The Printed Walk is a letterpress printed chronicle of a 2017 thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail. While immersing myself in nature for this 2,200-mile trek, I will use my inspiration from remarkable trail moments to design a series of prints, one for every 100 miles I hike.
Since 1937, hikers have taken on the challenge of thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail, recording their accounts through photographs, travelogues, and novels. However, few artists have embarked on this journey and created visual interpretations of the experience and scenery of this iconic backcountry.
What is the goal for the prints?
My goal for The Printed Walk is to capture the power of surreal moments felt when immersed in nature. In particular, my intent is to increase others’ appreciation and understanding of nature’s power and its ability to create seemingly magical experiences. The print series will embellish the importance of our natural world, illustrating how being immersed in nature can positively affect our thoughts and well-being.
Capturing the magical moments of nature
I will illustrate the whimsical trail moments with magical realism, a narrative strategy characterized by the blend of mythical elements in the rational world. These enchanted elements will appear in the prints through abstracted and exaggerated landscapes and the use of unexpected color derived from often-overlooked details along the trail.
The world I see is a very colorful place. When other people see gray tree bark, I'm seeing hues of purple, gold, blue and green. I credit my chromatic visuals to my color-grapheme synesthesia, a neurological phenomenon where letters and numbers are inherently perceived as colored. I want to use my heightened sense of color in my trail observations to highlight the often-unseen details along the path. The vibrant result will enhance the concept of magical realism, creating something similar to a Dr. Seussian depiction of the iconic trail.
Each printed illustration will be paired with a poetic verse written in my journal while hiking the trail, describing the surreal moment in nature as experienced on the journey. These written verses will include literary devices such as metaphors, similes, and personification to manifest the seemingly magical encounter in nature.
What is letterpress and why use this medium?
Handset letterpress printing is a relief printing process where antique metal or wood type is inked and pressed into paper, creating an impression of the type form. It is the oldest standardized printing process dating back to the 1440s, and was created to make literature accessible and affordable for the everyday user.
Following this same concept of the printed edition, using letterpress for these 22 trail prints allows me to create fine art that is affordable for my backers and accessible to the world. While the idea of a printed edition may cause skepticism in some fine art buyers, understand that by printing with type that has been passed down for generations of printers, the nicks, scratches, printing imperfections and hands-on process allow for minor discrepancies among the prints in the editions, making each one unique.
Letterpress, in particular, also offers the opportunity to print directly from the trail artifacts, capturing the sense of touch. Just about anything that is the height of antique type (known as "type high" or .918") can be printed on the old presses designed for letterpress printing. I will be collecting printable textures, such as fallen bark and sticks while hiking, to ship home, adjust to type high and include in the prints.
I'm Lindsay Schmittle, the designer, printer and founder of Gingerly Press, a design studio dedicated to creating tastefully modern paper products through the old-time art of handset letterpress printing. I bring to this project 5 years of experience in letterpress printing and 7 years of design experience with a degree in Visual Communication.
Much of the inspiration for my prints comes from nature, since I'm a regular hiker. I love the simplicity and mindfulness that come with backpacking; they open up space in the mind and soul for creativity to grow. My outdoor experience includes hiking all over the country. Recently to prepare myself for this Appalachian Trail challenge, I completed Vermont's Long Trail, a 270-mile trail running the length of Vermont that includes 100 miles of the Appalachian Trail and crosses Vermont's highest peaks.
For the last three years, I've had my heart set on hiking the entirety of the Appalachian Trail, the longest hiking-only footpath in the world, spanning from Georgia to Maine. However, I was torn between my desire for the five-month journey and leaving Gingerly Press behind to collect cobwebs. Knowing that missing my business would drive me off the trail, I've found a way to integrate my love of letterpress design into this lengthy journey through this print project that would allow me to share my excursion experience and the trail's rugged beauty with a broader audience.
How does this Kickstarter help?
While I already own nearly all the necessary gear for hiking, this project requires support for raw materials to produce the printed collection and daily sustenance on the trail.
Of the raw materials, paper is the biggest cost. I will be using paper stocks from French Paper Company's Speckletone line, as the 100% recycled stock seems fitting for a project about the woods. French's Michigan-based paper mill not only produces high-quality recycled paper, but it is also a hydroelectric mill.
Food for the hike is the biggest trail expense, especially since my metabolism will hit the roof from hiking 15+ miles per day for 5 months in a row. My food consumption will nearly double that of an average adult.
The pie chart below simplifies a detailed budget plan for the hike and project production. While the budget covers trail sustenance and raw materials for the project, it covers very little of my own time needed to design and produce the project. Any additional funds raised past my project goal will be used to pay for my time dedicated to bringing this printed collection to life to share with the world.
To thank you for your support: REWARDS!
Notebooks: To give a visual example of how the printed series will be designed, I created the notebook rewards with covers illustrating surreal moments I experienced and recorded while on previous excursions in the wilderness. The poetic verses matching the cover illustrations are printed on the interior covers of the notebooks.
Notebook orders will ship by February 2017.
The Mini Jotter Notebook:
The mini jotter notebook was designed to be the real pocket journal for quick thoughts that can't wait to be recorded. It measures at 3 ¾" x 2 ½". The cover is 100% recycled, 80lb. cover, French Speckletone Old Green®. The 32 interior pages are 100% recycled, 70lb. text, French Speckletone Madero Beach® with an offset-printed 1 pica (⅙") grid. The jotter's cover design is based off a wild moment while hiking the Long Trail in summer 2015, with the journal entry: "After the rain, the trail was covered in newts, as if they fell from the sky."
