Why not teach your trade?
Maybe you’re bored with client work. Maybe you’re looking for a new revenue stream. Maybe you’d like to start and finish a project in one single day (and get PAID at the end of it). Whatever the reason, why not teach your trade?
Anna Savoie, the founder of Passepartout Press, runs a letterpress studio in The Netherlands. When she’s not working with clients on custom projects and producing cards and prints for retail, she teaches a thorough letterpress how-to class at her studio. She does have a teaching background, but she insists that if you know your trade and can promise your students will walk away with something tangible, you’ll do just fine.
You have your own letterpress studio. What inspired you to expand your business to teaching?
AS: I have a background in teaching. I taught at NYU for years and then also online tutorials. When I was amassing all the info I needed to start my letterpress business it took nearly a year. I thought, I bet there would be people interested in condensing that into 1 day. Teaching and public speaking are very natural for me. A calling, if you will. So I was excited to expand my business to include workshops.
Walk us through a workshop day:
AS: You come over and we start with a chat while I make you coffee or tea. Then we sit down with your design at the computer and I show you how to optimize it for letterpress. Then we modify it so that it is film printing ready. After that we print films. Using the films we expose the plate to UV light and then we wash it out. After that, we expose one more time and then we have lunch (usually quiche and salad but I’m amenable to all dietary restrictions!). After lunch it’s down to the printing! I explain the press, show the paper and ink offerings and demonstrate the process. Once you feel ready, I step back and let you print! Generally at that point, you print and we hang and chat and I help when needed. At the end of the day we usually have a little something sweet and a coffee or glass of something stronger to cap it off. You leave with your films, plate, and all your self-made prints wrapped up nicely by yours truly. It’s always a great time.
How do you market your classes? What kind of students are finding you?
AS: I generally market on the printmakers forums over here. The class is 8 hours and is geared towards the type of student that wants to invest a whole day for it. My students range from hobbyists, machinists, entrepreneurs, designers, fellow printmakers, bored 9-to-5-ers. Really, it’s quite a range.
What kind of students aren’t finding you (who do you want to teach more)?
AS: The crafty Pinteresters and Instagrammers. It’s such a fun and creative day, and I think it can be enjoyable even to someone who isn’t a professional maker.
What do you like about teaching that’s different than direct client work?
AS: Teaching is one of those things that I have always felt is mine. Right from the start I knew I was good at it; I feel like it’s a calling. I love it. I gain so much from my students and them from me. It’s perfectly symbiotic. Direct client work is a bit more up and down. Where I’ve never had a difficult student, I have had difficult clients, people whose expectations I had to be quite careful in managing. Students approach the medium with optimism and excitement. Clients can approach a collaboration with more skepticism and trepidation. That’s not to say client work isn’t intensely rewarding in it’s own right, but teaching tends to be smoother sailing.
What do you think are the most important things to consider when presenting/packaging your skills as a class or workshop?
AS: Explain what the class will offer and what the students will learn and if there is any take home; as in my case letterpressed cards. Make sure all that info is upfront. After that information is out there, then you can wax on about your credentials, but I find people are much more interested in what they are going to get out of a class, than checking out your background.
Thanks, Anna for sharing your insights!
If you’re going to be in Amsterdam or The Hague and are interested in learning the art of letterpress from Anna, shoot her an email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Do you teach your trade? Please share your thoughts and link to your class in the comments: