Saturday, November 13, 2010

Irons in the Fire

The Raucous Auction at the VABC sure lights a fire in one's soul to get printing again! Everyone's enthusiasm and awe at the different works up for auction is infectious so I pretty much stayed at my drafting table today. For weeks (and maybe months) I've been only furtively creating things. It was mostly journaling and note writing. That's a good practice but if you did that nonstop you'll never make anything. So, today I took up the torch and set out on a journey to build the foundations of three projects that take priority on my list of "to-do".
Above is the mock up for the newest (and first that I am participating in) VABC group project. The project is called "Indulgences" and the finished product will be a receipt book full of tickets for different indulgences. I previewed the design that will be printed on the back of each ticket.  Frank Riccio has designed for us an intricately beautiful image and it rocks the house! Garrett Queen has worked up the design format that we will be working in and did a perforation along one side on the sample and I'm really excited! It looks like a legitimate contract! The preview image was a 20% off coupon for purgatory. I've got something a bit more cynical in mind for mine. As you can read, it's a ticket to "The Big Sleep" which is a universal product of "The Big Industries", headed up by the Devil. I chose the receipt side to represent the terms of contract. This is just a mock up within the perimeters of the page. I typed everything out in photoshop and then printed it out to arrange on the real thing. There will be a little bit of wiggle room designed in but I wanted to get a general feel of how the sorts will fit when ready for print. I've decided I will design and hand carve the title at the top and the titles of each of the "Big Industries" with an image integrated in each title to represent the company. I'm going to print it in the sootiest black I can find.  I already have bone black and antiquarian black from Graphic Chemical. Those are two good contenders I think.  The imagery will be gritty and graphic and the "Big Company" titles will be the only parts of the ticket to have any color. I can't wait!!

The next project I worked on was my concept for a business card. Up until now, I've been designing images online and ordering cards from They did my post cards for the show in July and I was none too happy. Admittedly, I should've ordered them earlier so that if there was an issue I could've had them redone but it was too little too late. I can understand bad design but the registration in the colors was off so it was jarring to look at and it really irritated me.
I've stayed away from printing my own business cards for two reasons. The first reason is business cards are small and tedious so printing each one is a pain in the ass. The answer to that is to set enough type to print a whole page and then cut them down to size afterwards but it is just as tedious to justify and measure the type for a whole page as it is to print little cards one at a time. Reason number two lies in the print itself. I kind of have a hang up on printing cards because the line gets blurred between "craft" and "fine art". The process is the same but the philosophy is different. One wouldn't think twice about tossing out a card but there is no way you would part with a "fine art print". So, I sat down and had a long and hard grapple over what to do. In the end I decided that if I love printmaking and am going to continue doing it, a card representing what I do would be the best way to go about advertising myself. I set about designing a template for a woodblock that is partitioned into "card sized" images. I'll carve these out and run them off in different colors. When I hand out these cards I will now be giving away tiny prints that people will hopefully enjoy. I'm hoping it will make a better impression and maybe people will want to follow what I'm doing. We'll see.  Sorry, the image is a tad crappy.  The follow up scans should be better.

Lastly, I finally started work on Baren Forum's Exchange #47. This is an open exchange of prints with Baren Forum members. The particular one I joined is relegated to the Moku Hanga technique and has a format of roughly 13"x 6". I have a show coming up in April on river themes so I chose the Chowanoke Crayfish as subject material. At first I designed it as a vertical orientation with a creek flowing down over various stones and about 6 crayfish perched atop with their claws lifted in the air as if dancing in the wind. I sat back and looked at it and it appeared severely Disney-ish to me. I totally erased every scrap of the image and went to a horizontal orientation. I know first hand that crayfish live under rocks and you have to carefully overturn them in a stream bed to find the little guys. I drew some stones and one with a lip that overhung. A single crayfish fit nicely under there. Wabi-sabi. The stone orientation and single crayfish feels more real to me. For the carving and printing I will take liberty with the water. I've really been into researching the Arts and Crafts movement lately and I'd like the give the water a glittering Gustave Klimt feel. We'll see what happens soon!  Again, crappy photo.  Pencil sketches never really translate well.

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