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Andrew Hoyem, Publisher

Andrew Hoyem, printer and publisher, beside a Thompson Laureate olaten press, 1989.

The creative spirit of Arion Press is Andrew Hoyem, who founded the press in 1974. Considered one of the most accomplished printers of today, Hoyem is also a published poet and exhibited artist who occasionally includes his own writings and drawings in Arion books. The concepts for all Arion publications originate with Hoyem, who chooses literary texts, commissions new work from writers and artists he admires, and designs the books, including their bindings and typography. In the Press's livre d'artiste series, he has worked closely with distinguished artists, many of whom come to the Press in San Francisco to work with him on projects.

Born in 1935 in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, to second-generation Norwegian parents, Hoyem graduated from Pomona College and served in the U. S. Navy. Upon settling in San Francisco in 1961, he became involved with the avant-garde literature of that time. During the early 1960s, he was a partner in the Auerhahn Press, the publisher of such Beat Generation writers as John Weiners, Michael McClure, William Burroughs, Philip Lamantia, Philip Whalen, and Charles Olsen, and he designed several of the books written by his friend Richard Brautigan.

In 1966, Hoyem went into partnership with the legendary San Francisco fine printer Robert Grabhorn, then 66 years old, whose Grabhorn Press had operated from 1920 to 1965. It was under the tutelage of Grabhorn that Hoyem, who had no formal training in the craft, began to acquire his knowledge of printing history. Grabhorn-Hoyem specialized in typographical design, fine printing, and the publication of limited edition books, among them a celebrated edition of Allen Ginsberg's "Howl", published in 1971. They added printing equipment and the type collection from the Grabhorn Press, including historic types acquired from the famous early 20th-century San Francisco printer John Henry Nash. After Grabhorn's death in 1973, Hoyem reformed the company as the Arion Press, taking its name from the Greek poet of legend who was saved by a dolphin.

At Arion Press, Hoyem has continued the San Francisco tradition of fine typography and high-quality bookmaking, as in his handset folio edition of Moby-Dick. In addition, he has gone beyond this tradition by experimenting with unusual forms and incorporating work by contemporary artists in his books. The scholar James D. Hart, writing in Fine Printing: The San Francisco Tradition, has characterized Hoyem's books "as marked by an unusual inventiveness", praising Moby Dick as a "majestic volume", among Arion's "virtuoso performances".

In the 1980s, Hoyem expanded into the genre of the livre d'artiste, producing deluxe editions containing prints by such noted artists as Jim Dine, Robert Motherwell, Jasper Johns, Ida Applebroog, John Baldessari, Richard Diebenkorn, and Wayne Thiebaud. Arion editions are collected by individuals, museums such as the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and libraries, including the British Library, the Huntington Library, and the Library of Congress. They have been the subject of many exhibitions and were featured in the 1995 "A Century of Artists Books" exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art.

In 1989, Hoyem purchased Mackenzie & Harris, the oldest and largest surviving typefoundry in America, employing its trained typesetters as part of his staff of ten. Hoyem runs Arion Press and M & H Type as a self-sustaining business that includes publishing, typography, printing, and custom design services. His publishing program is not subsidized by grants or patronage, but survives though hard work and the conviction that excellence will find an audience.

Hoyem has published five books of poetry, including Picture Poems and What If, published by Arion Press. For Arion he has provided illustrations for Pale Fire by Vladimir Nabokov, How I came to be governor of the island of Cacona by Francis Thistleton, Flatland by Edwin Abbott Abbott, and Venus and Adonis by William Shakespeare. A one-person exhibition of his drawings was held at the Legion of Honor Museum of San Francisco in 1975. He is a member of the Grolier Club of New York and the Roxburghe Club of San Francisco and has lectured on fine printing at Oxford University, the University of Pennsylvania, the Huntington Library, and for many other university, museum, and book-collecting audiences.

For more information:

  • “Andrew Hoyem of Arion Press: Champion of Literary Artistry”, by Carol Grossman, Biblio magazine, September 1997. A PDF is available.
  • Andrew Hoyem entry at Wikipedia.

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