In 1997, Michelle Dreher moved to Kansas City, Missouri to attend the Kansas City Art Institute where she would have her first experience with a Vandercook SP15 press. She immediately fell in love with its precision and simplistic mechanisms. After graduating, she worked at a local letterpress shop where she was able to further hone her skills. In 2005, she left that job and started Two Tone Press in the industrial West Bottoms district of Kansas City. The studio began with a non-motorized Vandercook No. 3, 10×15 Chandler and Price, and a handful of type cabinets on the top floor of a large and drafty warehouse building.
It was a slow road to building up the studio and after five years, with the help of her supportive family, Michelle was able to purchase a two-story commercial building in a soon-to-be up and coming neighborhood. Finally in a space with heating and air conditioning, Michelle began shaping the studio into what she envisioned. Her sister, Angie, who had frequently visited and assisted with the studio over the years, permanently moved to Kansas City in 2011 to become a full time partner at Two Tone Press. Her background in business become invaluable in helping the studio grow.
Together, this sister team has designed numerous wedding invitations, posters, and business cards as well as packaging for local soap and jewelry makers. When time allows, they create relief art prints and cards for their storefront. Their aesthetic revolves around a light-hearted sense of humor as well as a great love for fantasy and sci-fi genres expressed through bold colors and layers. The sisters work together on concepts and compositions and Michelle brings the images to life by hand carving linoleum blocks.
While developing Two Tone Press, Michelle has also taught part time at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art and after almost 20 years, she even returned to teach at the Kansas City Art Institute using the very same Vandercook she first learned to use.
Guided by this love of teaching and printmaking, Michelle and Angie along with another printmaker, Ani Volkan, started Print League KC in the back half of the studio in 2017. A community printshop, Print League became their educational umbrella under which beginners interested in printmaking processes such as letterpress, silkscreen, and etching could take workshops and learn more. The shop also has membership opportunities to give experienced printmakers access to equipment and a space to create work. Opening up their studio space has been their way of giving back to the community.