Sven Olaf Nelson

Sven Olaf Nelson

Founder & Letterpress Enthusiast at Pineapple Press & Design

May 12, 2020


Pineapple Press & Design


Tell us more about some of your past projects?

Collaborating with brides & grooms to make their vision come to life for their wedding invitations. Each one is totally unique, which is a great creative challenge for me. I like mixing old tools that I have in a way couples aren’t even aware of.

Printing my first type specimen poster and having my Instagram followers help me identify the font I was using, which was Plymouth. I like it in my collection because large it is and how full my collection of it is.

Being asked to play a role in the Christmas services at CedarCreek Church in Perrysburg. They featured my letterpress studio & prints in their marketing material. I also played a character in their short film and set up a small letterpress show in the lobby to print cards during the multiple services.

Offering letterpress workshops at Fuller Art House in Sylvania. I didn’t really know what I was getting into or if the participants would enjoy it. I’ve learned a lot since my first workshop and look forward to more in the future. 

What current projects are you working on?

I’ve been working a lot lately on posters that can offer inspiration and hope to people.

Printing as many of my new-to-me letterpress plates - usually old advertising or type faces - as possible. I want to find a way to use them in a way they weren’t intended.

Experimenting with non-traditional letterpress materials. I letterpressed on a t-shirt the other day, just to see what would happen. I have also used Styrofoam, bubble wrap, paper, wood blocks, and plywood to print with.

Secret Project: Designing a book to be published later this year

What advantages does being in Northwest Ohio/Toledo offer your efforts?

I like the work ethic and the craftsman heritage of this area. There’s a rich history of commercial printing, and I’ve enjoyed learning about it. Back in the day, every local company would have used or hired letterpress printers for their stationery and advertising needs. When I attend local art fairs, I love talking to people who have a part of that history in their own story.

Tell us about one of your greatest successes.

Success to me is when I master something challenging. For me, that is best shown in my “What is Your Life’s Blueprint?” by Dr. Martin Luther King broadside. To date, that was the most type I had ever hand-set. I also was printing different angles at the same time. When everything is normally on 90-degree angles, it’s hard to now print something at a 30-degree angle at the same time with the right amount of pressure holding it all together.

My biggest social media success was that I recently sold out of a poster before I had ever printed it - my “Find Beauty in the Chaos” Pied Type poster. I started logging the story of this pied type poster that I was making (thanks to some friends who had given me some shoe boxes of type). People started to follow the story and bought the poster before it was printed. It was great to see their “unboxing” posts. It really felt like it came full circle.

Tell us who or what gives you inspiration?

I can find inspiration in a lot of different ways, but my wife is the constant drumbeat that pushes me to do things and be bold about it.

Tell us about your background.

Originally from Madison, Wisconsin, area, I went to Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana, and have a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design with an emphasis in Photography and Creative Writing. I began printing while at Ball State. I began my print shop in 2001 with a small table-top proof press and a few drawers of type.

I named my shop Pineapple Press in honor of my grandfathers nickname – Pine.

I moved to the Toledo area in 2003 with my wife when her job transferred us here.

My “9 to 5” is a Senior Graphic Designer at a local consulting firm, Root, Inc. I call Pineapple Press & Design my “5 to 9” as I’m often working in my studio nights & weekends. I currently have cards in a local galleries, offer workshops, print custom stationery and invitations, and have a storefront on Etsy.

Do you have a motto or favorite quote you try to live by?

“Every action has an equal & opposite reaction.” I try to look at a negative situation and flip it to what positive effects it can have on me.

Favorite place for local culture?

Depending on the season, a Mud Hens or Walleye game.

Toledo’s “best kept secret” is . . . 

The Toledo Museum of Art. Every visit is different. I love the Cloister gallery.My favorite place to chill locally is my own backyard. During the last few months, we have “Friday Night Take-Out” from all local restaurants.

My favorite natural space in the Toledo area
is . . . 

one of our Metroparks. I love the towpath at Bend View, camping in Oak Openings, and walking the trails in Secor and Wildwood.

When I’m not working hard, I can always be found . . .

traveling. Whether it’s nearby or around the world, I love to travel and find new off-the-beaten-path gems.

If you could change anything about the current landscape for creative, progressive people
 . . . 

In our Pinterest world, it’s so easy to “like” something but never understand what it takes to make that final product. So, then when you do see those items in galleries and fairs, you think it’s priced too high. I want more understanding, appreciation, and - in turn - more buyers for those creative products & services.

Any exciting collaborations (past or present) you would like to tell us about?

Greg Justus (local modern impressionism painter) and I are talking about a collaboration where I try to print over his paintings and vice-versa.

Name one person (living or deceased) who you would love to collaborate with.

Dave Brubeck for album art, using his different rhythms and time signatures to influence the visual rhythms.

Name a CD, book or website you can’t live without.

“Time Out” by Dave Brubeck on vinyl, of course

3 words that best describe me or my work

(1) font geek (2) antiquated technology enthusiast - letterpress, cameras, record players, etc, and (3) simple and little off…

Give us 5 Desert Island Album picks.

Dave Brubeck - Time Out

Beastie Boys - Hello Nasty

U2 - Boy

Lord Huron - Lonesome Dreams

Jack White - Lazaretto

My biggest vice is

collecting too much font. I have over 300 drawers in my basement and itching for more.

I’d like to see more restaurants on the Maumee River / outdoor dining in Toledo.

What’s the last dream you recall having?
I never remember them.

The last lyric that moved me was

“Brother” by Lord Huron

How long have I known you, brother

Hundreds of lives, thousands of years

How many miles have we wandered

Under the sky, chasing our fear

One movie character I identify with

Max Goldman from “Grumpy Old Men”

The best gift I’ve ever received . . . 

Was the original 1986 Def Jam pressing of “License to Ill” by the Beastie Boys. I had it since I was a kid, but in all our moves, we lost track of it. My wife, who doesn’t share my love of vinyl, surprised me with it.

My most inspiring moment was/is
. . .

walking up the steps to my wedding reception and hearing “The A Train” being played by the jazz combo. Ever since, that song has symbolized the start of that next chapter.

I want my last meal to be . . .

a cheeseburger & fries at the park cafe in Washington-Slagbaii National Park in Bonaire, Netherlands Antilles. (You just have to try it - it is amazing. The view isn’t bad either).

Instagram: @leaddite



Back to All Creative Natives