Andrew Hoyem

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Andrew Hoyem (born 1935) is a typographer, letterpress printer, publisher, poet, and preservationist. He is the founder and was the director of Arion Press in San Francisco until his retirement in October 2018. Arion Press "is considered the nation's leading publisher of fine-press books," according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune.[1] Arion Press "carries on a grand legacy of San Francisco printers and bookmakers," according to Michael Kimmelman of The New York Times.[2]

As a publisher, Hoyem has focused on creating limited-edition books of notable literature illustrated with original prints from prominent artists, including Jim Dine, Robert Motherwell, Jasper Johns, John Baldessari, Richard Diebenkorn, Wayne Thiebaud, Alex Katz, Martin Puryear, and Kiki Smith. Hoyem has published such contemporary writers as Seamus Heaney, Robert Alter, Tom Stoppard, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, David Mamet, and Helen Vendler.

Hoyem summarized his career in an interview with Elizabeth Farnsworth of the PBS-TV NewsHour with Jim Lehrer: "I started out by having a combined interest in literature and visual arts, and enjoyed drawing as well as writing poetry, and those two interests really came to one in the making of books by hand."[3]


Hoyem was born in 1935 in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. He graduated from Pomona College and served in the U.S. Navy.[4] In 1961 he became a partner with Dave Haselwood in The Auerhahn Press, a small literary press that published Beat Generation writers. In 1966 he formed Grabhorn-Hoyem in partnership with Robert Grabhorn, the surviving proprietor of the Grabhorn Press, which he established in 1920 with his brother, Edwin. After Grabhorn's death in 1973, Hoyem re-formed the company as the Arion Press, taking its name from the Greek poet of legend who was saved by a dolphin. Since 1975, he has published more than 80 limited-edition books under the Arion Press imprint, including Melville's Moby-Dick, Joyce's Ulysses, and a folio Bible.

The scholar James D. Hart, writing in Fine Printing: The San Francisco Tradition,[5] characterized Hoyem's books "as marked by an unusual inventiveness", praising the handset folio edition of Moby-Dick as a "majestic volume", among Arion's "virtuoso performances". According to Biblio magazine, "Many authorities rank this edition of Moby-Dick as one of the two or three greatest American fine-press books." [6]

Hoyem's most ambitious project is the Folio Bible, with production extending over several years. This is likely to be the last Bible to be printed from metal type,[7] following in the tradition of large-format Bibles printed from movable type that extends from Johannes Gutenberg through John Baskerville, the Doves Press, and the Oxford Lectern Bible, designed by Bruce Rogers. The Christian Science Monitor reported that "From melting the lead, to proofreading, to physically lifting 40-pound frames of type, the consensus of Andrew Hoyem, as publisher of the Arion Press, and his small crew of eight craftspeople, is that a hand-wrought Bible is intrinsically valuable”.[8]

In 1989 Arion acquired Mackenzie & Harris, the oldest and largest remaining type foundry in the United States, established with equipment displayed at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in 1915. In 2000 the future of the type foundry and letterpress operations was threatened by eviction, requiring the logistical challenge and expense of moving over 140 tons of equipment and metal type to a suitable new facility. In response, Hoyem founded the nonprofit Grabhorn Institute to help preserve and continue the operation of one of the last integrated facilities for typefounding, letterpress printing, and bookbinding, developing it as a living museum and educational and cultural center, open to the public, with a gallery and tours as well as an apprenticeship program. The press and foundry relocated to the Presidio of San Francisco as a cultural tenant. In 2000 the hot-metal typecasting and letterpress printing operation was designated by the National Trust for Historic Preservation as part of "the nation's irreplaceable historical and cultural legacy" under its Save America's Treasures program.[9]


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