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Paper and Ink Workshop page 58 Why Do We Print? page 59
didn’t have the strict methodology drilled into their
heads, and their audience was accepting them uncritically.
Seeing that the market had opened past the tiny circle
of collectors that had kept it going, “that really opened
our eyes,he admits. “We realized we could be making
multiple editions of our popular prints, which is something
we never would have considered earlier. But the audience
is telling you what they want, and sometimes you have
to be smart enough to listen.
Emotional Connection
Creatives create. Sure, they have to eat and pay rent
and find one or two articles of clothing to cover their
body before they go outdoors, but they are driven to
make things, in a way that only fellow creatives can
appreciate. They can’t turn it off, and everyone finds
a different catalyst for each project that they feel
compelled to take on. It could be a unique personal
experience, like interacting with a somber landmark
in a foreign country, as is the case in the usually playful
Jesse LeDoux’s stark Permanent Shadow. Or, it could
be the bittersweet feeling he experienced in leaving
Japan to return to the U.S. that he expressed in
Sayonara Gohan.
Having this outlet to express themselves is vital for
designers and artists, but they must also focus those
feelings into something that connects with the viewer,
and reaches deep inside to tap their own emotional well,
and compels them to take a printed piece home with
them. Forming that bond between the person behind
the art and the consumer, with paper and ink holding
them together. That is one of the true joys of these methods
of printing, be it silk screen or letterpress, as they allow
for an economy that would normally be unobtainable,
so that anyone off the street that feels connected to
a piece could actually own one of the limited-edition
prints. It is a win/win in the purest sense.
There is also a release available in pulling prints. “I love
the ritual of it all. The very act of printing,” explains Denny
Schmickle. “It also requires dedicated time,” he adds.
“I can’t walk off and do something else, because the ink
will dry in the mesh and screw up the works. It’s meditative
and relaxing when it’s working right.” He also taps into
its low-art appeal, adding a voice to what so many probably
don’t even realize is a core reason why they do this. “I also
print because I have a chip on my shoulder. I had a very
blue-collar upbringing, and I learned to respect manual
labor and hard work. Screen printing is a very lunch-pail,
blue-collar kind of printing.” With its history as strictly
an option born from economic needs, he literally hits
the nail on the head.
For many, it is a calling. Fowler explains the feeling he
had when he visited the iconic Hatch Show Print and
saw letterpress for the first time. “I knew instantly, after
seeing the process, that it was what I was meant to do.
I love the tactile quality and the fact that you can see
and feel the printing. Quite simply, I was in love.”
Sonnenzimmers Nick Butcher sums up a lot of the
appeal, on both ends, when he says, “Screen printing
is accessible, cost-wise, to get into, but the results can
be extremely high in quality. The same can’t be said for
any other print medium.” Surveying his studio, he adds,
“You know what my favorite thing about the final result
is? That we’ve built it from scratch, right here in our little
studio and print shop.
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