Norman at the Vandercook

I was born in West Hollywood, California, in 1937. My parents moved at least once a year, sometimes back & forth between towns. My longest stints in any one place were Big Bear Lake, California from 1944-1948 & Bend, Oregon, from 1952 to about 1960. My high school years were divided between lovely Central Oregon & challenged San Joaquin County. I was at the University of Oregon while it was still a small but outstanding school of 4000 with an amazing library. I spent a year as a student teacher in Paris, France, my first time away from home. Such luck has not followed me since. In my advanced antiquity I operate a private letterpress studio in Berkeley, California, where I have lived for over forty years & where I am presently doing some photography again. My intellectual & aesthetic sensibilities were formed in the high mountains of Big Bear Valley before it was ruined by development; where there were still pristine alpine meadows, a pioneer who lived in a log cabin in an Eastern valley named after him. I grew up on the stories of old people about ancient times, including the desert isolationists living in houses they had built from old bottles & river rock. For this I have always maintained a love of vernacular architecture & culture. My own grandfather had a mine (from which he got nothing but the solace of solitude, & I was a peaceful & quiet companion) in the Panamint Range of the Mojave Desert. The world got much bigger when I was at University in Oregon, & once I discovered the earth wasn’t flat after all I began to reach out. I’m still reaching.

— Norman McKnight