Profile: Amos Paul Kennedy Jr. (1948-)

Amos Paul Kennedy Jr. is an American printer, book artist and papermaker best known for social and political commentary, particularly in printed posters.

Biography

From an early age, Kennedy was interested in letters and books and studied calligraphy for several years. At the age of 40, Kennedy visited Colonial Williamsburg, a Virginia living history museum, and was mesmerized by an 18th-century print shop and book bindery demonstration. The incident so influenced that he studied printing at a community-based letterpress shop in Chicago and, within a year quit his AT&T systems analyst job, which he had held for nearly two decades, to continue printmaking studies.

Kennedy articulated his fascination with letterpress printing in one interview: “… I believe it was the capability of making multiples. Multiples of text are important to me. They allow for distribution.”

He attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison, studied under legendary book designer Walter Hamady, and earned an MFA in 1997. He later taught graphic design at the Henry Radford Hope School of Fine Arts at Indiana University.

Technique

Kennedy creates prints, posters and postcards from handset wood and metal type, oil-based inks, and eco-friendly and affordable chipboard. Many of the posters are inspired by proverbs, sayings, and quotes Kennedy locates or potential clients provide.

Using hand presses, he “produces large editions of wildly colourful, typographically-driven posters on inexpensive chipboard stock, posters which are often so riotously layered with vibrant colours of ink as to retain a wet iridescence and tackiness years after they were printed. His working method often involves overprinting multiple layers of text …resulting in no two prints being truly identical.

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