The Small Notebook:
The small notebook is the Goldilocks of the notebooks, small enough for a purse or larger pocket, yet large enough for writing and sketching on the go. It measures at 3¾" x 5¼". The covers are 100% recycled, 80lb. cover, French Speckletone Old Green®. The 32 interior pages are 100% recycled, 70lb text, French Speckletone Madero Beach® with an offset-printed 1 pica (⅙") grid. The small notebook's cover design is based on a surreal moment while headlamp hiking at 4am above tree line among the stars on the way to the Longs Peak summit in Colorado in summer 2016 with my father and brother.
The Large Notebook:
The large notebook is for those who need a bit more space to get out their thoughts or sketches. It measures at 5⅜" x 8". The covers are 100% recycled, 80lb. cover, French Speckletone Old Green®. The 52 interior pages are 100% recycled, 70lb. text, French Speckletone Madero Beach® with an offset-printed 1 pica (⅙") grid. The cover design for the large notebook is based on the magical moments while ridge walking above the clouds on Vermont's highest peaks during my 2015 thru-hike of The Long Trail.
The 22 prints in the series will be 14" x 18" printed on 100% recycled, 140lb. Speckletone Starch White® French Paper Company stock. Each print will represent a 100-mile section of the trail. The front will illustrate a specific surreal moment experienced within this 100-mile section, matching with a written verse from my trail journal printed on the back.
Also included on the back of the prints, will be the statistics box and elevation profile for that trail section. The statistics box denotes the days, states and daily mileages for that portion of the hike as well as the materials used in that print's illustration. The elevation profiles were designed so that one could flip over and line up all 22 prints to see the entire elevation map of the Appalachian Trail.
Each of the 22 designs will be printed in a limited edition of 50 prints after the trail excursion, unless if demand increases from higher funding. The finalized designs will be posted and the print backers may request which designs they want for their print bundle reward, on a first come, first serve basis.
Print reward bundles are available by single prints, a group of 3, group of 5 and the complete series of 22 prints.
Prints will ship December 2017.
22 Prints & Clamshell Box:
The full series of 22 prints and the clamshell box is the ultimate reward. The handmade clamshell box measures at 15" x 19" x 1½" and houses the stack of 22 prints. The clamshell transforms the print series into a fine press book form, allowing the viewer to flip through the series of prints and connect the front illustration to the back journal entry and stats. This reward will also come with a printed title page to accompany the stack of 22 prints. The clamshell has The Printed Walk logo printed in dark charcoal ink on 100% recycled, 80 lb. cover French Speckletone Old Green® on the front with matching book cloth for spine support. The box sides are covered in a mustard yellow book cloth for a pop of color.
Clamshell & Prints will ship December 2017.
4-Person Print Workshops:
The workshops are designed for the backer who doesn't want to collect things, but would rather collect experiences. The single $275 reward covers 4 tickets to a 4-hour workshop at the Gingerly Press studio with complimentary wine for the evening. The workshop participants will walk away with a printed set of personalized stationery and new knowledge of basic printing history, typesetting and printing. Workshops will be scheduled based on the availability of the participants and the Gingerly Press studio.
This is a limited reward, with only 8 workshops available.
Sincere thanks goes to a group of friends and family who dedicated their time & knowledge to help make this project possible. Without this supportive community, the project probably never would have gotten off the ground. It takes a village!
Thanks to Dan Punshon-Smith and Adam Hahn for the production of the project film and for being a joy to work with over long filming days. Thanks to Ray Nichols and Jill Cypher of LeadGraffiti for sharing their clamshell binding knowledge and dedicating a full weekend to the bookbinding intensive workshop. Thanks to my Aunt Darcy for being my trusty accountant and working out the project budget with me through many late night phone meetings. Thanks to my mom, Lori Schmittle, and good friend, Jen Farrell, for proofreading the writing for the project page. Thanks to Tyler Moses for seamlessly photoshopping the design for the reverse of the prints onto my photo. Thanks to Eric Woods for dedicating his lunch break to a phone conversation with me, sharing his knowledge of printing from found objects. Thanks to my dad, Mark Schmittle, and friends, Krista Adams and Rachel Pearlman, for readily offering design critiques for various project elements. Thanks to my siblings and parents for never telling me this project was a dumb idea. =)
Risks and challenges
The largest potential risk to the project would be an unexpected medical emergency while hiking the trail. While it is common for thru-hikers to experience medical emergencies, it is rare for one to take a prepared hiker completely off the journey altogether. I have taken multiple preventative steps to prepare for the trip and avoid medical emergencies, including regular conditioning hikes with a weighted pack, a successful "test-run" thru-hike of Vermont's Long Trail (272 miles), completed readings of multiple books about hiking the trail, including one specifically about precautions for female hikers, and finally a designated emergency fund to finance any medical care needed in order to get me back out on the trail and continue my hike north.
Any further challenge, beyond the trail itself, would be the timely completion of the printed series after the trail's end. In order to stay on track with the prints, I have blocked off the autumn of 2017 to produce two prints per week based on the designs already created while on the trail. The notebooks and clamshells will be completed before the journey in order to reserve the months post-trail solely for the focused production of the 22 prints.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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