Otis Laboratory Press ~ California
(Leslie Ross-Robertson, Lab Press Manager)

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Otis College of Art and Design: "Otis Laboratory Press is a fully functioning studio with four Vandercook proof presses and over 200 fonts. Established in 1984 by Sheila de Brettville as part of the Communication Arts Department, the Lab Press has a rich history of small edition book publishing, continuing to introduce generations of Otis students to the origins of typography and the notion of the book as a visual communications medium. Conceived as a laboratory for aesthetic exploration and a place for practical production, the Lab Press is an integral part of the graphic design curriculum. It provides a key link between traditional tools and digital media. Students actively participate and produce award-winning books that have become a permanent part of rare book collections throughout Southern California."

Through the Looking Glass
By Students of Intro to Letterpress A (Spring 2009)
Los Angeles, California: Otis Laboratory Press, 2009

5.75 x 9"; 38 pages. Letterpress printed. Linocuts. Accordion flutter fold. Front and end spreads pasted to the interior of cover wraps.

Design students (at the Otis College of Art & Design) explored popular song lyrics and put them into type. That is, a fragment here and there, an image here and there:

Lola! girls will be boys & boys will be girls ....

seeing Me and Julio down by the school yard. ...


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Do & Don't
By Students of Intro to Letterpress B
Los Angeles, California: Otis Laboratory Press, 2008

5.75 x 9 x .75";36 unnumbered pages. Letterpress printed. Linocuts. Accordion flutter fold. Front and end spreads pasted to the interior of cover wraps.

Students learning letterpress printing (at the Otis College of Art & Design) explore type and typography using song lyrics. The emphasis for this typographic wandering dealt with the words do or don't in song lyrics.
$50 (Last three copies)


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Homage to Object
By Senior Project Class, 1990
Los Angeles, California: Otis Art Institute of Parsons School of Design, 1990. Edition of 500.

12.25 x 14.25"; 27 leaves (some folded). Mixed media: various papers, types, and printing methods.

Scott Freutel / Whitney Lowe, introduction: "To begin with each student selected an object — something one usually hardly even notices, let alone focuses one's attention upon.

"We did exercises in free association, and we read from books in which perceptual shifts are important — notably Nicholson Baker's finely observant (and very funny) novel The Mezzanine....

"We classified the objects taxonomically. What were some encompassing categories? Where in the world is the object located?

"We listened to music with an ear towards appreciating simplicity within complexity ... and complexity with simplicity....We connected our auditory perceptions with all our objects.

"Students were asked to bring in some favorite junk food and compare it with their object: How was what they were eating like their object? In what way unbridgeably unalike? Munch, think, jot. Then each student was asked to draw his or her object as if — perhaps through some puzzling corporate slip — it had come (mis)packaged in that junk-food wrapper.....

"Students were asked to write sonnets to their objects, and later, haiku.

"We remade ourselves as cultural anthropologists: One assignment was to imagine a preliterate community in which the object was somehow venerated, worshipped, paid homage to. By virtue of what perceived qualities was that homage due? ...

"Students were asked to devise and then most carefully render a logo of their object: abstract, symbolic, readable, elegant."

The result of these labors is Homage to Object which was produced by the Senior Project Class, Otis Art Institute of Parsons School of Design, Department of Communication Design & Illustration. Each student contributed a page he or she designed. Colophon: "Each page reports or distills its author/designer's thoroughgoing explorations of a common object."

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Otis Laboratory Press Sold and out of print titles:  

By Students of Intro to Letterpress (Fall 2009)
Los Angeles, California: Otis Laboratory Press, 2009

6 x 9 x 1.5"; 94 pages. Letterpress printed. Linocuts. Cardboard stock covers with exposed sewn binding.

Each student was responsible for a letter of the alphabet and charged with determining content and design to produce a 12 x 9" printed sheet, which was folded to produce four pages.



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By Students of the Communication Design Class (Spring 1989)
Los Angeles, California: Otis Laboratory Press, 1989. Edition of 25.

4 x 6"; 62 pages. Letterpress printed. Linocuts. Illustrated paper wraps with stitched binding.

Each student in the Communication Design class (at the Otis College of Art & Design) produced a double-page spread about clothing:

I'm NOT going out with you looking like THAT!

We are born in and are one with our skin. Yet we proceed through life applying disguises. Until we leave this world in our best costume.

DRY     WASH     FOLD     IRON     wear


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From There to Here
By Jennifer Graves, Janet Kupchick, Leslie Ross-Robertson, and Jamie Russom
Los Angeles, California: Otis Laboratory Press, 2013. Edition of 20.

10.5 x 6.125"; 7 leaves with 4 flags per leaf. Hand-bound flag book structure. Letterpress printed. Numbered.

