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Amos Paul Kennedy Jr.

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Amos Paul Kennedy Jr.
The artist with inky hands at a "Pull-a-Print" event in Wisconsin, 2010.
Lafayette, Louisiana
EducationMFA, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1997
BS Mathematics, Grambling State University, Louisiana, 1972[1]
RelativesAmos III (son), Adric (son)

Amos Paul Kennedy Jr. (born 1948) is an American printer, book artist and papermaker best known for social and political commentary, particularly in printed posters.[2] One critic noted that Kennedy is "...unafraid of asking uncomfortable questions about race and artistic pretension."[3]



From an early age, Kennedy was interested in letters and books and studied calligraphy for several years.[4] At the age of 40, Kennedy visited Colonial Williamsburg, a Virginia living history museum, and was mesmerized by an 18th-century print shop and book bindery demonstration. The incident so influenced that he studied printing at a community-based letterpress shop in Chicago[5] and, within a year quit his AT&T systems analyst job, which he had held for nearly two decades, to continue printmaking studies.[6]

Kennedy articulated his fascination with letterpress printing in one interview: "... I believe it was the capability of making multiples. Multiples of text are important to me. They allow for distribution."[6]

He attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison, studied under legendary book designer Walter Hamady, and earned an MFA in 1997. He later taught graphic design at the Henry Radford Hope School of Fine Arts at Indiana University.[7][8] His letterpress poster shop, Kennedy Prints, is located in Detroit, Michigan.[9]


Kennedy operates a press while three people watch.
Kennedy teaching a letterpress printing workshop at Washington University in St. Louis during the 2011 SGC International conference

Kennedy creates prints, posters and postcards from handset wood and metal type, oil-based inks, and eco-friendly and affordable chipboard. Many of the posters are inspired by proverbs, sayings, and quotes Kennedy locates or potential clients provide.[8]

Using hand presses, he "produces large editions of wildly colourful, typographically-driven posters on inexpensive chipboard stock, posters which are often so riotously layered with vibrant colours of ink as to retain a wet iridescence and tackiness years after they were printed. His working method often involves overprinting multiple layers of text ...resulting in no two prints being truly identical."[10]

Residencies, Exhibitions, and Awards


Kennedy has been hosted as an artist-in-residence at a number of institutions, including the Minnesota Center for Book Arts,[11] Virginia Center for the Book at the University of Virginia,[12] BookLab at the University of Maryland,[13] and the Wells College Book Arts Center,[14] among many others.

His work has been exhibited at a range of museums, galleries, and libraries, including the Bainbridge Island Museum of Art,[15] the Museum of Modern Art Library,[16] the Institute for Contemporary Art at Virginia Commonwealth University,[17] and the Indiana University Bloomington Fine Arts Library.[18] In addition, his work is held in the permanent collections of the Poster House,[19] the New York Center for Book Arts,[20] and the Letterform Archive.[21]

In 2015, Kennedy was honored as a United States Artists Glasgow Fellow in Crafts and received a $50,000 unrestricted prize.[22] He was named the Individual Laureate by the American Printing History Association in 2021,[23] and the Outstanding Printmaker Awardee from the Mid Atlantic Print Council in 2022.[24]

Archival Collections

Colorful letterpress posters for "St Louis Microfest" spread out on a table alongside ink and other printing materials.
Letterpress posters by Amos Paul Kennedy Jr.
  • Amos Kennedy Print Collection, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. Collection of posters and prints cover social subjects of Civil Rights, presidential campaigns, voting, performing arts (music, film, theater), art, books, handcrafts etc. 286 items.[25]
  • Kennedy & Sons Collection, Emory University, Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library, Atlanta, GA.[26] Collection from Kennedy & Sons, Fine Printers (African American commercial printing business), 1990–2015, 6.5 linear ft. (11 boxes) and oversized papers.
  • Amos Paul Kennedy Jr. collection Printers, UC Santa Barbara Library, Special Collection, Santa Barbara, CA.[27] Letterpress posters, broadsides, postcards, fans, publications and clippings, 1997–2013, 50.62 linear feet.
  • Amos Paul Kennedy, Jr. collection, Rare Book and Manuscript Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL.[28] Letterpress prints including posters, business cards, broadsides, fans, and maps as well as publications and clippings, 2000–2019, 17 boxes.
  • Amos Paul Kennedy Jr. ephemera collection, Modern Manuscripts and Archives, the Newberry Library. Letterpress posters, paper fans, broadsides, greetings cards, and other ephemera dating from 1990 through approximately 2012. 2.7 linear feet, 2 boxes.[29]

