Wednesday, December 16, 2009

· "Friends IV" print available online from GRSF

My whale v. squid print, "Friends IV", is available now online from the Giant Robot gallery!

This is a large print made up of eight 12 7/8" square panels that connect together to make an image that's over 2' x 4'. Each panel was hand-printed by me on a letterpress proofing press from hand carved linoleum blocks, and is one of a signed and numbered edition of 20. If you'd like more info on how this monstrosity came into existence, check out my progress reports that I wrote as I was working on it: #1 (Design), #2 (Carving), and #3 (Printing).

The print is available from the wonderful folks at Giant Robot SF, click here to go straight to my piece, but don't forget to check out the rest of the fantastic Printed Matter show online, too! The bargain basement price for "Friends IV" is $100!

Saturday, December 05, 2009

· Progress Report #3 - Printing

So, here in our third and final post about my linoleum printing process, I wanted to give you an idea of how I printed the thing, and what the final art will look alike at the Giant Robot Printed Matter show, opening tonight (12/5)!

So, after carving all my linoleum, I had to mount them all on plywood blocks (generously cut for me by the wonderful Paul Stepahin). There were 15 blocks in all, eight for the black and seven for the red (there is just one panel, with the whale's flukes, that doesn't have any red in it). Here you can see the black blocks at a mid-point of the printing process (I've already printed the two blocks in the lower right hand side, as you can see).

Each of the blocks was set into the Vandercook press (at my work, Hello! Lucky: thank you, bosses!), which is a flatbed cylinder proof press. I had pulled prints on one before (the covers for Friends #3, for instance), but this was definitely by far the biggest project I had ever worked on, and I had a lot to learn, from registering the prints to cleaning the press at the end of the day! My mentor in all this was the incomparable Aaron Cohick, the head printer at Hello! Lucky and the proprietor of the fantastic New Lights Press. I learned so much durning the two weekends I spent printing, and I owe Aaron a considerable debt (maybe you can help me out by buying some of his amazing artists books, or his crazy new broadsides).

The red image (the squid + the whale's mean eye!) was printed first, since the red is a lighter intensity than the black print. The images below are from my second day of printing (I spent two 11-hour days on it!), so you will see the squid already printed and the whale being printed on top of that.

Because the blocks were so huge, and there were some irregularities with the linoleum, I would double ink the block, both by hand with a brayer (seen below), and as I pulled the prints, with the Vandercook's ink rollers. This added a ot of time to the process, but I got into a pretty good rhythm after awhile.

Below you can see one of the panels directly after printing the second color. For a final edition of 20 prints, I pulled about 34 of each panel (several were inevitably damaged, under-inked, or otherwise unusable), if you multiply that by the 15 blocks that's about 510 passes that this print took altogether! Yikes! I was definitely exhausted at the end of each day, but both the learning process and the end result were definitely worth it.

When I was done printing, I finally got to see the whole thing! I was really pleased... the print really is huge (you can see the pallet behind it for a sense of scale), and reflected the subject matter to a tee. I even like the irregularities of the print, I think there is a real beauty to it... some sections even look like they have a dappled, aquatic light on them that I couldn't have imagined would be there when I set out on the process. And of course, even though I knew it would happen, it's sort of shocking to see the whole thing flipped over!

Finally, I trimmed all of the sections down to 12 7/8" square. Below is a quickie montage of the eight sections together, I'll of course have a better photo up before long, that more accurately shows the piece in its entirety.

Thanks for your interest in this project, if you've been following along! Again, the print will be available as part of Giant Robot SF's annual Printed Matter show. The show opens tonight, Saturday, 12/5 (I'll be there early, around 6:00 - 7:30), and continues until 1/6/10. The prints, a numbered edition of 20, will be available for $100, both in the gallery, and online about a week later. After the show comes down I'll begin selling remaining prints on on the Family Style website and at comic/zine shows, I'll put up an announcement then! Again, thanks to Luke of GRSF, Paul, and Aaron for their encouragement and assistance!