Award-winning local design firm Moe Design has put its artistry, centuries-old printing technology and a lot of sweat equity to work fighting hunger in Washtenaw County. Its contribution: a hand-printed poster for a sold-out benefit concert on March 3 at The Ark in Ann Arbor that’s a true work of art.
Acoustic Routes Concerts of Saline, which is producing the concert for the Breakfast at St. Andrew’s soup kitchen in Ann Arbor, has worked with husband and wife team Chas and Karen Moeller for the last several years to create unique promotional posters. But the 2018 show, featuring 15-time Grammy winner Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder, required something special.
“This year’s benefit is called ‘Docabilly’ because we’re celebrating what would have been the 95th birthday of the legendary Arthel ‘Doc’ Watson,” said Acoustic Routes founder Jim Cain. “Doc overcame blindness and rose from rural poverty to become one of the most influential folk musicians of all time. He and Ricky were good friends, so we’ll hear great stories and some of Doc’s best-loved songs. For a historic show like this, I wanted a design that connects the past and present in a very personal way. I immediately thought of Karen, who is an amazing artist.”
For the Docabilly! poster, Moeller drew inspiration from the iconic work of the Hatch Show Print company of Nashville – a letterpress printing company whose history is intertwined with the golden era of country music and the Grand Ole Opry. She started by creating a digital design template on a Mac, then she brought it to life at Signal Return, a traditional letterpress shop in Detroit’s Eastern Market that is filled with hand-cranked presses and other machines dating as far back as the early 20th century. The focal points of the design are images of Ricky Skaggs and Doc Watson that Moeller hand carved into linoleum blocks. Then over the course of two days, she, husband Chas and Cain sorted through drawers of wood and metal type to assemble the design and print first one color, then the next.
“In today’s world, most design work is done on a computer and printed digitally, which provides tremendous creative flexibility, and incredible precision,” Karen Moeller said. “Letter press printing is more of a labor of love. Everything is done by hand from setting the type and mixing the ink to feeding the press, so no two prints are the same. The variations in color and resolution are all part of the charm.”
All profits from Docabilly! will benefit the Breakfast at St. Andrew’s daily meal program in Ann Arbor, which has served the homeless and people struggling to make ends meet since 1982. Copies of the Docabilly! poster will be on sale at The Ark during the show.
Docabilly! sponsors include General Motors Co., Kirkland & Ellis LLP, The Bank of Ann Arbor, Ann Arbor State Bank, Zingerman’s Community of Businesses, Old National Bank, M.L. Hassett Inc., Michigan Power Rodding, Suburban Chevrolet Cadillac of Ann Arbor, The Plum Orchard Group and Weber’s Inn.
To learn more about Acoustic Routes Concerts, visit them on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/acousticsaline/