Posts in Custom Work

When I get my hands on Santa

published by Fran Shea

Nothing says Christmas like sitting on a boozed up strangers lap. Especially if that stranger promises you all sorts of “goodies.”

The 1970’s were a rich time for the Shea family. 5 of 8 kids had already come through the hatch, (what did she say?) Mr. had a job, Mrs. kept house. Santa Clause sat at Dayton’s just waiting to kick off Christmas-Time. I do remember wondering how he could waste precious toy-making time just SITTING THERE on that throne. That wondering turned into anxiety which turned into paralyzing fear.

That might be why I’m not in this picture.


Nat, Em, and Zak are in it.

Andy and I are noticeably absent. There might have been a pants-wetting episode, or a throwing-up episode. Or a poopy-pants episode. Andy was always trying to get attention.

With the help of photoshop, I’ll be revising history. Soon, Nat and his BUSINESS partner, Ken, will be sitting on Santa’s lap… together. Ken needs to scrape up some childhood memory and get it over to me. I will remove Em and Zak (Zak clearly wants to be removed) and replace them with a little Ken. THEN, I will create a 4-color process halftone – OF COURSE it will be 50 lines per inch.


It will be the new holiday card for Tanek. The finest architectural firm in the land.

I’ve heard it’s tricky to print a 4-color halftone using the letterpress printing method. But you know what I say to that??


I say, “you’re not so tricky!”

So, here’s what that image looks like when it’s all pulled apart and put back together as a 4 color separation. Isn’t it delicious?santa-em-nat-zak-screen-grab-for-web1-450x353

Best In Show

published by Fran Shea

I was always jealous of those farm kids at the State Fair. Barefoot and confident, covered in dust — their coveralls did indeed coverall, catching every drip of ice cream, every drop of grease. I imagined that they slept right on the hay bales that penned off their milking goats – what a life!

Their blue-ribbon proudly pinned for all the Fair-Goers to see. And The City Kids lined up to milk their goats! Why can’t I have a goat? Why can’t I run around the fair barefoot — ringworm be damned! 

I guess that DIY story is coming together — one of the writers called me on my telephone… I kept telling her everything was “off the record” – she seemed confused. I can’t just open myself up to the public.  They did ask me to create Headlines for the other “Best In Show” categories. I wanted to do them in macaroni but they reminded me that I own a design and letterpress studio – not a design and macaroni studio. Now I feel like a missed the boat on that concept.


Here are some of the headlines they asked for:web-printed-pressed-450x213web-cast-and-carved

Oh, they also wanted some blue ribbons:web-first-place-three-ribbo


published by Fran Shea

I’m dripping with sweat. I’m marinating in sweat – the shop has got to be 100° . My head feels fuzzy… and my hands (are those my hands?) are leaving sweat-finger-prints on all the paper that I’m cutting.

Wait, I smell barbecue chicken! Wait, maybe I’m on fire…. False alarm. It’s really chicken.

So, I’m cutting paper in my bathing suit. I feel like I’m wearing a snowsuit in a sauna.

I love summer. I’m not even kidding.


published by Fran Shea

My kitchen faucet broke (again) and as I crouched on the patio with the garden hose and plastic scrubby, my mind wandered to faraway lands. Specifically, Wanamingo, Minnesota. Oh, Wanamingo! Has anyone written an ode to thee? I was in Wanamingo today and overheard this “conversation” between a mother and child at the 60 Stop Gas Station:

Child: “I  want eggs for breakfast.”

Mother: ” You can’t get everything you want. I wanted flowers for Mother’s Day and I got nuthin’!”

Oh, well. The REAL Wanamingo is full of chickens, barn cats, fictional alpacas and acres of hard-working folks that build chicken coops and excavate pig cemeteries – just for fun. These people walk around with just a hint of a smile, a smile that says, “I chop the logs to heat my house. I know how to grow potatoes. I know the difference between bush beans and pole beans.”

They also spend the Winter trying not to recreate a scene from The Shining.


Okay, so maybe I don’t have what it takes to step off the grid and live like Ma Kettle. Maybe the closest I get to feeling the heartland is living with a broken faucet. Fetching water for cooking makes me feel like a barbarian.

In between all my water fetching I made this :


It’s gonna be BIG people.


