How I Got Here: Amos Paul Kennedy Jr

Having switched from computing to printmaking at the age of 40, Amos Paul Kennedy Jr has since led a life in letterpress. He talks us through his journey

At the age of 40, Amos Paul Kennedy Jr decided his job as a systems analyst for a multinational company wasn’t fulfilling and he needed something more. After dabbling in printing and lettering as a hobby for a few years, he decided to change his lifestyle and turn this passion into a career. Now, 30 years later, the printmaker and artist’s work is a celebration of craft and traditional printing processes.

Letterpress posters are Kennedy’s bread and butter; he creates them in his shop in Detroit, Michigan, often for just $25 a piece. Inspired by proverbs, quotes and sayings, his posters comment on society and politics, posing questions around race, equality and the notions of the artist. Though the topics Kennedy takes on are weighty, his posters are layered with optimism, hope and humour.

Kennedy has had exhibitions at MoMA, the Library of Congress, and other institutions around the US, and has taught and held workshops at some of the most prestigious institutions and universities.

Here, we speak to the ­printer about wanting more than the American Dream, his creative process, and why happiness can be a political statement.

Amos Paul Kennedy Jr at the Virginia Festival of the Book 2019; Image © Pat Jarrett, Virginia Humanities