Big Fag Press is an artist-run printing collective in Sydney, Australia. We have an amazing offset proof-press, called “The Big Fag”, which can produce excellent large-scale prints in limited editions, up to B1 size.
Who are we?
Big Fag Press is run by a bunch of enthusiastic artists who love to collaborate:
- Pat Armstrong
- Diego Bonetto
- Lucas Ihlein
- Louise Kate Anderson
- Tim Barbarino
- Clementine Barnes
- John Demos
- Mickie Quick (on hiatus – honorary founding member)
How did we get hold of The Big Fag in the first place?
Big beauties like our Big Fag have been deemed commercially unviable all over the western world. They have been getting shipped to India or China, or failing such entrepreneurialism, to the local scrap-metal yard.
The Big Fag is an offset proof press. Offset printing has not yet been beaten by digital printing, the latter having nowhere near the quality of the former. However, in the cut-throat world of graphic design, the time and care it takes to produce a proof print on an offset press has been sacrificed to make way for quick digital proofs. Printed on machines that take up one twentieth of the space, proof printing is now just a quick means to check alignments and spellings in the design.
In 2004, one unfortunate printer in Sydenham (an inner-Sydney suburb) didn’t see this change coming, and went bust. The liquidation auction was very sad. Nobody wanted his equipment despite the large number of print professionals in the room. Instead, they just picked over the carcasses of his office furniture.
Having received a tip off from our local Master Printer, Jens Hausch, Big Fag Press attended the auction and placed the winning (and only) bid on the big beautiful FAG 104 Offset Proof Press.
Our bid was fifty dollars.
The gavel came down, and to the astonishment of all in the room, the Big Fag was ours. Immediately, our bidder, Mickie, was surrounded by old printing gentlemen, who were curious as to how any commercial use of this machine could be possible. One ol’ timer shuffled over, sized him up, and said “I guess we’re gonna see your handywork on telegraph poles all around town, eh?”
Although cheap to buy, The Big Fag sure aint cheap to transport. Our first real expense was hoiking the 4 tonne beast into our warehouse, “The Barn”, in Alexandria.
Ever since, we’ve been getting intimate with the Big Fag, thanks to lessons from our guru Jens Hausch, and the patience and goodwill of all the artists who we’ve been priveleged to work with.
While the press is not “commercially viable” for high volumes or “everyday job printing”, it’s been a real boon for artists and activists in our networks.
The Next Big Fag Chapter…
In 2010, we moved The Big Fag to The Woolloomooloo Depot, a facility owned by City of Sydney and administered by First Draft Gallery. Our printing adventures with the local community in Woolloomooloo included the project Green Bans Art Walks in 2011, as well as various emerging and accessible artist residency programmes.
Glebe: The final frontier
In 2014, we made the move to Glebe, where you find us now – and hopefully for a long time to come. Our new home is in a vaulted space under the light rail viaduct at Jubilee Park. A lovely spot next to the Glebe Hockey Club, Footy Club, and Mens Shed. Big thanks to the City of Sydney’s Accommodation Grants Scheme for this great venue.
We now have a much better understanding of how to sweet-talk The Big Fag into giving us his (or her?) best printed results. We’ve done a bunch of great collaborations, and are excited about the next… say… FIFTY years of printily service to come!
If you are interested in buying some of our prints, you might want to read our Terms and Conditions.