Printmaking is the tops.
For me, currently, this means screen printing / silkscreen / serigraphy–the distinctions between which are semantic. I am in love with process and technique, the physical interaction of complex process with the initial intended piece. In short, getting my hands dirty is what it is all about.
At some point around 8 years ago I was making a “living” doing some combination of carpentry, architectural design and general tomfoolery. Between seasonal jobs, soon after unexpectedly getting married and realizing it might be difficult to continue living out of my truck in a tent in my brother’s yard, it seemed like a great time to decide what to do with myself. With some gentle prodding from some key people around me I applied to a local design collective, got into it somehow and started pitching myself as a designer, an artist, or a freelancer–depending on who I was talking to. At first I was imagining some utopian situation where I would be an illustrator on Monday, an architect on Tuesdays & Fridays and then fill in the middle with mind blowing fine art. Also, throughout all of these days people would pay be graciously for my efforts. If I learned anything it was that the path I had chosen would not be linear or simple, but I did feel like somewhere in the creative world there was a place for me–still today what exactly that place is eludes me, but it’s there somewhere.
Within my first year of cobbling together work from a handful of directions some extremely gracious folks at the core of my creative world started to lend an ear to the mishmash swirling around in my head. There were, I am sure, internal chuckles at my youthful candor and unwillingness to choose a creative label, but some of these people helped me carve out a vision of what I showed promise in, define where my skills were, and even helped highlight my strengths through gratis creation of websites, videos and regular business consultation. I had friends, they were good at what they did, and some days it seemed like they thought I could be good at something too–eventually.
Looking back it sure seems like the day I decided to make printmaking my main squeeze happened fairly arbitrarily. I don’t recall having a grand plan, but I was under increasing pressure to make the freelance schtick pay off and I’d had a bit of experience with stone lithography and silkscreen in college. Drawing was a constant since childhood, and printing seemed like a realistic way to turn ink & graphite originals into limited series of sellable pieces–also, I hate digital printing. Let me not mince words, there is nothing I like less in this world than attempting to get my inkjet printer to spit out ink on a piece of paper that resembles the faintest hint of my on-screen expectations. It seems to me that personal computing technology since my childhood days of King’s Quest and Oregon Trail is highly impressive, but for some unknown reason printers have slowly loped forward at the pace of a large, unhurried tortoise. Easy decision then; no digital prints, just hand pulled silkscreen.
Herein lies the beauty of contemporary screen printing; it is extremely forgiving and extremely affordable. My first setup was in the basement of the aforementioned design collective, and the entire setup cost me approximately $400. With this painful-to-recollect equipment I printed my first series, The Esoteric Animal Alphabet. Consisting of 26, 3 to 6 color, 12” x 18” prints, each depicting an animal with an alliterative poem written around the creature. Holy nuts. The fact that I not only finished this series, but that some of these prints actually turned out pretty good astounds me to this very day. I think back to my struggles with almost every part of the process, and realize I loved every part of it. I cannot say with certainty that it was immediate, but I pretty quickly dug in and considered my new profession to be some combination of illustration and screen printing.
Let’s circle back to the beginning to finish this off. Printmaking is the best, digital printing lacks authenticity and it took me some time to get to where I am currently standing. Further, I am standing on a fairly small piece of land in the middle of an ocean and I can’t quite tell which is the best way to swim. We will talk more about my actual printmaking process, why I love mushrooms, some other things about inspiration from nature, et cetera in some future posts.
Good first meeting, catch you on the flip…