Kyle Durrie inside her Moveable Type Truck
Kyle Durrie inside her Moveable Type Truck. Portrait by Tanja Hollander.

Kyle Durrie is a letterpress printer based in Silver City, New Mexico, USA. Here, she tells us about his mobile letterpress shop.

Power and Light Press art degree

Tell us about yourself.

My printing business is called Power and Light Press, and I specialise in off-color greeting cards and posters. I am also the proprietor of Moveable Type, a mobile letterpress print shop in a truck.

Moveable Type truck

What is Moveable Type?

Moveable Type is my mobile print shop, a 1982 Chevy Step Van that I converted to function as a letterpress shop and mobile home. I travelled all over the USA (and into Canada, too), teaching workshops, doing demonstrations, and generally sharing the history of letterpress printing. The truck was my workspace and my home, where I spent many a day sharing my love of printing, and many a night curled up in my cozy sleeping bunk.

Moveable Type truck

How did the project come about?

To be honest, I was jealous of my musician friends who were travelling and touring behind their music. I thought, ‘if they can do it, why can’t I?’ I’ve always been a traveller, and I figured it couldn’t be all that difficult to load up some of my printing equipment into a truck and hit the road, spreading the good word about printing the old fashioned way. It took a TON of planning, starting about eight months prior to my initial departure in June 2011, and pretty much never stopping until I got back home in May 2012. I raised the initial seed money via (check out my pitch video here) and the rest of the trip was funded through individual donations, sales of my own work along the way, and occasional stipends/honorariums when I visited a university or other institution that had a budget to spare. It was really important to me to keep it accessible to everyone – I wanted to be able to visit people and organisations whether they could pay me or not. But I had to also be realistic about my needs (GAS, truck repairs, and food). Things had a way of working themselves out in the end, though. If one day I went somewhere that couldn’t pay me anything, then maybe the next day I’d visit a museum that could offer $250. It all balanced out, and it was a great lesson in trust and faith in humanity.

Moveable Type Texas

The tour was really long. There must have been plenty of great and not so great things… Tell us about what you loved about the tour.

The initial tour (there have been 4 in total) was over 11 months long. It was exhilarating and exhausting in equal measures. Hands down the best part was just getting to see so much of the country and meet so many interesting people – and also being able to share this process/craft/trade/art/whatever you want to call it. I was met with overwhelming generosity – people invited me into their homes for meals, showers, warm beds (though my bunk in the truck was great as long as I could plug my space heater in somewhere!).

Power and Light Press Oklahoma

What didn’t go to plan? What would you do differently now?

Gas was REALLY expensive. Not that I wasn’t expecting it to be that way, but there were certainly times, especially toward the beginning of the tour, where I really struggled to afford to get from Point A to Point B. Things got better as the tour gathered momentum – gas never got any cheaper, but people started getting more generous with their donations as the project became better known. I’d estimate about 90% of my expenses went straight into the gas tank of that truck. I’d also probably allow more down time and days off throughout the trip, if I do it again. My tour schedule was pretty relentless. Often times I’d drive 6 or 7 hours, go straight into a 3-hr workshop, eat dinner, then stay up till 2am catching up on emails and making plans for future stops. Then get up the next morning and do it again. Next time, I’ll definitely allow at least one day off per week, maybe two.

I’d also weatherproof the truck a little better (see my last blog entry about my winter travels last year…)

Power and Light Press bat shit

The project finished earlier this year. Any plans to ever do something similar again? Or did other projects come directly from Moveable Type?

I’m enjoying being still for a while, so I currently have no plans for another trip. This doesn’t mean I never will, it’s just not in the works at the moment. Since I’ve gotten back home from the last trip, I’ve been diving back into my printing business (Power and Light Press), getting my wholesale accounts more stable and building my card line. I had to put everything on hold while I was travelling, so it’s been a lot of work getting things back up and running, and I’m really enjoying the stability and routine. Of course, I know I’ll get restless again at some point, so we’ll see what happens! Right now, I’m in the midst of printing a series of the 50 US States, certainly inspired by my travels!

What happened to the truck?

It’s currently parked in my yard and functions as the guest room!

All images courtesy Power and Light Press.

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