Leslie Ross-Robertson: "In conjunction with the exhibition at Ben Maltz Gallery, Binding Desire: Unfolding Artist's Books, the four lab technicians at Otis Laboratory Press collaborated on a flag book to showcase the work at Otis Laboratory Press.

"[It is] a collaboration between four artists whose talents and lives intersect at Otis College of Art and Design. The flag book structure presented the perfect form to incorporate four journeys to the college in both a literal storytelling manner as well as a larger historical perspective that brought the collaborators together.

"The book contains the artists’ journey in the codex of the book, with a map of Los Angeles as the flag image, and the back of the spine which contains the colophon, method, means, and biographical information of the artists: Jennifer Graves, Janet Kupchick, Leslie Ross-Robertson, and Jamie Russom. "

Otis Blog: "Jennifer, Janet, Leslie, and Jamie chose a flag book structure for their collaborative project and each of the four used a horizontal sequence of flags (or cards) with which to tell their story. "

The flags of Janet Kupchick are a nod to maps and the nature of the route she took to Otis. Janet Kupchick used her flags to produce a detailed time line of her journey to Otis.

Jennifer Graves: “Inspired by the film ‘The Butler’, my journey to Otis evolved to so much more than physically getting from point A to point B. It is the oppression suffered and the fight for equality through history that paved my road. My flaps depict an abbreviated time historical line of just a few events that made it possible for me, an African – American woman, to experience life in ways that were unfortunately not possible in the past.”

Leslie Ross-Robertson: “My images are inspired by the architectural history of Los Angeles on my daily commute to Otis … Some of the buildings depicted are familiar icons, while others are rather unassuming or overlooked landmarks, though no less compelling.”

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One Must Return
By Fabian Debora, Alex Kizu, Juan Carlos Muñoz Hernandez
Los Angeles: Otis Laboratory Press, 2013. Edition of 100.

12 x 18" letterpress printed broadside. Numbered and signed by the three artists.

Collaboration of Homeboy Industries artists Fabian Debora, Alex Kizu, and Juan Carlos Muñoz Hernandez with Otis Lab Press. Mash-up of drawings turned into a polymer printing plate, four pass collaborative printing.

Printed on the occasion of the exhibition "Bridging Homeboy Industries: Fabian Debora, Alex Kizu, and Juan Carlos Muñoz Hernandez, curated by Annie Buckley (MFA’03) for the Ben Maltz Gallery, Otis College of Art and Design, Los Angeles.

The Artists:

Fabian Debora, artslant.com: “Born in El Paso, Tx. and raised in Boyle Heights, Ca., Fabian Debora has been creating art since his childhood. Beginning his art career in 1995 as a member of the East Los Angeles Streetscapers, Fabian was mentored by many Chicano artists and muralists and was introduced a creative expression in all forms, from graffiti to murals to sketching and fine art painting. Over the years Fabian has created murals throughout East Los Angeles and continued to develop his style through work on canvass. He has been showcased in solo and group exhibitions throughout the United States, including Santa Barbara, Los Angeles, and Kansas City.

"Fabian is currently a counselor and mentor at Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles and works in collaboration with OTIS College of Design as a liaison between community artists in Boyle Heights and students in the classroom."

Alex Kizu, HPM-Project: "As a founding member of the respected crews K2S, STN & KGB, Alex "DEFER" Kizu has been an integral part of the Los Angeles street art scene since the mid-1980s. He is well known for his expertise in rendering beautifully complex letter-form.

"Interviews and work by Kizu have been included in a number of esteemed compendiums of graffiti art – a testament to Alex Kizu’s artistic stature in the realm of Los Angeles street art. Whether it’s the LA-centric graffiti book, Graffiti LA by Steve Grody, or the national scope covered in the recently released The History of American Graffiti by Roger Gastman and Caleb Neelon, Kizu’s influence on the visual language found in the City of Angels cannot be overlooked."

Juan Carlos Muñoz Hernandez: "Juan Carlos Muñoz Hernandez is an artist that combines graffiti art, sculpture, and oil based paintings to create a fresh cultural expression. A native of Mexicali, Mexico, Juan Carlos has over 20 years of artistic experience. Prior to relocating to the United States, Juan Carlos began his artistic endeavors as child by creating sculptures with clay from his native Mexico. His creative talents were eventually influenced by the urban landscape of Los Angeles.

"Upon moving to Los Angeles, he and his family settled in the Pico Aliso Housing Development in Boyle Heights, where he was introduced to the process of creating aerosol-based murals. Juan Carlos began creating a series of spontaneous murals he calls 'Urban Hidden Literature' more commonly known as graffiti art. His artistic talents led to his first official commission in 1991 with Homeboy Industries. Juan Carlos has since been commissioned to paint five additional murals throughout the County of Los Angeles."


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Page last update: 08.25.18


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