Selected bibliography

  • Kennedy Jr., Amos Paul (1992), How Wisdom Came to the World, Jubilee Press (Oak Park, Illinois), OCLC 29590990
  • Kennedy Jr., Amos Paul (1994), Strange Fruit: Words Protesting Lynchings and Burnings, Jubilee Press (Oak Park, Illinois), OCLC 30697930
  • Kennedy Jr., Amos Paul (1995), 67 children murdered in Chicagoland in 1994, OCLC 56896180
  • Kennedy Jr., Amos Paul (1996), Juneteenth day 1996 : freedom, OCLC 55081932
  • Kennedy Jr., Amos Paul (1997), Generosity, Jubilee Press (Oak Park, Illinois), OCLC 37211424
  • Kennedy Jr., Amos Paul (2000), Kwanzaa is a way of life that we celebrate! (miniature book), OCLC 47211040
  • Kennedy Jr., Amos Paul (2000), Mask, OCLC 44900076
  • Kennedy Jr., Amos Paul (2001), I build books for the glory of my peoples!, ARLIS/NA series, no. 4., Kennedy & Sons, Fine Printers, OCLC 47203674
  • Campos, Alexander; Kennedy Jr., Amos Paul (2009), Racism: An American Family Value (exhibit catalog), The Center for Book Arts, OCLC 689066693


  1. ^ Curtin, Michael. "Amos Paul Kennedy Jr.: Proceeding Boldly". Smile Politely. Retrieved 8 April 2018.
  2. ^ Amos Paul Kennedy, Jr.: Citizen Printer. Letterform Archive Books. 2024. ISBN 9781736863381.
  3. ^ A.C. "Just "a humble Negro printer"". The Economist. Retrieved 3 September 2017.
  4. ^ "Stop Calling Yourself a Creative | Communication Arts". Communication Arts. 4 July 2017. Retrieved 3 September 2017.
  5. ^ Kennedy, Jr., Amos Paul (4 July 2017). "Stop Calling Yourself a Creative | Communication Arts". Communication Arts. Retrieved 4 September 2017.
  6. ^ a b "Amos Kennedy Jr.: From Corporate Analyst To Modern-Day Artisan". 99U by Behance. 13 February 2017. Retrieved 4 September 2017.
  7. ^ Steeves, Andrew. "Print! Amos Kennedy, Jr. & the Fine Art of Rabblerousery". Retrieved 4 September 2017.
  8. ^ a b Fields, Monique (Jan 2012). "Words to Live By". American Craft Council. Retrieved 4 September 2017.
  9. ^ "Who We Are • Amos P. Kennedy Jr". Partners in Print. Retrieved 2023-11-03.
  10. ^ Steeves, Andrew. "Print! Amos Kennedy, Jr. & the Fine Art of Rabblerousery". Retrieved 4 September 2017.
  11. ^ Robbins, Andrea (2017-05-27). "Printer-in-Residence: Amos Paul Kennedy, Jr". Minnesota Center for Book Arts. Retrieved 2023-11-03.
  12. ^ "Amos Paul Kennedy, Jr. Residency Recap". Virginia Center for the Book. 2019-04-01. Retrieved 2023-11-03.
  13. ^ "Petrou Artist in Residence: Amos Kennedy @BookLab". University of Maryland College of Arts and Humanities. Retrieved 2023-11-03.
  14. ^ "Amos Kennedy at Wells!". Wells Book Arts Center. 2019-03-20. Retrieved 2023-11-03.
  15. ^ "Amos Paul Kennedy, Jr.: Rosa Parks Series". Bainbridge Island Museum of Art. Retrieved 2023-11-03.
  16. ^ "Amos Paul Kennedy, Jr.: Quotations of Rosa Louise Parks and Church Fans". Museum of Modern Art. January 9, 2017.
  17. ^ "Amos Paul Kennedy Jr.: Passin' on to others". Institute for Contemporary Art. Retrieved 2023-11-03.
  18. ^ "Exhibit: Prints and Artists' Books from Amos Paul Kennedy, Jr., Printmaker: A Selection from the Fine Arts Library | Indiana University Libraries". Indiana University Libraries / Arts & Humanities. 2016-02-02. Retrieved 2023-11-03.
  19. ^ Lippert, Angelina (2023-02-28). "Amos Paul Kennedy Jr. and the Democracy of Printing". Hyperallergic. Retrieved 2023-11-03.
  20. ^ "Center for Book Arts Archive : Amos Paul Kennedy Jr". Center for Book Arts. Retrieved 2023-11-03.
  21. ^ Coles, Stephen (2018-06-26). "This Just In: Amos Kennedy Jr". Letterform Archive. Retrieved 2023-11-03.
  22. ^ "Amos Paul Kennedy". United States Artists. Archived from the original on 25 September 2016. Retrieved 4 September 2017.
  23. ^ Announcement (2021-01-05). "APHA's 2021 Awards Recipients Named". American Printing History Association. Retrieved 2023-11-03.
  24. ^ "MAPC Power of Print". MAPC Power of Print. Retrieved 2023-11-03.
  25. ^ "[Amos Kennedy print collection]". Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. 20540 USA. Retrieved 2023-11-03.
  26. ^ Kennedy & Sons, Fine Printers (16 November 2007). "Kennedy & Sons collection". findingaids.library.emory.edu. Retrieved 4 September 2017.
  27. ^ "Guide to the Amos Paul Kennedy Jr. collection Printers Mss 83". oac.cdlib.org. Retrieved 4 September 2017.
  28. ^ "Amos Paul Kennedy, Jr. Digital Collection". digital.library.illinois.edu. Retrieved 2 March 2020.
  29. ^ "Collection: Amos Paul Kennedy Jr. ephemera collection". Modern Manuscripts & Archives at the Newberry. Retrieved 2023-11-03.