If you haven’t heard of Hartford Prints! before, well, you should. On its face, it’s a small paper goods shop and studio on Arbor Street in Hartford run by the quirky Gale sisters—Hartford natives—that specializes in distinctive letterpress artwork and custom paper products for a variety of special occasions. The story of Hartford Prints!, though, illustrates how the Arts Council’s grant programs really can enact powerful cultural and economic change in our community.
GRANT DOLLARS AT WORK
Back in 2009, Addy Gale, the oldest sister of three, embarked on a mission—to find a way to express her passion for printmaking. In this spirit, Addy applied for funding through the Hartford Arts & Heritage Jobs Grant Program, managed by the Arts Council and funded by the City of Hartford. The grant program is designed to create and retain jobs, especially in the cultural sector, within the Capital City. And Addy, who grew up in Hartford’s historic West End, thought it was the perfect opportunity to set up shop and return to her roots.
Grant funding helped support her start-up costs and created the opportunity to offer students from Hartford Public High School part-time jobs learning the craft of letterpress. This apprenticeship program led to the production of art prints, greeting cards and blank books expressing the students’ love of Hartford. Their was then showcased throughout Hartford, including the inaugural exhibit of the Arts Council-managed 100 Pearl Street Gallery, as a way of promoting the local community through the arts.
When grant money was running out in March 2012, Addy joined forces with her two sisters, Callie and Rory, to re-envision Hartford Prints! as a for-profit letterpress studio that’s seen a tremendous amount of success.
From Addy’s original idea to celebrate and safeguard the art of letterpress printmaking emerged a local small business with a mission of arts entrepreneurship and a keen, eclectic vibe with a passion for the Gale sister’s hometown: Hartford. The Gale sisters and their innovative print shop prove the viability of using the arts to generate economic impact and support local jobs. Through arts education and active community engagement, Hartford Prints! is a model of a small business giving back.
Who would have thought—so much good for an entire community from “three sisters and a press.”
PICK YOUR PRINT CONTEST
The Arts Council would be nowhere without the support of those who believe in the power of the arts. Every year, we like to show our appreciation to our generous donors to the United Arts Campaign through thank you gifts, one of which being a Greater Hartford-inspired print for those who contribute $500 or more.
This year, we’re partnering with Hartford Prints! and giving YOU the say in the final piece of art. The Gale sisters prepared three possible concepts for this year’s artwork inspired by some of the most beloved public art pieces in the Capital City. You can vote on your favorite concept in our online poll. The design with the most votes will be commissioned for this year’s thank you gift.
The contest runs from January 7 to January 20 and the winner will be announced on January 23.
If you’d like to learn even more about Hartford Prints!, visit HartfordPrints.com. Also—be on the lookout s for spotlights on each print the next two weeks featuring insights from each sister about the design. Happy picking!