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Meet Ingrid Schindall of IS Projects

Today we’d like to introduce you to Ingrid Schindall.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Ingrid. So, let’s start at the beginning, and we can move on from there.
I’m a local, born and raised here in South Florida with a brief interlude to study Fine Art Printmaking at the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) in Baltimore, Maryland. I opened Nocturnal Press the summer after graduation. The name came from my tendency to be in the print shop until the sun came up. My letterpress professor and I joked that if I ever opened a press that I would have to call it Nocturnal Press and once I was out of school and starting to sell handmade books and paper goods I couldn’t resist making use of the, still very accurate, name. I ran Nocturnal Press out of my living room for a year then moved into a studio space in a small, dank basement in Midtown Baltimore. I stapled plastic sheeting to the ceiling to prevent the dust and dirt from crumbling down upon the work area and moved some newly acquired, old equipment in. Nocturnal Press remained in that basement for a year before the urge to do something bigger turned into a feasible option.

Printmaking and bookbinding require big, heavy equipment that is unreasonable for many individual artists to own, so when I put the deposit on a Vandercook printing press, the plan was to find a way to set up a public access space rather than keeping the beautiful press all to myself. I researched studios in Baltimore and other nearby cities with thriving printmaking communities, but nothing seemed to fit. I noticed that South Florida, where I’m from, lacked accessible printmaking resources, so I started researching arts districts in the area. I came across the FATVillage Arts District in downtown Fort Lauderdale and found the perfect place to put a public-access fine art printmaking studio. The studio needed a new name to match its new breadth of capabilities, so I decided to give it a name that had lots of room to grow, IS Projects, while keeping Nocturnal Press as the commercial printing and boutique bookbinding side of the operation.

I opened IS Projects in an 860 square foot space during the September Artwalk in 2014. I had one big press, three little presses, and an active Kickstarter campaign for a large etching press. The Kickstarter Campaign was successful, and we added an etching press to the collection of equipment available to local artists. Each month the FATVillage Artwalk brought more and more people to the studio. Visitors always leave the print shop with a little taste of what fine art printmaking is and an expanded appreciation for what goes into making handmade paper goods. Workshops were added to the schedule featuring different printmaking techniques as a way to further public engagement and activate the space.

Soon IS Projects outgrew the small two-room studio and the space adjacent serendipitously became available. This was also the same time that Jessica Condon, a fellow MICA grad, joined on as the manager of Nocturnal Press, and took over all of our commissioned letterpress printing. We were able to double the square footage of the studio and create a proper gallery space to show artwork that emphasized the importance of the marriage between process and concept in art. With the additional square footage, we were also able to add screenprinting facilities and take on larger and more varied projects than ever before.

The team has continued to grow, we now have a staff of four fabulous art minds managing different aspects of the business. I am the director, big picture gal, bookbinder, and lead screen printer. Jessica Condon is our Nocturnal Press manager and queen of all things letterpress. Sammi McLean has joined on as our gallery coordinator and workshop coordinator, making sure that our schedule is packed with opportunities for the public to engage with ISP and finding new opportunities for us to highlight and collaborate with local artists. The most recent member of the team Melissa Vargas has joined on to handle markets and online sales as well as assist with studio production. It takes a village to raise a studio like this, but I’ve been incredibly fortunate to be surrounded by a supportive community and a focused, hardworking group of collaborators.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
South Florida presents a lot of challenges when going into an arts-related venture. One of the main hurdles for IS Projects was coming to a place with no printing history and virtually no established scene for printmaking and still finding a way to thrive. Our biggest challenge is also a large part of our mission — to educate South Floridians about the process and cultural value of fine art printmaking and spread the love of these traditional mediums.

When I chose to be a part of FAT Village, I did so knowing that the district would act as an incubator for the studio by bringing hundreds of people through the studio during the monthly Artwalks to see our presses and learn about the hard work that goes into fine art printmaking. Another facet of that same challenge was finding our people and bringing artists in the scene together. Artists come into the studio and say, “Wow, I’ve been making prints(or books) in my own studio for years! I had no idea that there was a place like this in South Florida. No one else does this here.” I must have met 30 printmakers in the first two years, and it was rare for them to know about all the other printmakers in the area.

In an effort to bring everyone together I teamed up with Sarah Michelle Rupert, of the Girls’ Club Collection, in 2016 to put together the first Small Press Fair Fort Lauderdale (SPF.) SPF is an opportunity for local and regional artists, printers, booksellers, publishers, authors, poets, bookmakers, designers, zinesters and cultural workers to share ideas and showcase new work related to printmaking, and zine creation.

In its inaugural year, SPF’16 brought together over 50 exhibitors and introduced them to a crowd of interested patrons and fellow art enthusiasts. Our exhibitor participation and audience has grown each year along with our surrounding programming. This year’s SPF’18 was our biggest and best year yet, with steamroller printing, an exhibitor market, printmaking demonstrations, visiting artists, workshops all over Broward County and an ambitious printmaking exhibition, Pushing the Pull.

