Stephanie Newman: Letterpress extraordinaire

Stephanie Newman has been teaching letterpress, the art of “printing from from a hard, raised image under pressure, using viscous ink,” at MSU for 32 years, however it was not offered as a class for 25 of those years. Before letterpress was offered as a class at MSU, Newman provided the opportunity for students to take letterpress as an independent study class. She enjoys letterpress and wants to pass it down, so much so that until recently, Newman opened Haynes Hall to former students so they could continue creating on two conditions: they had to clean up after themselves and they had to give her one copy of whatever they printed. “I love to see the equipment being used and having people be creative with it,” she said.

Newman is retiring from MSU after this year, but will continue to bring letterpress to the people in a different way, with Quoin. A quoin is a “small metal device used for locking up type or image in the bed of a press or in the chase of a press,” Quoin is also the name of a new community letterpress studio located on 5360 Love Lane, a part of Blunderbuss, a creative workspace in Bozeman. Quoin is Newman’s response to a need she saw in Bozeman for a printing space outside of MSU’s College of Art and Architecture. Individuals can learn how to print, rent time on the presses and use the materials available in the studio. Many people aren’t willing to invest in printing presses as they are expensive, hard to store, often shipped from great distances and take up a great amount of room. To Newman, a community letterpress seemed like a no-brainer. “It’s something that I really love and if I passed it along to people and they love it too, I want them to be able to continue to do it,” she said.

In the course of her teaching career at MSU, there have been several people who invested in their own presses, something Newman considers an accomplishment. Not only did Newman have a big impact on her students through letterpress, she also was instrumental in bringing the College of Art and Architecture into the modern era. Newman introduced the internet to the College of Art at MSU. At one point in her teaching career, her students were collaborating with a college writing class at Howard University in Washington, D.C. They would storm the engineering building to use the internet, because the art building only had a 50 foot phone cord connected to a modem. Newman went to the Head of ITC to suggest a web design class after that collaborative experience. The art building was connected to the internet the very next day.

Although her time teaching at MSU is coming to a close, her community letterpress studio, Quoin is open for business.