2014 Roadworks Steamroller Printing Festival

Thank you for attending the 2014 Annual Roadworks Steamroller Printing Festival!

The San Francisco Center for the Book’s annual Roadworks Steamroller Printing Festival is a day-long public printmaking and book arts showcase presented amid a selection of arts and crafts vendors, free letterpress, bookbinding and other demonstrations and plenty of fun. Using a 1924 seven-ton construction steamroller and an unlikely letterpress bed - the surface of Rhode Island Street itself - a team of 6 featured artists and printers create large-scale prints from three-foot-square hand-carved "Battleship linoleum" blocks. Now in its 11th year, Roadworks has become a popular tradition in the Potrero Hill neighborhood of San Francisco, drawing printmaking and book art enthusiasts from far and wide, as well as families with kids of all ages.

Click here to watch a Roadworks Steamroller Printing Festival video put together by Gawker Media's popular design and technology blog, Gizmodo.

"Like" the Roadworks Steamroller Printing Festival Facebook page to see photos from this year's event and to be among the first to find out news and information about the 2015 Festival.


Thank you to our sponsors, Arch Art & Drafting Supply, Blick Art Materials, Speedball Art Products and Whole Foods Market Potrero Hill for making the 2014 Roadworks Steamroller Printing Festival possible.

If you are interested in becoming a sponsor of the 2015 Roadworks Steamroller Printing Festival, contact us at cheryl@sfcb.org and be sure to put "2015 Roadworks - Sponsor" in the subject line of the email.

Limited Edition Steamroller Prints

The large-scale steamroller prints created at the 2014 Roadworks Steamroller
Printing Festival are now available for purchase. If you are interested in purchasing
limited edition steamroller prints, contact us at info@sfcb.org to set up a viewing
appointment or to purchase favorites today.

2014 Featured Artists

LET THE GOOD TIMES ROLL! We are pleased to announce the list of the 2014 Roadworks Steamroller Printing Festival featured artists. The featured artists are ::

:: MAURO FFORTISSIMO :: classical pianist and the creator of the Sunset Piano, calligrapher of player piano scrolls unrolled into banners, he melds music with the visual arts.

:: GRENDL LOFKVIST :: letterpress printer at San Francisco Center for the Book and San Francisco City College, blackletter calligrapher mentored by Ward Dunham, and offset printer at Inkworks, Berkeley, bastion of social activism.

:: RIK OLSON :: has carved his way through all eleven Roadworks, following the adventures of his grandfather's steamroller as it rumbles over a bridge of books through time, space, inferno and paradise.

:: ERIC REWITZER :: printmaker of 3 Fish Studios, brings to a smashing conclusion his triptych wherein San Francsico meets Godzilla, King Gidorrah, and who-knows-who this year?

:: LUZ MARINA RUIZ :: her early fascination with California landscape and light has evolved over the years to create a synthesis of nature, light and basic organic forms: the essence of life.

:: RICHARD WAGENER :: artists of the amazing California in Relief and The Sierra Nevada Suite published by the Book Club of California, will render his vision of the Panama Pacific Exposition, which enchanted the world at San Francisco in 1915.


Glimpses of Past Roadworks

2013 Roadworks Steamroller Prints

Contact us if you are interested in purchasing a print from the 2013 Roadworks event. All procees from the sale of these prints benefit the San Francisco Center for the Book and help to support our programs.

2013 Roadworks Steamroller Prints
The Making of a Linocut Steamroller Print by Peach Farm Studio on Vimeo.

History of the Event

In 2004, the idea of a Steamroller Printing Festival was first presented to the San Francisco Center for the Book by co-founder Mary Austin, who had heard of a similar event in New England. Board Member Nancy Coopersmith enthusiastically took on researching and developing the project for SFCB, and on Saturday, October 30, 2004, Roadworks was born. Over 500 people attended the inaugural event, held in the middle of Carolina Street between 15th and 16th Streets. The Center devoted four tables to printing “side shows,” including SFCB’s home team of Austin and Burch as the Original Printed Ladies of San Francisco, handing out typographic tattoos and the occasional kiss. Each steamroller print pulled off the street was accompanied by musical fanfare by the (clothed and costumed) Burning Band from Burning Man.

The idea behind the festival was to bring the community closer to the printing process by allowing all ages to witness, enjoy and participate in the power of printing on a grand scale. Despite the wind tunnel effect on Carolina Street that threatened to make each print take flight, the event stuck. Past board member Thacher Hurd even said it was the best day of his life!

Each artist printed three copies of their print: one for their sponsor, one for the auction later that same night, and one to keep. Some of the work from the first year created lasting impressions: Mike Bartalos’s 29 Degrees North, designed as a book in three panels, later became SFCB’s first Imprint Edition
artist book.

The second year, the event was moved to September with its more predictable weather and the printer pool grew to fifteen artists. Katherine Case, the Center’s Studio Manager, was featured in Bill Russell’s illustrated column in the San Francisco Chronicle. Roadworks 2005 featured a blind embossed “print” as well as the first multi-color print.

By 2007, Roadworks moved closer to home on De Haro Street. For the San Francisco Center for the Book’s tenth anniversary in 2007, artists were asked to incorporate the number ten into their imagery. Midway through the event, disaster hit when the key to the steamroller broke off in the ignition. Until a new steamroller was brought in a few hours later, necessity was indeed the mother of invention with a (much lighter weight) Prius substituting for the steamroller, and the printing process, augmented by hand-burnishers using metal spoons borrowed from Sally’s Restaurant at nearby 300 De Haro Street. Several weeks later, at the fundraising auction and gala dinner, Rik Olson’s steamroller print raised over $2000!

In 2009, Roadworks whittled down the roster of participating artists and moved to pleasant and nearly windless Rhode Island Street – where the San Francisco Center for the Book is now located (as of 2013) – there the event really took wings, attracting over 5,000 attendees.a

Roadworks has a way of cementing friendships and forging new acquaintances. In addition to artists involved, more than sixty book arts vendors have plied their wares to thousands of attendees. Although other communities host steamroller printing events, the San Francisco Center for the Book is the only organization that pulls off making gallery-quality steamroller prints. This is due to the superb artists who participate coupled with the expertise of the SFCB Staff. Master printmaker Brad Robinson and longtime SFCB board member J. Curtiss Taylor have both hit the streets with us every year, along with fifty print production volunteers (divided into clean-hands and inky-hands). A special thanks goes to Cindy Shamban of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency for awarding our permit and re-routing the MUNI buses for us every year.

To date, over sixty different images have been printed by steamrollers in the Potrero Hill streets surrounding San Francisco Center for the Book. Press on!