2014 Wayzgoose Steamroller Smackdown at the SLU Block Party

Twelve (mostly) local teams aim to make a prize-winning impression
Posted August 06, 2014

If you’ve never seen the Steamroller Smackdown run by the School of Visual Concepts, you’ve been missing out. Lucky for you, though, it’s that time of year again for its  annual Wayzgoose letterpress celebration (now in its 13th year), when teams use a two-ton steamroller to compete against one another and print large-scale posters that are then judged for best design. “We’re looking for the team with the coolest poster overall,” says SVC letterpress studio founder and manager Jenny Wilkson.

This year, this great (and free) event is joining forces with another great (and free) event, the South Lake Union Block Party. Twelve groups will compete in the Smackdown on Friday, August 8 at Denny Way and Westlake Ave N. Among them are design teams from local titans Amazon, Starbucks and Oracle, along with other notable Seattle designers from CityArts, Tether, and Paper Hammer. Whether you’re rooting for the powerhouse or the underdog, they’re all bound to deliver great design. And since the large majority of the teams are on home turf, no one will mind if your local pride gets a little out of hand.

Here’s what you can expect: Each team will have created a large, custom linoleum cut (3-foot-by-4-foot) inspired by the culture and vibe of the South Lake Union area that they will then ink by hand with large rollers and print with the help of an asphalt steamroller instead of a traditional printing press. Each pair of teams has one hour to accomplish the task. (If you don’t catch them at Wayzgoose, the prints will be on display at the SLU Discovery Center at a future SLU Art Walk—date TBD—and then ultimately housed at SVC.) See the full schedule of teams and times here.

Want to get in on the fun? While simply watching the Smackdown spectacle is impressive, you can get yourself inky—sadly, you can’t drive the steamroller—by trying your hand at letterpress printing on two portable proofing presses at the Wayzgoose onsite plein air poster-printing tent, where you’ll use moveable type and imagery to create a one-of-a-kind, commemorative print to take home. Suggested donation is $2 and all proceeds benefit the SVC letterpress program.

If you don’t want to get inky but love handmade products by local makers, stop by the Letterpress Marketplace, where more than 20 vendors will be selling letterpress-printed goods, including local faves Paper Hammer, Constellation & Co, Tutta Lou Press, Bison Bookbinding and Letterpress, and Anagram Press. The professionals have already gotten messy on your behalf.