Saline Artist Channels Nashville, Detroit and Johannes Gutenberg for Lucinda Williams Concert Poster
Saline artist Karen Parker Moeller has tapped into printing technologies invented by Johannes Gutenberg, the 14th century craftsman immortalized for his eponymous bibles, the spirit of vintage Hatch Show Prints for the Grand Ole Opry and the energy of Signal-Return, a unique studio space in Detroit, to create a one-of-a-kind poster for multi-Grammy winner Lucinda Williams’ April 8 concert at The Michigan Theater in Arbor.
The limited-edition 16”x 20” poster features an intricately detailed image of the acclaimed singer-songwriter and her custom rose-decorated electric guitar printed in gradient of blue and lilac with silver-gray text. Just 50 prints will be available for purchase at the concert, which is a benefit for The Breakfast at St. Andrew’s, a daily meal program in Ann Arbor that is marking its 40th anniversary of feeding the hungry. Tickets for the show are available at Ticketmaster.com.
Moeller, the creative lead behind the award-winning Moe Design graphic design and branding firm, said almost every step involved in creating the poster was done by hand.
After creating the design concept on a Mac, she transferred it onto a large piece of linoleum block and carved the image of Williams and her guitar using special woodcutting tools. Next, she and two assistants – husband Chas Moeller and Acoustic Routes Concerts founder Jim Cain – traveled to Signal-Return, a letterpress shop in Eastern Market that’s home to thousands of pieces of antique wood and metal type and a collection of hand-cranked printing presses recovered from across Michigan. There the team, including artist and Signal-Return studio assistant Kevin Shureb, custom-blended the main color pallet and completed the first day of printing.
A second trip to Detroit focused on selecting type fonts and laying out the text. Then on day three, the composition was installed on the press using wood and metal spacers. After a short lunch break, the poster was run through the press a second time using another custom ink blend and racked for drying.
“The first time I walked into Signal-Return, I was blown away by the textures of the old industrial space, the smell of ink and beautiful art filling all the vertical spaces,” Moeller said. “The atmosphere seemed to pulsate with creativity. I knew then that I wanted to participate along with the fun community of artists that Signal-Return represents. It is a real treasure having this place in our backyard. I’m just grateful that I get to do this poster, and that the money raised by the concert helps people.”
This is the sixth concert poster and the fourth letterpress design that Moeller has created at Signal-Return for The Breakfast at St. Andrew’s. Her past work captured bluegrass virtuoso Ricky Skaggs with Doc Watson, country star Marty Stuart and R&B, soul and gospel legend Mavis Staples.
Since 2010, the posters and the benefit concerts – all produced by Acoustic Routes Concerts of Saline and Ann Arbor’s The Ark – have netted more than $125,000 to feed the hungry.
To see more of Karen Parker Moeller’s work, including her new Northern Michigan-themed illustrations that can be found in galleries and shops up and down Michigan’s west coast, visit moedesign.com and 620deep.com.