Farewell To Our Apprentices

This past year the WNY Book Arts Center did something new. We received a grant to hire two apprentices for a year long training program. If you’ve been reading this blog, then you’re already familiar with the work of one of our apprentices. That would be me. Hi, I’m Branwyn, I came in as an intern last year, applied for the apprenticeship, and have been working at WNYBAC ever since.

Our other apprentice is Zach. While I’ve filled the role of marketing apprentice, Zach has worked as the studio apprentice. This means we’ve each had very different roles here at WNYBAC throughout the year. Read on to learn more about what we’ve been up to this year, and where we want to go from here:


Zach:

Primary roles and responsibilities:

As time went on, I primarily fell into the role of designing/printing a mass variety of things. Of course I helped with other aspects of the grander mission, but most of my time was spent in the screen print studio making pamphlet covers, cards, posters, shirts…anything that will accept ink, really. I also like to think I had the unofficial role of making sure the microwave always worked, considering I would nuke my coffee at least 13 times a day.

Something I accomplished here that I’m proud of:

The Westside print, for sure. As a whole, that was an accomplishment because it was full of aspects I’d never really visited at length before.  The buildings were all drawn by hand (something I never considered myself to be decent at), and the print was 4 separate colors (faux 6 color, if you look at it enough), another task I’d never really tackled. I also ruined a bunch of shirts too, which is an accomplishment in stupidity via not wearing an apron enough.

Favorite part of the apprenticeship:

Really just getting to be in the studio and making stuff, and through that, learning more. I may have not always had an attachment to what I was printing, but at the very least, I became a little bit more skilled each time I did it. Best way to learn is through failure and repetition, and I had plenty of that.

Something I learned during the apprenticeship:

I guess the practical answer would be how exactly letterpress printing works, how to set the forme, blah blah blah. Same goes for screen printing – how to do multi colored prints, what squeegees to use and when, etc. A more personal answer would be patience. Like most things, good work takes good time, and sure you could pull off some decent stuff working at lightning speed, but it’ll never live to its full potential that way. Taking your time, lining everything up, all of that, are so important to creating really stand-out prints. Be patient, mon ami.

 

Future plans:

Oh man, that’s a massive question. Tomorrow? Next week? 5 years? I guess ultimately the answer is to just keep making work I’m proud of, whether that’s through printing, design, or something else. One day I’d like to make a TV show. Another day I want to get into making gig posters. I’d love to do something with radio, which is a separate passion of mine. I have some plans, of course, but I’ve found that talking about plans before they are a reality is never a good thing. For now, I’ll keep my agenda to getting a coffee at Remedy, a bagel at Breadhive, and letting the rest fall into place. (Blatant shoutout to my pals).


Branwyn:

Primary roles and responsibilities:

My main role here was marketing WNYBAC. One of our major marketing initiatives that I’ve managed is the blog. I started it when I first started, and have run it all year long. I also do a lot with WNYBAC’s social media. In addition to just making posts, I have also taken on the role of creating post schedules for our events, so essentially creating basic social media campaigns for a specific event. Finally, I’ve done a lot of outreach to our community in other ways, mostly through mailchimps. I design and send out informative emails.

Something I accomplished here that I’m proud of:

Honestly, I’m proud that I’m helping to train the person who will take over some of my responsibilities once the apprenticeship is over. I originally started here as an intern, and I was one of the first marketing-focused interns we had ever had. So I guess I’m proud that I filled that role well enough that it’s become one we’re going to continue. I feel like I’m leaving a legacy here in some way. And the blog, of course, since that’s also going to continue after I leave.

Favorite part of the apprenticeship:

My favorite part of the apprenticeship was the summer months. Between BookFest, our month-long membership drive and member show, and all the festivals we participated in, there was always something to do. We also had a marketing intern during the summer, who I’m actually friends with from school, so getting to work on projects with her, and develop things like our Twitter personality was a lot of fun.

 
Something I learned during the apprenticeship:

Though it may not have been my primary responsibility here, I did get to learn a lot about typesetting and operating a printing press which was so cool! When I got to set and print things, which usually ended up being small informational postcards about upcoming events and what not, it was a great creative outlet. I’ve been so focused on building my professional resume while I’ve been in college that I haven’t gotten to do a lot of creative projects, so it was really great to be back in an artistic environment.

 

Future plans:

My future plans, first and foremost, are graduating from college with my Bachelor’s Degree in Communication Studies, which I’ll do in May. And then I guess my options are wide open. If there’s one thing I learned about myself while I was here, it’s that marketing for a non profit arts organization is a really fulfilling occupation for me. So I can certainly see myself working in a similar venue in the future. I haven’t decided if that’s going to be here in Buffalo or someplace warmer, but wherever I land, I know my time here at WNYBAC has prepared me well for my future career.


There you have it. That’s our take on the apprenticeship program, an incredible opportunity for us both. Over the past year, both Zach and I have spent time developing our crafts and working on things we’re passionate about. We’ve learned a lot along the way, and had a lot of good times, from drawing with sidewalk chalk and playing with a plastic steam roller while shooting the BookFest video, to listening to Christmas music while sorting through SO MUCH TYPE in the studio. Every day was a little different. And it sure will be different not working here. But don’t worry, we’ll still be around 😉

 I can hardly believe the apprenticeship is coming to an end. Since I’m still finishing college, the WNYBAC apprenticeship was my first long-term job that was actually in the field I’m going in to. And that was really significant for me. So it is with misty eyes that I sign off this last blog post I will write here. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading, and here’s to all those interns and volunteers to come. Working here at the Book Arts Center is an incredible experience, and I hope it means as much for you as it did for us.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank our funders listed below, for providing support to WNYBAC's ongoing programs taking place throughout Western New York:

NYSCA M & T Art 4 Moore Zenger Group Evans Bank Community Foundation Baird Foundation
Cameron Jane Wendt Foundation StoryGrowing