Step inside a former Pilsen funeral home where Tan & Loose Press is keeping the 80s alive | Space | Chicago Reader

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Step inside a former Pilsen funeral home where Tan & Loose Press is keeping the 80s alive

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"The plan for the summer was to get 'tan and loose,'" says Clay Hickson about the origin of his publishing project's name, Tan & Loose Press. "It started out as a joke and grew into something bigger than I had planned. It's a little goofy, but it does fit the aesthetic of the work we put out."

Specializing in limited-edition artists' prints and books, Tan & Loose puts out posters and zines that pop with bright colors and throwback 80s graphics. Hickson, an SAIC printmaking grad, runs the shop out of a small office in his Pilsen apartment, part of a cavernous building that was once a funeral home. For the three years he's lived there, the building has been a haven for a rotating cast of artists and roommates; today it's quiet, save for the occasional rustling of Hickson's three-legged canine associate, Wiley, and the hum of a Riso RP3700, an 80s-era printer.

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Left: Clay Hickson and the Risograph

The work space is dedicated to stacks of color drums necessary to run the Riso, which is sort of cross between a screen-printing machine and a copy machine. "You set up your image like a screen print, with different-colored layers, and print them one at a time, but it's superfast, and the materials are really cheap, so it's cost-efficient,” Hickson explains. "It has more of a hand-printed quality as opposed to a digital print."

Prints from other Risograph presses from around the world, like Risotto Press in Glascow and Ditto Press in London, hang on the walls. Jerry Seinfeld's face, blown up and dotted in a half-tone pattern, appears in various spots throughout the pad. The prints are remnants from Hickson's idea for a Seinfeld-inspired zine. ("It was gonna be called Zinefeld," he says.) Two hand-printed banners, emblazoned with Hickson's own illustrations, hang from a living-room wall. They were originally created for "Tan Lines," an annual group show for which Hickson invites artists and illustrators to create limited-edition prints with Tan & Loose. This year's show, "Tan Lines 3," will be on April 17 at Solid State Vintage (1710 S. Ashland).

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