Jacob Scott Johnson

Moonfort Meditations


From 1994 - 2015, the second story of the carriage house behind 916 W. Franklin St. served as the screen-printing studio for the VCUarts Department of Graphic Design.

For decades, the humble, yet much adored facility served an extracurricular hangout for juniors and seniors of the Department. The Moon Fort, as it was endearingly named, was a safe space in the historic Fan District for fledgling creatives to socialize and collaborate, by participating in the painstakingly time-consuming analog printing method. At a time when designers were learning how to mend and weaponize the medium of Graphic Design, the Moon Fort served as kindling for the spark of design thinking. 

Between the stressful rapid-fire moments of screen-printing, it was commonplace to share bottles of wine, chain smoke American Sprits on the steps, and hold anxiety-ridden conversations about the impending future while emulsion cured or screens dried to the soundtrack of lo-fi garage and surf rock. These hypnotic details were equally imperative to the success of the printing process, as a means for students to steady themselves before turning on to the unparalleled level of focus and discipline screen-printing demands. Equally engaging as it was addictive, the meditative state of screen-printing at The Moon Fort coincided with a willingness to experiment until the designer achieved near perfection.

It is estimated that from the time of its founding, The Moon Fort bore witness to over sixteen trillion screen-prints, each unique and beautifully variant.

The following prints were experiments made at the Moon Fort in the Spring Semester of 2015, the last semester that The Moon Fort was in use before the studio was moved to its current location at 417 W. Broad St.