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Proceed and Be Bold!

Last night I had the pleasure of attending a screening of the documentary Proceed and Be Bold! about letterpress printer Amos Paul Kennedy Jr.

I first heard about the movie over 2 years ago, while I was still living in San Francisco. There was a little blurb about the documentary in one of the free newspapers, which I excitedly read and even cut out (I probably still have the clipping somewhere). I've been following along with the screening schedule for the past couple of years so I was really excited a couple of weeks ago to see that it was finally coming to London, to the St. Bride Library to be more specific. The film wasn't really about letterpress printing, per se, but about art, what it means to be an artist, race in the United States and, most inspiring to me, following your dreams. Like Kennedy, I spent many years working in "Corporate America" before discovering printing and it was really inspiring to see somebody who gave that up to follow their passion. Kennedy doesn't consider himself an artist, but I would have to disagree... It's clear he loves the act of printing, but it seemed very obvious in the film that he uses printing as a means to spread his message, to provoke, to make people think, to share his interpretation of how the world is or should be. To me that's art. I, on the other hand, love getting my hands dirty and printing, but am hoping to turn this love into a more commercial venture, printing for others. He does sell his posters, but that almost seems beside the point for him. There was a question and answer session with the man himself after the screening, and he was just as engaging as the movie depicts. My husband asked a question (about whether he had any regrets about leaving corporate life) but after we left he said that he had a couple more questions but didn't want to seem like he was taking over the session. His questions were about how much time Kennedy spends printing, and is it the finished product or the printing process itself that he finds most compelling about what he does. Both great questions that I wish he would have asked! So, aside from a couple of technical difficulties with the movie, it was a great way to spend an evening. AND, best of all, free goodies!

Kennedy brought along some posters that he left for each attendee on their chair (face down so you couldn't cheat and pick one you liked best). It was a wonderful surprise and a great memento of the evening. Now we just have to figure out where to hang them!

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