Inside Tholepin Press: Paul Geiger’s Small Printmaking Studio has a Big History

. January 11, 2017.

Take a drive north on Summit Street, beyond Lagrange, and you’ll find an area of Toledo that is seemingly long forgotten. But look twice, and you just might find one of our city’s oldest and longest standing artist colonies.

Tholepin Press, headed by master printmaker and graphic artist Paul Geiger, has been around since the early ‘90s. Outside, the studio appears to be an abandoned building at the corner of Elm and Summit, but a paper sign on the door points you to the fourth floor, where a tight-knit community flourishes with Northwest Ohio’s longest-running weekly drawing class.

The name says it all

A tholepin is a device that holds the oars of a rowboat in place: “You can’t row a boat without one,” explained Geiger. “For me, a tholepin depicts the facilitation of creativity— it makes it easier.” Without that structure, you lose control over your art.

Inside the studio, Geiger maintains hidden gems. The studio houses many pieces of vintage printing gear, including two old-school lithographic presses. “We got them from Detroit, but they’re modeled after the original lithographs used by the famous French printmaker Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec”, said Geiger.

A Toledo native, Geiger graduated with a masters in printmaking from the Pratt institute in 1981 and has been living and working at the now named Tholepin Press ever since.

Among other artifacts housed inside the building are early sketches of the mural at the Valentine Theatre which Geiger is credited with creating. “Backstage at the Valentine Theatre,” unveiled in 2008, pays tribute to many of the Theatre’s early performers.

Classes For The Serious Artist

This is “a place for the serious artist,” explained Geiger. “The courses we offer are rigorous. I take my work seriously and I expect the same from my students.”

Unlike workshops that focus on the social experience, “we teach the artist to draw what they see,” said Geiger.

While etching and printmaking classes are conducted periodically, Tholepin Press consistently offers a drawing classes. Since 1990, the studio has hosted a weekly class, every Wednesday from 6-9pm, where students practice drawing nude models. Bring your own materials. $10/adults, $7/university students with a current ID, $3/high school students with parental permission. Parking is free.

Tholepin Press | 210 Elm St., Toledo |
419-243-4944 |