MWE news

State of Mind, Dec. ’21

I last posted a general Midwest Ephemera overview about six months ago, so it seemed like time for an update. Looking back at the past year, Midwest Ephemera has come a long way!

As a quick refresher, I’m an experienced (old!) graphic designer who started producing jukebox lettering kits as a pandemic side business in mid-2020. In early 2021, a friend and I bought a printing press and letterpress printing equipment at an auction, hoping to fulfill a longtime desire to learn the craft. Since then, I’ve spent most of my spare time outfitting and organizing the shop, and getting my hands inky learning to print. In March, I incorporated an LLC, “Midwest Ephemera.” I have a creative and fulfilling full-time job and a very supportive family, so I’ve had the luxury of nights and weekends experimenting in the shop without the pressure of immediate commercial success. But the more I print, the more excited I get about it, and the long-term goal of turning this side-hustle into a self-sufficient business becomes more and more realistic.

To that end, I’ve started doing some commercial work, you can see a list of Midwest Ephemera’s projects here. I’m getting more comfortable with the process and materials, and better at predicting the time and expenses involved. I’m looking for more projects and products, and starting to convert this website from a “Jukebox parts” website to more clearly advertise all our services and sell our retail products to the public.

One particular high point of the year came just before Christmas… the completion of our family holiday cards, which served as a proof-of-concept for a product i’ve been dreaming about nonstop since we bought the press, something that I think will set the course for everything else we do. It was months of work, a lot of learning (with a lot of help from friends) and a huge financial investment, but I was thrilled with the result and I have so many more ideas that center around the general concept… (More on that project here)

All in all, it’s been a very rewarding year, I’ve learned more than I thought possible, created several pieces I’m proud to show off, and I go to bed thankful for all the support I have, and with a head full of plans for the future.

I can’t thank everyone enough… my family, friends, customers, and the dozens of printers that got me excited about letterpress printing and selflessly helped to outfit the shop and teach me the ropes. At my age, life doesn’t change much from year to year so this has been a welcome shake-up, and it’s wonderful to be learning something new everyday.

—Bryan, 12/30/2021