This summer at Book Arts, we were fortunate to have a handful of enthusiastic, talented, and hard-working interns helping us out around the studio. It was a pleasure having them here, working on projects like organizing our space and materials, helping with our members’ exhibition, and designing and printing cards and apparel for our shop! As their time with us comes to a close, we’ve asked them to reflect on their experiences working with us, and we’ll be sharing their thoughts with the rest of the Book Arts community here, starting with our intern from SUNY Fredonia, Andrew Semo!

My name is Andrew and I have been an intern at Book Arts for the summer of 2023.  I am entering my senior year at SUNY Fredonia, and I am majoring in Sculpture.  Artistically, I enjoy bookbinding, papermaking, pottery, and creating large paper mache and plaster works.  I also enjoy crocheting, embroidering, reading, and horror media.  Over the summer, I have come to love screen printing and letterpress printmaking. 

I learned more than I could’ve hoped for during this internship.  I had minimal experience with a letterpress and zero screen printing experience, so I was learning new things from the very first day.  Our first project was making swatches of all the letterpress inks so printers could actually tell what color their print would be.  I enjoyed cataloging the inks and seeing the rainbow of swatches form in the ink shelves.  This project not only familiarized me with inks and how they behave, but also greatly helped the Book Arts community of printers as a whole. 

Our first print was thank you cards that we each designed and set the type of.  I learned a lot about letterpress equipment and type during this, and also how to operate the letterpress itself.  I enjoyed making my own design and seeing it become an actual card that others could use.  The next cards I made were two birthday cards, and I got to include imagery on these.  I liked making the playful designs and got to give one to someone for their birthday.  The letterpress was quickly becoming one of my favorite mediums.  

After these cards, I got to design the pamphlet cover for the 15th Annual Book Arts Members’ Show.  I hand-set around 3,000 pieces of 18-pt type to create the background, then printed a second layer with the show information in a different font and color.  This project was very labor-intensive but I loved the end result.  I felt very lucky and capable when I saw the show attendees holding something I created.  I also got to volunteer at BookFest, the event during which the Members’ Show was held.  I spent the morning running the letterpress demonstration and got to talk about the machine and how it works with everyone who came by.  It was very fun and rewarding to help people of all ages make their own letterpress poster. 

My sculpture professor came to BookFest as well, and it made me happy to show him what I had spent my summer learning outside of school.  

My next project was designing a notebook cover, printing it, and then binding notebooks together with a pamphlet stitch.  Bookbinding is my favorite form of art to do, so I was very excited and made 40 books.  Another fun aspect of this project was that the cover had to be an image made from type, or type made from images.  I chose the latter and used various images to write “Booked up” with printer’s fists pointing up.  My last two projects were screen printing projects, and my very first time using the medium.  I took part in the “Free the Books” campaign, founded by Starshaped Press, and designed tote bags encouraging people to read banned books.  After this, I resurrected a drawing of a blue-ringed octopus I did as a drawing in freshman year and made it into a 3-layer t-shirt screen print.  

Working at Book Arts has taught me two new ways of creating art that I greatly enjoyed and would love to do again.  I also learned more about art history and what many printmakers have been doing for centuries, and that community in art is extremely important and vital to the success of artists and community members alike.  I learned how to come up with project ideas, create designs, and choose the most effective one for what I wanted to say.  I spent roughly 18 hours a week at WNYBAC for the whole summer, and I know I still have only scratched the surface of the intense and tremendous world of printmaking.

I also learned more about art history and what many printmakers have been doing for centuries, and that community in art is extremely important and vital to the success of artists and community members alike.


Book Arts Intern