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Proprietors: Chris and Lauren Foxworth
Services: design, screen-printing
Specialty: original T-shirt designs
Printosaurus' husband-and-wife team, Chris and Lauren Foxworth, met as dorm neighbors during their freshman year at the Kansas City Art Institute. After graduating, the couple started taking screen-printing jobs on the side while working at a local business that printed soccer jerseys. Printosaurus began in the couple's living and work space in 2009, after the Foxworths purchased a dryer, an exposure unit and a six-color manual T-shirt press from a friend of a friend.
The company offers design services and screen-printing on textiles and paper goods, and its clients include Broadway Café and Spin Neapolitan Pizza. Doodling while watching movies together (the two now share another day-job workplace, Tivoli Cinemas) provides inspiration for the T-shirt designs that they sell through their website and on Etsy. They say they want to open a Printosaurus retail space, a goal they're saving toward. Even without brick-and-mortar overhead, though, the Foxworths keep their prices low to make sure that anyone can afford to own an original design. "Who says art has to be expensive?" Chris Foxworth says. "Might as well have quality images for cheap."
La Cucaracha Press
2009 Campbell, 816-868-3678, lacucarachapress.com
Proprietors: Jordan Carr, Nicholas Naughton and Eric Lindquist
Services: design, letterpress, silkscreen
Specialty: community-focused printing
Community is at the core of La Cucaracha Press, which grew out of the ruins of the Arts Incubator's Inkubator Press, a membership-based printmaking studio that closed when the city shuttered its parent organization's doors in June 2011. Nicholas Naughton, who served as Inkubator's director, along with shop monitors Eric Lindquist and Jordan Carr, purchased some of the defunct press's equipment to start a new shop. Operating from a space in the City Ice Arts Building, La Cucaracha offers design services along with letterpress and screen-printing, but the shop also retains a membership-based system similar to Inkubator's, with a small roster of regular members paying rent to use the space and its equipment.
The press generates work through word of mouth; its jobs have included labels for Broadway Café's bottles of 20th-anniversary roast, tags and look books for Method boutique's Negro Leagues Baseball Museum clothing line, and fine-art prints for Peruvian Connection stores. Most of La Cucaracha's original designs center on repurposed vintage images, with a handmade aesthetic that takes advantage of printmaking's inherent irregularities. Further cementing its community-centered status, La Cucaracha has served as a home base for the Phresh Prints Co-op, made up of Kansas City Art Institute students who volunteer their design and printing services to local nonprofits.
Union Press Screen Printing Co.
1219 Union, 816-842-5683, unionscreenprinting.net
Proprietor: Zach Lovely
Specialty: small runs of T-shirts
In order to reach the printing equipment at Union Press, you have to walk by what Zach Lovely describes as the "workout facility": a graffiti-covered ramp that's positioned just right for skateboarding breaks. But you expect that here — Lovely is the man behind Lovely Skateboards. He started Union Press as a way to cut a middleman out of the clothing line he designs, and he had a key ally: Brian Scott, the production manager who honed his skills making prints for the Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art. The business specializes in small runs of T-shirts (a typical order is just 24–50 pieces), and his local clients now include Mercy Seat Tattoo and Art Gallery, Lady Luck Hair Parlour, and the Blue Nile Café.
Lovely says the shop's attention to detail sets it apart: "A lot of people just pump the jobs out. We actually care. We're not going to let you print your logo on your belly like a Care Bear. We'll move it up to where it's supposed to be." He hopes to open a satellite location for the print shop in Denver, but there's no plan to return to a retail-store model in KC. Trunk shows and online shops are the only places to find his Lovely line and Scott's Nug Life label.