A Poster on Rosin Paper

published by Fran Shea

Recently, my roof was crawling with roofers and I watched while they threw hunks of 80-year-old shingles into my Lilac bushes. After screaming at them in the only Spanish I knew (¿De quién perro es ése??!! : Whose dog is that??!!) I grew very interested in a particular part of the process: a giant roll of red paper was used to cover my roof like gift-wrap – I thought it was strange and tried to mime some sort of conversation – my arms waving wildly, like I was landing a plane on an aircraft carrier. The foreman handed me a hundred-dollar-bill and told me I was special. I still don’t know what happened. 

Madge is turning sixty AND ALSO celebrating her 35th wedding anniversary. I have the honor of creating a poster to commemorate this Holy Convergence. There is a roll of red rosin paper and a couple cans of ink in the shop that are dying to be a part of the project. Here’s a sneak peak:


Are you my logo?

published by Fran Shea

Back in the day When Men Wore Hats, back when cuffs were linked, when the boardroom had a bar, when men were men and women were secretaries; way back then, The Logo was king. I wish I could have been there. Thank God for Mad Men.  Dear Lord, please protect Don Draper from small cell lung carcinoma. Amen.

I love a good logo. I love it like I love my mother. I want it to challenge me at every turn.  I want it to lodge itself into my relational thinking. I want it to manipulate me. I DO.



Selby Otis card

If your parents REALLY loved you

published by Fran Shea

they would have me design a super sweet invitation for an important event in your life. IF they REALLY loved you they would call me on the phone and say, “Hey, Fran! My name is Mr. Blee-Blah-Blah! I would like to demonstrate my love for my child by paying you to artistically interpret an upcoming event.  Your design savoir faire is the ONLY match for the depth of love I have for my child. They have a (insert important event) coming up. Let’s do this.” 


I’m just saying.

We created the following Bat Mitzvah invitation for a family that clearly knows how to express their love:



published by Fran Shea

What in the ding-dang are these city-folk up to now??!! Putting pins in good folks and charging money for it?! I got myself some thumbtacks and I can put ’em anywhere you damn well please and charge you half ‘n what these quacks are taking. You mark my words, next there’s gonna be all kinds of potions and maybe even some of that herb smoking. I got news for you:

This ain’t California.

We like our doctors wearing stethoscopes and blue pants. We like our doctors to give us shots when we don’t feel good. We like being sent to the pharmacist. WE LIKE IT.

Oh, flibbity flam. I’ve got some noodlin’ to do. Have a look at some of Fran’s “work” for Performance Acupuncture.
Logos… What the?
Some Logos

The calm before the sh*t storm

published by Fran Shea

One of my stalkers used to say, “I’ve gottalotta things in the hopper. A lot. In the hopper.” I often wondered if one of those things in the hopper was making a skin suit out of me. But I never asked – I love surprises. He once chased me on roller skates. I wasn’t even scared. Now, the cab-driver… the stalking cab-driver, he was a little scary. Although… he’d drive by an Old Country Buffet and was so high he’d often forget he was stalking me. He just couldn’t resist the chicken-fried-chicken. 

But enough of these bedtime stories!

WE’VE got a lot of things in the hopper: A Logo, Oscar-luncheon-gift-bag-goodies, a show at a gallery, a speaking engagement in front of pre-schoolers, a bat mitzvah invitation, more stupid catalogs. I’m nervous about the speaking engagement. If I make eye-contact with any one of those children they’ll own me. The last thing I need is a room full of kids throwing lead type at my head.

In preparation for the upcoming events I decided that someone should clean our little shop of horrors. Someone did. Isn’t it cute? *Note the framed photo of Kelly Clarkson next to the hanging hammer.

Zeichen Press Shop Look SE

Zeichen Press Look W

Zeichen Press Hamilton Pull


published by Fran Shea

Three 10″x15″ iron chases locked up with Touchpoint Buzzwords. Buzzwords and some other random cuts from the ZP collection – including a chunk from a newspaper insert advertising handy items for the ladies: A rubber-lined shopping bag available in gay plaids, a multi-tiered clothes hanger, a cap to protect the hairdo. What I wouldn’t give to have those items. My drab, rain-soaked groceries… My closet, crammed full! How could I be hanging my clothes on ONE plane? My hair, My God, my hair… I don’t even know where to start. I get a “do” and leave it completely unprotected. It’s like I don’t even care! Oh. Back to the Touchpoint Holiday Card/Disc Sleeve. It’s super sweet:

Touchpoint Mixpak