Pretty cool press

And unique for that matter…

If you’ve ever flown in/out of the new Terminal 2 at SFO you have to walk past a bookstore called Compass Books. When the terminal reopened a couple of years ago the store commissioned a local artist to create a sculpture that represents “the tremendous impact that type and the written word has had on the history of civilization.”

For any printer it’s just a beautiful piece of craftsmanship to observe.

You can view the artist’s own photos here (because my cell phone photos don’t do it justice).

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hmm…links not embedded. let’s try that again:

Compass Books

Shawn Hibmacronan (artist)

Pretty darn cool. Definitely checking it out next time I’m at SFO. Thanks for the post.


interesting its good to support art

You know when I looked and this piece my IMMEDIATE thought was “Oh, WOW this just speaks to me about the tremondous impact that type and the written word has had on the history of civilization.”

What total and utter bullshit! It is a great looking and most likely well crafted wood sculpture but it would probably baffle any layman as to how this could possiblly be a printing press. Some parts would only be recognizable to those that actually had some familiarity with letterpresses (the heavy platen for instance). And exactly where would the “tremendous impact of type” or the “history of civilization” be clearly realized by this amage?

I’ll probably catch some heat for this observation, but I have always “called them like I see them.” As I get older I think I have less tolerance for bullshit.



Jeez, it’s a sculpture/art, and open to interpretation, in my opinion. And, sure, you’re welcome to call bullshit on whatever you please, but it was an artist’s interpretation of the commission. Based on the bits of information at hand, he wasn’t told to make a printing press - he just opted to incorporate that sort of functionality into his piece.

I think it’s pretty cool, and I love the fact that what I presume is an independent book store commissioned an independent artist to make a work of art to attract attention to their business. That seems like a great idea all around. As much as I love to look at old printing presses, I’d much rather see a work of art displayed than a perfectly useable press.

Or they could have picked up a nice old Columbian in UK, restored it, and animated it somehow to make the eagle hop up and down — and shown a real piece of American printing history and sculpture all in the same piece. Of course there are no American-made Columbians left so … oh well.


have the real deal
in front window
of my book store

yours truly

image: L1000392.JPG


image: L1000387.JPG


I am only disappointed that there is no video showing it working.

Well dang! When I posted my original comment above I had simply opened up the bookstores site to see the images. I just went to the artist’s site and now realize that this is indeed a workable press. Surprise, surprise, surprise. It is actually pretty neat!

What I was railing against was the flowery bullshit prose that generally goes along with a lot of “artwork” that could never stand a chance on its own but gets bolstered by a whole litany of written crap in a desparate attempt to rationalize it.

One of my favorite old cartoons showed several people sitting in a conference room and someone declared “What we need is a concept, not an idea.”


i seem to recall something about a book and its cover.

all art has a back story. the Statue of Liberty would just be a statue of a woman in a robe without her back story and what she represents.

glad to see you have been enlightened. : )

The statue of Liberty really needs no explanation. However a paperclip hanging by a string from the ceiling of an art gallery and labeled as “art” is entirely another matter.



Where’s your bookstore? I’ll visit if I’m ever nearby.


to trbloco2402

Thank you for giving me an interesting conundrum.

If we could find someone who does not know the back story of the Statue, and who does not even know where it is [yes, it is possible, though the rest of the requirements could be debated], would they agree/not agree that it is art?

This is a question I will present to friends/acquaintances/some strangers when the occasion warrants; but I will need to explain the thought of “no back story”..

Thank you again for the thought.


hello Jason
book store is 4 miles north of Detroit
3155 12 Mile Rd.
Berkley Mi
open afternoons tues / sun
closed mondays
closed sunday during summer

dit dit


Sometimes people just make things to make things, and they do try to bullshit a bit of a literary explanation afterwards- my experience has found that art mostly is there to speak for itself (if it is even meant to speak), and we are simply the eyes and ears.

I like to think of great artists statements as a clue- a hint at the intent. The terrible ones out there either give too much away or cloud the work.

I’ve often observed that there’s a lot which could go into crafting a really great artist’s statement, most of which unfortunately goes out the window most of the time…. But it’s kind of there as an option; you needn’t always read it (as the viewer), let alone lambaste something or someone for trying to write about their own work no matter their attempt. The great thing about statements is that they are second to the work (the exception being conceptual art!)….


If the SOL needed no explanation, we would not have to teach her history to children and immigrants looking to be natural citizens. No one is born knowing why she is there.

as far as a paperclip hanging from a string, while I would honestly have my reservations about its art-worthiness, I would still look to find its back story or inspiration before publicly calling it BS.