Just a Jar Design Press: Handmade, Fine Art, Music Posters and So Much More
The music community is made up of more than people who make the music we love. It's also made up of people and businesses who help showcase, promote, support and bring awareness to music. One of my favorite shops in Marietta is a local letter and wood cut press and design shop I'm proud to call a part of our music community.
If you’ve yet to stop in to see Just a Jar (Design Press) since they’ve moved to their street-level shop on Front Street (in Marietta, Ohio)...
If you haven’t seen the colorful, beautiful, hand made woodcut posters and creations Just a Jar is known for (and truly, even if you have seen these posters all over town, the state, the country)…
I humbly think you should make a trip over there, immediately and repeatedly.
In case you’re not sure where you’ve seen their work before, Just a Jar and the work of Bobby and Sara Rosenstock have been commissioned to create gorgeous visuals for music and community festivals, concerts, bands, and many local and national businesses, and you can visit their studio/work space, shop and showroom. Here are a few examples of work they've done:
I’d wanted to share Just a Jar’s work with the world since I first saw their concert posters a few years back at an art festival. The skilled yet raw feel of their woodcarving prints took me back to my days in the printmaking room at school. It made me want to create more, and it made me want to learn more about their journey to becoming pro artists (it may sound silly, but as fine artists, it's sometimes challenging to believe you can get paid to make fine art). When I was invited to learn more about their shop and work, I jumped on the chance.
One thing you’ll quickly learn while talking with Bobby is it’s just easy to hang out with him. I’d gone to visit on the day he was finishing up the poster for Mavis Staples’ upcoming (this week!) OU concert, and found myself immediately and endlessly fascinated with the printing process and the history that brought Bobby (and his wife and co-owner, Sara) to the town of Marietta. Through the patience of Job (on his part), I learned so much about the trade tools, the envisioning and printing process of a reductive block print, and the drive that is turning their small and custom printing and design company into a household name in the music community (and beyond).
Bobby first fell in love with printmaking in college, and the love never left. In fact, if you ask him today what some of his favorite commissions are, he still is quick to reply that woodcuts get high rankings.
Inspired by woodcut as a fine art while in school, Bobby explored different career outlets for his love of print after graduation. He worked for a large format print shop and screen printer before Sara was offered a job in Marietta, and when news of the move to the Mid-Ohio Valley was announced, Bobby took the opportunity to buy his own press, and started printing out of their home garage. At this time, he realized he wanted to see what kinds of projects he could print on his own.
More motivated than ever by his love of printmaking, Bobby decided to seek out ways to make a living from this art in the Marietta area. His first local printing gig was printing wedding invitations for one of the staff members of Stuart’s Opera House, in 2003. After the invitations were well-received, Bobby proposed doing some posters for an upcoming Stuart’s fundraiser. The Opera House was excited about the idea, having in their personal collection some vintage concert posters that were similar in look and feel to Bobby's work...but Stuart's was cautious, as they’d never tried to sell fine art posters, before. They took a leap of faith, however, and the rest is history.
This has been an exciting direction for Bobby and Just a Jar, combining his love of music with handcrafted, personal art that represents the very music he loves. Sometimes the ideas are straight from his own mind, and other times they are more of a collaboration with the artists and/or their representatives. In the times when projects may not come straight from his own ideas, I asked if that was a struggle (as it can be for some artists). How does it feel when a project pushes your boundaries?
“Some of your best work can come out of the times you’re scared, and really pushing yourself.”, Bobby Rosenstock shared with me when talking about creating work that challenges him. Being a commercial artist, there are times when your client’s needs surpass or challenge your vision…”but it’s our job to be professional problem solvers”.
When I asked about the (envisioning through) creation process, Bobby explained to me, he often has ideas of the finished product before even beginning…sometimes he’ll have an idea started in his mind years beforehand, like a poster he’ll soon be working on for an upcoming David Wax Museum show.
A big fan of David Wax Museum's music, Bobby, Sara (and their oldest daughter Elle) saw them perform at Nelsonville (Ohio) Music Festival in the No-Fi Cabin. To date, it was one of their favorite performances, full of energy and movement and even some loving interaction with their daughter. Inspired by Mexican Folk Music (which furthered the Rosenstocks’ connection-given Bobby’s family in the Southwest and Grandparents in Mexico), Bobby struck up a conversation with the band after their set, and casually mentioned his poster making. The band actually remembered the Just a Jar work from a previous show/display, and began working on a commission, which is now in progress.
You may see Just a Jar sharing some of the most exciting commissions and creations online. You might think they’re the luckiest people alive to happen upon their career path(s) and interactions with some of the best known local and national acts out there. But rest assured, their success only has a little to do with luck. Bobby and Sara’s commitment to their love of music and people, to their business, and to creating highly personalized, hand crafted works of art (while being easy and enjoyable to work with) have earned them a powerful reputation well outside of the Valley, while making us proud to call them neighbors.
Keep an eye on the new Mavis Staples’ poster, released this week for Thursday’s OU Templeton Blackburn performance. And keep another eye on the upcoming David Wax Museum poster, soon. While the posters are often mainly available at the concerts themselves, Just a Jar often reserves a limited run of their posters for in-shop (and festival) sales. Yet another reason to stop in soon-and often.
If you’ve yet to stop into Just a Jar since they’ve moved to their storefront at 208 Front Street (in Marietta, Ohio), this is the best time to go. While they are often open on Fridays (from 10-5), over the next month, they will have special Holiday hours:
(Friday) 11/18: 10am-5pm
(Friday) 11/25: 10am-5pm
(Saturday) 11/26: 10am-9pm
(Friday) 12/2: 10am-11pm
(Saturday) 12/3: 10am-8pm
(Monday-Saturday) 12/5-12/10: 10am-5pm
(Friday) 12/16: 10am-5pm
(Saturday) 12/17: 10am-5pm
After Saturday, 12/17, Just a Jar will be closed until January 7th. So make sure to plan ahead, and get the music and print lovers in your lives the gifts of Just a Jar by mid-month.
If you're interested in commissioning Just a Jar to create a custom print series for you and/or your band, don't be discouraged if you're not a national act. Bobby shared he loves creating with local talent (see the Cradle & Grave print in the wall display, above), and would love to hear from you, and talk about your ideas (or create something from his own mind, just for you).