This week we sat down with one of Grouch’s newest Barista’s – Scott Alexander.
Not only is Scott top notch behind the coffee machine, he is also behind the local Freo company Neighbourhood Press which he runs with his partner Nora Mironov. Read below as we ask Scott about Neighbourhood Press, following his dreams and all things coffee!
It’s scary to take a risk, but not as scary as the thought of never taking it.
Hey Scott, tell us about Neighbourhood Press and how it all started?
Neighbourhood Press is a collaboration between myself (Scott Alexander) and my partner Nora Mironov; Nora is a graphic designer and illustrator and I am an illustrator and comic artist.
Neighbourhood Press started as a way for us to work together on a range of different projects from graphic design works to art exhibitions. Nora and I use a niche form of printing called Risograph to collaborate and experiment with other artists on print projects. I feel like in this digital age people think of printing as a way of replicating precisely what they see on their computer screen;
Riso printing is more reminiscent of a time before digital printers and online marketing campaigns. We want to try to get people to think more creatively about printmaking as a process and foster an excitement for exploring alternative means of production and publication.
We have recently opened our own retail store and print studio within the MANY 2.0 building in Fremantle; where we run not only our printing press but a specialty bookstore where we sell graphic and printmaking books, zines, artist books and merch.
You specialise in Risograph printing, can you explain what it is and; how it differs to a normal printer?
A Risograph Printer (Riso for short) is a type of stencil duplicator; but in practice operates in a way similar to screen printing. The Riso uses unique soy based inks that are housed inside of heavy cylindrical drums with an internal silkscreen.
Artwork is replicated by creating a wax paper stencil that is attached to the silk screen, then as the drum rotates, paper is passed underneath and an impression is made. If multiple colours are required then you can insert another colour drum, make another stencil and re-feed the paper, making sure registration between the colours is right.
This method of printing is obviously quite labour intensive and requires a fair amount of technical knowledge and artistry. However prints produced in this way all have a quality to them that makes every print feel like it was hand printed by the artist. The semi-transparent nature of the brightly coloured inks means that you can layer colour at varying tones that provide the opportunity for a huge spectrum of colour and experimentation.
A print produced in Riso has a quality that has to be seen and felt to be understood. We live in a world where 99% of printed material you see is digitally printed so when you pick up a print that has been printed differently it immediately stands out.
Personally there’s something particularly nostalgic about Riso as a print form, it reminds me of the dusty old Archie comics I used read as a child.
Rumours behind the coffee machine’s at Grouch tell us you’re a pretty good cartoonist, have you always enjoyed drawing and using your imagination?
I actually spent a lot of my early twenties studying Mechanical Engineering at the University of Newcastle, a degree which is all but useless to me now but seemed a good idea at the time. I’ve always doodled and drawn things but didn’t start pursuing it seriously until I lived in the UK. During my time in the UK i lived and spent a lot of time with a wide variety of different artists.
Since moving to Perth it’s become a more integral part of my career and focus and have worked to develop routines and methods for keeping up the consistent proliferation of creative work.
Neighbourhood Press is based in Fremantle, an area of Perth we absolutely LOVE! What do you love about Fremantle?
Freo has something indescribably appealing about it, maybe it’s the sea breeze blowing through the Norfolk pines. Maybe it’s the facades of the old buildings in the west end, or maybe its the easy going nature of the locals. It’s so close to Perth yet feels like a completely different city. Living in Freo feels like I’m always on vacation, and it’s beaches are awesome too of course.
What would be your main piece of advice for those reading this who want to follow their passion, but are too afraid to take the leap?
It’s scary to take a risk, but not as scary as the thought of never taking it. Following a passion is hard, the path is not always clear and at times that can be downright terrifying.
We started Neighbourhood Press with no money and no experience in running either a commercial printing press or running a retail space. We’re still working on it, expanding, growing and learning but we’re closer to achieving our purpose now than we ever have been.
I guess the key to following your passion is realising that it’s not going to happen quickly it takes a long time of consistently devoting a lot of time and energy and making it a priority in your life. Understanding it may take years before you see any return or growth. You could say it’s more of a slow trudge than a leap.
We hear you’re also a pretty good coffee maker, when did you first start learning about coffee?
I first got my start working in specialty coffee when I moved to Perth and started working for The Daily Espresso Bar in Swanbourne. It was one of the first coffee shop to do specialty coffee in the Western suburbs when it opened. Run and owned at the time by Laurence Greenfield who has since sold The Daily and gone on to open Community Coffee Co, in Subiaco.
Where do you think Perth’s Best Coffee can be found (apart from us, ha!) and what type of coffee is it?
Well, I never leave Fremantle any more so that totally factors into my choice. But if we’re talking coffee shops, my most frequented is probably Artem Coffee who run coffee within the MANY 2.0 building in the shop just next to ours. Darren and Tracy always sort me out with a killer long black or a hot cup of batch brew to see me through the arvo.
Best Wishes is also another favorite when I have the time to get down there. They’ve always got a good selection of filter coffee on the go (notable mentions would be a Burundi from NZ roasters Coffee Supreme and an Ethiopian from Twin Peaks in North Perth). Their loaded bagels are definitely worth a mid morning stroll.
Many people say that coffee is a fuel for their creative process, is this true for you?
Yeah sure, I feel like most people work on creative projects either early in the morning or late at night, both times of day that are definitely made better by a steamy brew.
What’s your favourite coffee and brewing method of choice?
I only drink coffee black, so I’ll either get a long black, filter coffee or an espresso depending how I’m feeling. When at home my brew method of choice is a pour over, I have a Hario V60 which I prefer to other filter brew methods.
We are all about supporting local businesses and business owners who are putting themselves out there and following their dreams! You can support Neighbourhood Press by visiting their website or shop front and retail store within the MANY 2.0 building on Adelaide Street, Fremantle.