MADISON (WKOW) -- The best and brightest of the art world can often be found visiting UW Madison's Tandem Press.
They come for a special opportunity they can't find anywhere else.
Those who work there know that operating a printing press can be a challenge both physically and mentally.
"I've been doing this for 20 years and you never know everything you need to know."
But, for the master printers and interns at Tandem Press, that's what it's all about.... learning something new every time they press the ink.
This is where some of the country's greatest artists come for a unique opportunity.
"I think people don't realize how complicated handmade prints are," says Paula Panczenko, Tandem Press Director, "and how much the artists work with the master printers and how much of a collaboration it is."
That's why they call it Tandem Press.
The artists can spend a week or two working with master printers on their project.
One of the things artists like so much about Tandem press is the opportunity to experiment. For instance, David Lynch wanted just a bit of color in a piece he made, so he went out and got a bunch of used coffee grounds and spread it all over the piece. It's the kind of experiment that can only take happen at a place like Tandem Press.
In addition, the artists appreciate the rare interaction with young art students who jump at the chance to intern in a place that brings in the masters.
"That's the biggest difference between our press and any other press," says Panczenko, "We use students to the extent that we do."
And the interns are always busy helping the master printers.
Some of the print jobs can be huge, and labor intensive.
"I'll have 64 sheets of paper and hopefully by 5:00. And tomorrow, I'll do plate number two another color and run all 64 sheets again." says Master Printer Andy Rubin, "20 different days, 5 days a week. That's a month of printing to get to the end."
Tandem Press began in 1987.
Its unique prints have been displayed in some of the most prestigious museums in the world.
It's completely self sustaining thanks to great artists who come every year for a cooperative effort that's Positively Wisconsin.
The Tandem Press is the brainchild of artist Bill Weege.
Before beginning Tandem, he had a press in a barn where artists were known to apply ink to paper with a shotgun.
It's that kind of creativity the Tandem Press still strives to foster.