When KISD Graduate Dominik Schmitz and KISD Student Martin Schneider created a tiny 3D-printing press as part of their studies at KISD, they did not know that it would eventually lead to a successful online business. Now the prints created by their presses are shown in the travelling exhibition “Open Print Exchange”. August 26 is the last day for you to pop in and visit the exhibition.
The Open Press Project is a small etching press that can be manufactured using a regular 3D-printer. Martin designed the little printmaking tool as an Intermediate exam at KISD in 2018 and published the plans of it for free online with the aim of making printmaking more accessible. The 3D-printed press enables creatives to use very old art techniques on a small scale, techniques which usually require an expensive and heavy printing press, a luxury many are unable to afford.
Over the past four years, the files have been downloaded nearly 60,000 times and presses have been manufactured all over the world in schools, universities, fablabs, and at home. A community of printmakers has gathered around the Open Press Project and grew even more when Martin, Dominik, and KISD Graduate Kevin Falkenreck completed a Self Initiated Project at KISD and came up with a crowdfunding campaign in 2019 to offer readily manufactured presses to people without access to a 3D-printer. Over the course of 30 days almost 1,500 people signed up to preorder their own tiny etching press.
To be able to manufacture presses on such a large scale, Dominik and Martin decided to found a product design company and were able to 3D-print and ship all preorders in 2020. Dominik even wrote his bachelor thesis about the setup and operation of this company.
As a follow-up project, the two of them organised a print exchange for Open Press-owners. Participants created an edition of ten original 7x7cm prints, which were sent to Cologne, randomly exchanged for nine prints by other printmakers, and then sent back. More than 300 creatives from 26 countries joined in.
One print of each submission was digitised, published in the online gallery, and framed for exhibitions around the world. The first one was hosted at Kölner Graphikwerkstatt in Cologne, the second one in Nagoya, Japan and more are planned in the USA, Austria, Germany, and Canada. Exhibitions in the UK, Australia, and the Netherlands are currently in the works. With this project, Dominik and Martin are following their mission of bringing printmaking to as many people as possible.
The exhibition in Cologne is running until August 26, 2022 and you can visit every Friday between 5pm and 7pm (or by appointment).