Paid Apprenticeships in Typecasting, Bookbinding and Letterpress Printing

The apprenticeship program is the heart of our press. All of our expert craftspeople are graduates of the program. Our historic bookmaking processes require years of practical application to master; the work requires passion and discipline in equal parts. Apprentices commit to a period of at least two years, wherein they learn their craft through hands-on work. Apprentices also participate in the Grabhorn Institute’s public educational programming.

We rely on our antique equipment, and the people who can operate it, to help us with our mission to preserve these crafts for future generations. We welcome new colleagues who are excited to be a part of a long tradition of printing, book arts, and manufacturing in the Bay Area.

Typecasting Apprenticeship Available

During the first two years, apprentices will help cast type for Arion Press books as well as composition work and fonts for customers. They will learn to set up, operate, monitor, repair, and maintain the incredibly intricate typecasting equipment. In the second two years, apprentices will continue to develop their skills more independently and have the opportunity to learn some of the more unique casting equipment.

Tasks include:
-Maintenance, repair, and cleaning of hot metal type casting equipment
-Setting up casters for in-house and customer orders
-Wrapping type and packaging it for shipping
-General filing and admin work including phone and email answering
-Inventory and cataloguing

-Proven mechanical ability and aptitude
-Able to stand for extended periods of time, reach overhead and below the knees, including bending, twisting, pulling, stooping, and kneeling
-Able to move, lift, carry, push, pull, and place objects weighing up to 50 pounds
-Able to ascend/descend ladders
-Able to perform repetitive tasks for many hours/days
-Able to learn technical material from manuals and direct instruction
-Able to wear protective clothing including coveralls and protective footwear
-Able to work as a collaborative team with colleagues
-High school diploma/GED

Preferred Qualifications:
-Understanding of/experience with letterpress printing techniques and metal type
-At least one year of full-time work experience, ideally in a production/manufacturing environment
-Familiarity with safety protocols

It is light industrial work in a metal shop, and the ideal candidate will have mechanical aptitude and be comfortable working around machinery. While there are occasional opportunities to learn basic letterpress printing skills, the primary focus of the apprenticeship is in the type foundry.

The type foundry is of huge importance to the letterpress community, and to the survival of this craft. This apprenticeship is not intended to be a short-term job, but ideally a long-term commitment to our mission of teaching and training people to cast type as an important link in continuing the letterpress tradition. Because of this, and because the casting equipment is very old and complicated, it requires many hours of hands-on training in order to become an independent operator. For this reason, we ask apprentices to commit to a four-year term of employment, with the hope that people will stay on to help train future generations.

Beginning pay is $18/hr. Benefits include 5 days of vacation in the first year, 10 vacation days in the second year, 8 government holidays, paid sick leave as mandated by the city of San Francisco, Kaiser health insurance, dental coverage through Delta Dental with a partial employee contribution, plus one copy of each book worked on. We also make regular staff development excursions to local arts organizations and institutions. There is a 90-day no-questions-asked trial period during which either party may choose for any reason not to proceed, and an annual performance review should the apprenticeship move forward.

Members of the current production staff have diverse backgrounds, but we have all graduated from the apprenticeship program and share an interest in books and the rich history of bookmaking in the Bay area. If you are interested in applying, please send a resume/CV with a cover letter stating why you are interested in learning to cast metal type.

This unique opportunity is sponsored in part by a grant from SF Heritage, a local organization dedicated to preserving and enhancing San Francisco’s unique cultural identity.