Back for a limited second run of 150, we have a new edition of the 120 Kick-Ass Counties print in green, 12" x 18" designed, signed, and numbered by Hound Dog Press of Louisville, Kentucky. Available on Friday June 6th at 10:00am on our website.
For the re-launch of our 120 Counties print in a new color combination, we connected with letterpress artists and Kick-Ass Kentuckians Robert Ronk and Nick Baute, the men behind Hound Dog Press in Louisville, Kentucky. After the success of our original collaboration – which resulted in the 120 Kick Ass Counties print and two t-shirt designs – we wanted to share a bit of the Hound Dog Press story with the rest of Kentucky.
"Hound Dog Press is Kentucky Born and Bred" – Ronk is from Winchester, Baute hails from Northern Kentucky, and the two met at the University of Kentucky, where they finished Bachelor degrees in Fine Art with an emphasis in Printmaking. After graduation, Nick went to work in New York City at Browne and Company, a working museum at the South Street Seaport Museum in lower Manhattan, while Robert had a brief stint in the corporate world. They then decided to join forces in Louisville and start their own business, which incorporates elements of a 19th Century printshop into their space in Kentucky.
The presses at their shop range from 1892 through the 1960s, which means that the machines alone are able to create a vintage look, "as the handmade process and old presses create perfect imperfections that can't be recreated digitally." As Ronk admits, working in letterpress art means that they are "consistently learning new approaches to the process and are constantly problem solving. Using equipment that's 100+ years old will teach you a lot of patience." Because neither Ronk nor Baute went to school for design, they think of themselves as artists who are constantly challenged to learn new skills as the demand for custom posters, invites, and paper goods continues to evolve. As Ronk says, "We still like to be considered printmakers, cause that's the heart of our business."
When asked about their favorite Kentucky indulgences, Ronk explained Ale8 "runs through my veins" – and that there's "nothing like a good squirrel, canoeing down the Elkhorn with a crew of friends. That's my Kentucky."
That's our Kentucky, too, Robert.
Words by Hannah LeGris and product photos by Stanley Sievers