Setting up a printmaking studio
So this all started one day when i was looking for inks in the art store, and I accidentally stumbled upon the "after thought" that is the printmaking aisle in most art supply stores. Granted, that isn't their fault, I don't think the average shopper is looking for that stuff, and the ones that are are looking for the very entry level stuff for stamp making or silk screening their own t-shirts.
But really, all of this dates back to art school where my love for drawing could only be rivaled by one other department...printmaking. In fact, in my last 2 year of art school, I basically spent all of my time in the silk screening studio where all of my finished pieces were completed. I also took intaglio as an elective in my first year, but I only actually did any relief printing, at Sir Winston Churchill high school in NW Calgary where I was enrolled in the Art IB program.
Come full circle to today, I am posting some of my black and white drawings on Reddit, and a user makes a remark that I should turn it into a woodblock cut. Actually, a great idea. Except, I decide the relatively easy version of that is to get into Linocut. So I go online, try to gather up everything I'll need to start, and I do remember the basics from high school, so I start to wing it, and actually, I am really loving it!
I forgot how much I love printmaking, and relief printing is really easy to do in a home studio, and it suits my style very, very well! So after running a few test prints off some blocks I've carved over the past few weeks I decided that I really need to setup a studio, or I am going to get ink on the carpets! I setup a little makeshift studio in the garage, and so far so good!
My first experiments:
So I've been experimenting with different carving materials, and I will be trying a couple more as well. I have also been researching a lot of other artists online. I have come to learn there is a bit of a balance between "easy cut" blocks versus traditional hard linoleum. While I like the hard stuff for holding a line, I like the soft stuff because it is a lot easier to hand burnish (rub the ink onto the surface of the paper using a flat hard surface like a wooden spoon or a burnishing tool) the soft blocks, but they also don't hold a line as well as the hard stuff. That said, if I avoid fine lines in the drawings for the soft blocks, it's not a big problem.
The middle print above was done on a soft "easy carve" block from Speedball. While it's easy to lose detail, you can still make some really nice images with it, and I am actually really pleased with the 4x6" postcard print of 3 sisters mountain range. The one on the far right is a more traditional mounted block, and the one on the left of the mama bear is actually on a material that I have been unable to find again since my first purchase, but that's ok because I would not get it again as it had some surface imperfections that affected my prints. The mounted block on the right was great to carve on, but also a bit more difficult to hand burnish, but I still really like the results.
What I am hoping for...
My hope is that people have an appreciation for the imperfect, but hand made prints more so than the Giclee prints (which are excellent reproductions of original art, but lack the hand of the artist outside of the original image). With handmade prints, what I like is that the hand of the artist is still present, and I feel the art appreciator shares a deeper connection to the art and artist. Rather than the prints being an after thought to just trying to make money off of an image, the prints themselves are the final product, they are the art!
That said, I still love Giclee prints, I even have some of my own work where I no longer own the original, I just like the added dimension of including handmade, traditional prints to my catalog of work, and I hope you will as well!
For sale at Market Collective May 24-26 at BMO Center in Calgary
If you are interested in any of the work you see, it will be available for sale at Market Collective, just a couple weeks from now. Come down and see me, I will be selling VERY AFFORDABLE hand made prints, some as low as $5!!!