Wednesday Indie Artist Fixx with Row Boat Press

wednesday indie artist fixx interview

Husband and wife Rick and Amber G. are the creative printing force behind Row Boat Press. The pair design and print posters, prints, tees, and living in Seattle, a fair amount of rock posters. They also do custom screenprinting work as well.

Learn more in my interview with Rick for this week’s Wednesday Indie Artist Fixx interview.

What’s the name of your business, what do create and sell and how did you get your start?

We’re kind of a hybrid. My wife Amber and I own Seattle Show Posters, which is a custom screenprint shop specializing in posters, t-shirts, letterpress invitations and other ephemera. But because the name and business is confusing (we sell everywhere, not just Seattle; we do posters for bands from places other than here; and we do more than posters) we split off Row Boat Press, which is our direct-to-consumer company. Same folks, same products, just easier to ‘get’.
We started out doing very short poster runs promoting our friends bands – a dozen shirts and a small handful of prints was all we could handle. After a couple years we moved into a thousand square-foot industrial space, and this year when we outgrew that we moved again to a 1700 sf space complete with a storefront where we can sell the things we make, and a carefully curated mix of other handmade craft.

What blogs and mags do you read and what shops do you shop at?

Nerds at heart, we both devour Wired the minute it comes in – followed very closely by Bust and ReadyMade. But Amber used to have a job where she read magazines for a living (seriously!) so she’s much more into long-form lit nowadays.

Blog-wise, we spend a lot of time with Apartment Therapy, Yellow Brick Home, swiss-miss, mocoloco, ffffound, and of course

What are your inspirations in your art and life?

Obviously we’ll both say Warhol. Amber because she has a BFA and Rick because he appreciates a good prank. And come on–he was a screenprinter! One of us!

What’s your favorite comfort food and why?

Being in Seattle, 75% of the time it’s mashed potatoes with vegetarian gravy. For the three days of heat wave we get every year, there are these amazing gelato bars from Ciao Bella. We’re crushing on key lime graham cracker.

What’s something you’ve learned as an adult that you wish you knew as a kid?

A few months ago I was at the post office, shipping out a big stack of poster tubes. A guy came in and walked right up to the front of the line, cutting everyone else. I was raised to act politically but to avoid conflict so I kept quiet – but the guy in front of me spoke up and told him to get in the back of the line. It got a little heated, but eventually the cutter moved to the back. That really struck a note with me: It’s important to stand up for what’s right – not just on a global level but in your day-to-day life too. I wish I’d known that when I was 14!

Share something silly about yourself.

I just learned a really cool way to remember the alphabet backwards! Really all you have to do is remember the last three letters and the first three.
So it starts ZYX. Then you think of two states: WV and UT. Next you say to yourself (and I mean no offense at all), “That’s our cue to pee on MLK”: SRQP-ON-MLK. We’re almost through the alphabet so we dance a little “JIHG”. But we don’t get FED up when we remember CBA. Hello, useless talent!

What three things would you want to be able to have if you were on a deserted island? Beyond the basics of survival.

An endless supply of cream-colored paper, 10 cases of Faber-Castell mechanical pencils, and… wait. That’s it.

What’s the best thing about what you do? And the worst?

Screen printing makes a terrible hobby. There are so many steps from idea to final finished piece, and if any one of them goes wrong, everything after it breaks down. Some crafts have one target, but screen printing has a dozen and they’re all moving, all the time. That said, when you pull that first print off the press and it looks perfect, after you’ve burned your screen and mixed your inks and done all the steps right… that’s the best feeling ever.

What does indie mean to you? You can give a literal definition, choose to be a little esoteric or a combination of both.

We’re both (slightly) aging punks. While we’ve traded in our leather jackets and spiky hair for kids and dogs and responsibility, we feel committed to a DIY way of living that rejects the cycle of mass production and consumption. We make pretty things and release them into the world to make it a better place, and there’s a huge groundswell of like-minded folks. We value the love, effort and care that goes into what we make and what we buy, and all of us can build our own economy around that.