“There’s a humility about Athens that’s awesome,” says co-owner of Double Dutch Press, Amanda Burk. She and Katherine McGuire were drawn back to the Classic City by the infamous “pull” of Athens. We’ve all heard rumors of the gravitational effect and these two stand as testament to its existence. After gaining their Master’s of Fine Arts at UGA in printmaking, they both went their separate ways in search of the next chapter, as many of us do, but found themselves missing the community and atmosphere of Athens. Additionally, as many artists know, once graduated from school, access to materials, studio space, and time is difficult to come by. With such barriers, it’s easy to lose touch with your work and possibly even your creativity. This is part of what brought Amanda and Katherine back home—to carve their niche in the world where they could do what they love and allow others to share in that as well.
Accessibility is a word that came up often during my time spent with the gals of Double Dutch Press. Making space and equipment available to artists who find themselves without. Making time and tutorials accessible for beginners through workshops. And also making handmade goods (and you know exactly whose hands made them!) accessible to those who value a product that’s functional and also fine art. When asked about the difference between printmaking verses digital printing, Katherine and Amanda expressed respect for both forms. Some projects may require mass printing that’s not necessary to do each by hand, while others desire an individual design created and produced by the artist. “We’re constantly trying to educate people of the value”, says Amanda in regards to the product and process of printmaking. The process of printmaking is something that I know very little about, but now see that each step is part of the creation. “I like the process,” says Katherine. She explained the multiple steps of brainstorming, planning, and carving that all go into effect before the actual printing begins, which is then another series of processes. Needless to say, it was quite educational for me to learn that there are many steps that produce the image that you hold in your hands. When you make a purchase at Double Dutch Press or ask them to create a design, you’re receiving a piece of art that someone (most likely the person assisting in the shop) dreamed and created. That’s something really special.
As for the future of Double Dutch Press, they are thankfully staying put in their Normaltown location. The size of the shop is perfect–long and narrow, bright, shelves filled with colors, and corners occupied half by machinery and half by fun things to buy. Things such as an owl mask that I’ve had my eye on for a while, postcards to send to friends who will get an idea of the spirit of Athens, and many other items that you won’t see anywhere else. Well, that’s not entirely true. Double Dutch Press actually has several products supported by stores in town and in California. They also have an online store that generates a lot of traffic. They intend to continue offering workshops, have placement in more shops, and build their clientele over time, which according to Katherine is happening organically. The workshops sound wonderful. If you think that you may be interested in printmaking but have little to zero experience, don’t be intimidated. Most of the students are completely new to the art. Katherine and Amanda work with you, your schedule, and your level of creativity, because they are genuinely interested in teaching printmaking. They both mentioned the “printmaking bug” and I’m not exactly sure what this is, but I have a feeling that it’s pretty great and I want to give it a shot.
I’ve heard for a while now that the ladies of Double Dutch Press are wonderful, and they are! So you should waste no time and drop by to meet them! Their in shop prints are witty, beautiful, and one hundred percent original—definitely worth a look. If you want to make something yourself and take home some goodies, their upcoming workshops are stampmaking, woodcutting, various screenprinting (with options of tea towels or posters), and then camps in the summer. You can sign up for workshops at their website or check out their abundance of handmade fare. The humility of Athens that Amanda spoke of is true and lived by the creatives who generate the ideas, the art, and the spirit of our town. Katherine and Amanda are two examples of such creatives. They’re doing incredible work because it brings them and others joy. I find that to be encouraging to each of us doing whatever it is that makes us happy and whole. It’s shops like Double Dutch Press and so many others that showcase individuals doing what they love, and it’s this that makes our town a wonderful place to live.