent place in the mix as well. 

What is your favorite restaurant or business in Grand Rapids?

My favorite restaurants in Grand Rapids are Bartertown, Pho Soc Trang, Tacqueria San Jose, and Marie Catrib’s. My favorite businesses are Have Company (the primary purveyors of Issue Press publications in Grand Rapids) and Vertigo Music.

What movie/documentary do you recommend?

There is this really interesting documentary on Netflix called Resurrect Dead about the Toynbee Tiles that have been placed in roads primarily around Philadelphia but also all across the world. I recommend watching that and then going to check out the Toynbee copycat tile in the crosswalk on Ottawa outside of Madcap Coffee. 


As we count down to The Market on First Fridays in August, look out for a new article every Wednesday! Learn about a participating vendor each week in July in the Vendor Spotlight Series. If you missed it, check out previous featured vendors, Dan and Tiffany GarbowitzTaylor Bultema, and Rose Beerhorst!

The Avenue for the Arts is a neighborhood title for the South Division commercial corridor. We are residential, commercial and nonprofit groups working together in a creative community. We are residents in Heartside, and active participants in shaping change in our neighborhood. In 2005, we choose the Avenue for the Arts as a title to represent our commercial corridor and the projects and events that we create. Because the Avenue is powered by volunteers guest writers create our Rapidian content. Special thanks to Leah Burke, Avenue member and writer for her coverage of "The Market on First Fridays."  

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