Meet Shadi Ayoub

Shadi Ayoub grew up in a print family in Beirut, Lebanon, where his family owned and operated a print shop. After his father passed away, Shadi took over the family business and expanded his technical skills in operating vintage printing presses. Realizing the need to share his knowledge and provide opportunities for others to experience print, Shadi started giving shop tours, hosting demos and workshops, and teaching letterpress at the American University of Beirut.

In 2019, Shadi moved to Cleveland and founded The 961 Collective, a letterpress printing studio and educational resource. He has been involved with local arts non-profits such as Zygote Press and Morgan Conservatory and has exhibited his work at various galleries and shows. Shadi has also been an active member of the arts community, serving on the board of Zygote Press and offering workshops and training at The 961 Collective, the Morgan Conservatory, and Zygote Press.

Through an artist residency and an apprenticeship with Master Papermaker Tom Balbo, Shadi has explored new techniques and pushed the boundaries of what can be achieved with letterpress printing. He is dedicated to elevating the craft and creating a collaborative space for artists to meet, print, and learn together.

Creative Impact Fund Project: Let’s Print Together

After hosting several public demos and workshops internationally and in Cleveland, I saw hands on how amazed people were after the reveal of pressing their own print which was accompanied by a huge smile and often “can I make another one?”. It made me realize how important it is for members of the community to know that this was an important part of our history, it still exists, and they can actually do it themselves! Most had little to no experience with print and the possibilities it could provide as a medium which was the catalyst for applying to the creative impact project fund. ‘Let’s print together!’ will be a series of three public print demos open and free to everyone which will allow members of the community to come make their own prints, take away some free prints, and be part of Q&A sessions. The goal is for participants to have fun while also getting the opportunity to learn a traditional craft and how it can be used to their benefit. One sessions will take place at The 961 Collective, the letterpress studio housed inside the Ingenuity Cleveland building in the St. Claire Superior neighborhood. The remaining two sessions will be mobile offsite sessions in collaboration with other potential arts organizations from qualifying neighborhoods such as Zygote Press (Asiatown neighborhood) and Future Ink Graphics (Clark-Fulton neighborhood). By doing that we will have a greater reach impacting three different redlined communities allowing members of those neighborhoods to experience the power of print.

The 961 Collective facility has several machines for letterpress printing projects, the manual hand operated presses are safe and will be used by participants to make their own prints while the automated larger presses will be operated by myself as a demonstration tool of what is used for commercial large run productions. Participants will learn about the basics of ink mixing, the tools of the trade and how to operate the manual press to make their print which they will take home. Participants will also get to see printed samples of previous projects some of which are commercial applications for clients while others are limited edition art pieces to show them the versatility and range within the print medium. The two offsite mobile sessions will be possible through the use of a small portable Kelsey 5×8 press which has been an invaluable tool at demos to allow people to experience print without the need for a large heavy press.

These sessions will be in collaboration with other organizations and hopefully yield larger crowds due to combined marketing efforts for a greater impact within the community. There will be 1-3 local artists/volunteers at each event who will help answer any questions participants might have and guide them into making their prints. There will be some refreshments during these sessions and hope to be able to secure sponsorship for snacks and/or meals. Through training, trial and error, workshops and collaborations internationally, I have come to realize the need and importance of knowledge sharing when it comes to traditional printing. Information on these traditional techniques isn’t easily available and it is essential to keep passing them on and creating interest around them. Shop classes at schools are no longer being offered and kids are often missing out on hands-on educational experiences. That said, these sessions will also be a great opportunity for all age groups which will be a fun way for people to meet, mingle and learn about each other as well.