By creating a platform for artists to share and profit from their print related projects, the amount and diversity of print work being made in South Florida have noticeably expanded. It helps that our efforts with SPF have developed concurrently with other print and paper related projects here in South Florida. It’s so encouraging and exciting to see the print aspect of the community growing so fast!

IS Projects – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
IS Projects a multi-faceted business specializing in all things fine art printmaking and custom bookbinding. Perhaps the best way to describe the business is to give a verbal tour of the studio itself and briefly describe what happens in each room. We have a small gallery and retail area in the front of the building.

We exhibit engaging local and visiting artists whose work shows of the marriage of process and concept, highlighting the ways in which process and craft can push the concepts behind the art. We currently plan six exhibitions a year with openings and programming happening during the FATVillage Artwalk on the last Saturday of each month. It’s inspiring to get to work so closely with so many different artists per year. The front room also contains our retail area where we showcase handmade journals as well as our artist book series, Existent Books. Each year we invite one or two artists to come into the studio and create an artist book that we then publish in-house in a limited edition of 100 handmade books.

The next room is the first room in the workshop side of the studio and is our main press room. This room is filled with antique letterpress printing presses, a giant etching press, and our collection of lead and wood type. This is where most of the magic happens. Nocturnal Press, our boutique stationery printshop and bindery operates mostly out of the main press room. We create custom paper goods, such as business cards, invitations, and posters, for a range of clients including local businesses, brides-to-be, artists, restaurants and many others. Our main focus with Nocturnal Press is creating high quality, custom, paper goods that will stand out when they’re handed out or sold by our clients.

The main press room is also where we teach workshops and have private studio instruction available to help local artists learn different printmaking techniques. We hope that by engaging with local artists and providing a place for them to learn and practice that they will stimulate the evolution of the medium here in South Florida. IS Projects is a public access studio, so if artists already know how to use the equipment, they are welcome to rent studio time during our open hours to work on their own projects.

The second room in the workshop is the bookbinding room. We have bindery equipment for creating all different kinds of books from the most simple and industrial to the most labor intensive and traditional. We love working with clients to create the books of their dreams. It can be difficult to find a place that will make small runs of books, so we’re happy to be able to provide that. We also teach a variety of bookbinding workshops in this room. We have a schedule of workshops on our website, but interested folks are also welcome to get a group of their friends together and request a workshop at a time that works for them.

The final room is the screenprinting room, where I spend most of my time. I come from a collaborative fine art printmaking background, so I get the most joy when I am working with artists to create the work that they have been dreaming of. We print posters, fine art editions, invites, menus and whatever else comes our way. Screenprinting is a great way to print onto a variety of unusual materials like wood, plexiglass, mylar, and even napkins.

Big news: we are expanding! We want to be able to provide more room for artists to work and more printing services to our clients, so we’ve taken on the other half of our current building. This means we’ll have 3,000sqft of fully functioning print studio! I can’t wait to get everything moved in and set up. We’re planning to have the expansion finalized by February Artwalk.

The studio is open to the public 10 am to 6 pm Tuesday through Friday, so if you ever want to stop by and take a peak, please feel free!

Is there a specific memory from when you were younger that you really miss?
All of my favorite memories as a child involves being outside or making art. My favorite ever is when I was 8 I climbed to the top of the tree in my backyard with my backpack full of pencils and a newly acquired sketchbook, and I found the perfect seat and desk branches and spent the entire afternoon drawing horses. I loved horses as a kid, but after attempting riding them during a summer at horse camp, it became clear that riding them was not the best way for me to appreciate them, so I took up drawing them in a fervor instead.

Drawing horses sounds like an odd place to start considering where I am now, but it was that passion that had me drawing everyday and transformed me into the “art kid.” Being the “art kid” led me to art school and art school introduced me to letterpress and bookbinding and turned me into the printmaker that I am today. So thanks horses!

As a funny aside, I was in Chile a few years back, and a friend of mine wanted to conquer her fear of horses, so she signed us up for a beachside horse ride. We galloped down the beach and up the sand dune. My horse was the fastest of the squad but not the smartest. She tripped while we were on the downside of a dune and over we went. I tucked and rolled to the best of my ability and jumped up as fast as I could to see if I had been crushed.

My arms and legs, back and neck all seemed to be functioning so the guide went to find my startled horse that had ran away as fast as she could. He came back a few minutes later and told me to get onto his horse, so we could go to where he had tied up mine. This man was 5 feet tall, I’m 5’9″ I looked like a giant on his tiny horse in his ridiculously short stirrups only to ride about 400 feet to where my horse was relaxing in the shade.

I wiped the sand from her face and told her it was okay, she seemed embarrassed. We made it back to camp without incident, but when we got back, the guide told me that they don’t normally let visitors ride her because she’s “not very bright.” So my childhood inclination, to draw horses instead of riding them, is still in place today.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Lara Rose Photography, Monica McGivern, Ingrid Schindall, Sammi McLean

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