Our story

Signal-Return opened its doors in Eastern Market in the winter of 2011. Inspired by the art and craft coming out of some of the best letterpress shops in the country, the 3,000-square-foot studio and storefront sought to open the local community’s eyes to the wonder of press-work.

Word quickly spread, and workshops began to fill up. Presses churned. Soon, we were saddle-stitched into the fiber of Eastern Market.

If you stop by to visit us on a Saturday, you’ll find people browsing the work of local artisans whose wares we sell in our shop. There will be artists cranking the presses – some of which date from the 19th century (the presses, not the artists). You’ll smell ink drying and hear the hypnotic clink and hum of rollers working on paper. If you happen to wander in during an event, you might hear a speaker, a musician or an author. And you might leave with a new poster under your arm or a date with a workshop in your future.

Meet the people

  • Lynne Avadenka

    Lynne is the Creative Director and Interim Operations Director of Signal-Return. An artist and a printer, she has received fellowships from The American Academy in Jerusalem, Kresge Arts in Detroit and the National Endowment for the Arts. Her work is in collections at the Detroit Institute of Arts, The Library of Congress and the British Library.

  • Toby Barlow

    The founder of Signal-Return, Toby serves as chair of the Board of Directors. Toby is also Chief Creative Officer at Team Detroit and an author whose writing has appeared in The New York Times. His novel Sharp Teeth was a winner of a 2007 Alex Award. His second novel, Babayaga, was released in August 2013. He lives in Lafayette Park, Detroit.

  • Bryan Baker

    A professional printmaker, Bryan serves as Artist Advisor. His print shop, Stukenborg Press, is located in the Corktown area of Detroit. He currently teaches at College for Creative Studies, Signal-Return, and has upcoming workshops at Ox-Bow and Penland School of Crafts.

  • Helen Ectors

    Raised in England and educated at the University College of London, Board Member Helen worked for seven years in the Development Department at London’s Royal College of Art. Prior to moving to the United States, she worked at the design consultancy IDEO. She is currently the Global Director of Creative Business at Team Detroit.

  • Don Kilpatrick, III

    Department chairperson of College for Creative Studies’ Illustration Department, Board Member Don has created illustrations for advertising, design, editorial and motion picture clients. He has received numerous awards in illustration and was involved in the design of the medal for the Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City.

  • Michael Stone-Richards

    A Professor of Critical Theory at College for Creative Studies, Board Member Michael is deeply immersed in the Detroit arts community and involved in organizations ranging from the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit to the Detroit Institute of Arts. He is the founder-editor of the recently launched Detroit Research: a Journal of Thought and Practice.