“Purgatory Pie Press is a sanctuary for artists, designers, and typographers who are seduced by the kiss of type and the touch of metal.”–Steven Heller, AIGA Journal of Graphic Design
Letterpress printmaker Dikko Faust and artistic director Esther K. Smith have collaborated on limited editions, artist books, cards, and prints for forty years. Along the way, they’ve worked with more than one hundred artists and writers. You can find their work in many public and private collections, including MoMA, the Metropolitan Museum, Cooper Hewitt, London’s Tate, Azerbaijan’s Miniature Book Museum, and the Brooklyn Museum. Smith taught artist book classes at Cooper Union and was invited as a visiting artist to Cooper Hewitt, Museum of Arts and Design, Princeton, Harvard, and other institutions in the US, UK, and Canada. Faust teaches letterpress printmaking at the School for Visual Arts. Together, Smith and Faust travel, teach, lecture, and exhibit their work. Highlights include exhibitions in the rare book libraries of the Metropolitan Museum and London’s V&A. After twenty-seven years of printing in Tribeca, Purgatory Pie Press now resides at Brooklyn Army Terminal, in ArtBuilt’s curated studio space.
The Press began in 1977 when Dikko Faust studied with Walter Hamady at the University of Wisconsin. On his first day of letterpress class, Faust “pied” (spilled) an overfilled job case of eight-point Century Oldstyle. Instead of sneaking out of town, he sorted through that type for weeks, spending a few memorable nights sleeping on the model stand in the drawing studio. Faust went on to complete his first two books and the paper for his third, moved to New York City, and became the staff letterpress printer at the nascent Center for Book Arts. Purgatory Pie Press merged with the EK Smith Museum in 1980. Faust and Smith’s wedding invitation in 1980 was their first print collaboration. Since then, they have collaborated on every Purgatory Pie Press project to date, in addition to Smith’s big-publisher books: How to Make Books (Random House) a reprint of Specimens of Chromatic Wood Type, Borders &c. (Rizzoli), Making Books with Kids (Quarto), The Paper Bride (Random House), and Magic Books & Paper Toys (Random House).