Memento Mori

jan2011-041_31c3258eLife is so fragile! Found out my grandpa had cancer a week ago and before I am even able to comprehend the news, he is already gone. As I wrestle with mortality on the way out of town today, our lives flash before us as an idiot going 60 in a 40 barely missed our car on a windy bend in the road. Had he been looking down or texting we all would have been severely injured or killed. He barely had enough time to get back into his own lane. I wish everyone countless reminders like these to realize how precious life is while we have it. May I never take a day of life for granted again.

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“My baby just wrote me a letter…”

Like most artists I know, I have to do a lot of odd jobs to pay the bills. The last thing on my mind is working on a new blog post. Just being honest. I am not used to blogging as a way of reaching out to the world. Instagram maybe, but I’d rather see you in person.

                     My preferred way of selling my art is having a direct connection with you.  A package or a handwritten letter, a quick message on a postcard feels wonderful to receive. Would you like to send me something? I can’t promise a quick turnaround, but something, someday.

MAIL TO:  The Collectve Press >> P.O. Box 3494 >> Bloomington, IN  47402

In the meantime, I am determining myself to blog more.  What’s the worst thing that could happen.

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The Story behind the Postcard

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Back in 2008 I saw this really great documentary about the Race Across America, a 3000 mile bicycle race from San Diego to Atlantic City.

It is called Bicycle Dreams, and here’s the website for it: http://bicycledreamsmovie.com/

I highly recommend watching it weather you are a bicycle-enthusiast or not.  It’s not about the sport so much as a portrayal of human courage amid extreme obstacles.  Racers engage in an unthinkable test of physical endurance without sufficient sleep, many to the point of hallucinations.

The person who stood out to me the most from the documentary, even months after, was a man by the name of Bob Breedlove.  He was the race’s oldest competitor at 53, an orthopedic surgeon from Iowa, and an inspiration to everyone in the race.  Amid the worst weather,  road, and internal conditions he always had a smile for the camera, and would say, “It’s a beautiful day in Paradise.”

Just watch the film and you’ll understand his influence.

So he inspired this postcard, but of course there is a double meaning which transcends much discussion:  simply, BREED LOVE.

Good Stuff

Moved into my new studio space at the Fell Building and it is shaping up quite nicely!  Here is how it looked at the beginning.  Such character.  So happy to have so much light.  It really does wonders for your head.

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And here it is in the fall of 2012:

My letterpress studio at the I. Fell

My letterpress studio at the I. Fell

 

 

Since I am so close to my screen-printing equipment at the Bloomington Print Collective, I’ve spent several hours there printing T-shirts in the last couple of weeks.  I printed 4 of my old designs from the early days at TCP, namely, Bloomington Bike-Inspired shirts, as well as a long-requested NEVER GIVE UP design.  So far I have a limited selection of shirts but soon enough I’ll be able to print much more.  Yay.

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Bloomington Print Collective

 

Such fun.  So many new ideas.  I love being in such a beautiful historic building filled with working artists’ studios.  It’s such a nice incubator for growth.  So much has changed since my days printing shirts in a garage.  (Oh wait, this is a garage!)  But it’s heated, it’s in an awesome building, and my visitors aren’t just poking in from the alley every once in awhile.  There is quite the scene here and I’m happy to be along for the ride.

UPDATE:  My screen printing equipment is no longer at the Bloomington Print Collective.   It is currently housed at a nice location out in the woods, nearby where I live.     

 

Help along the way…

So my latest way of getting to Gordo involves catching rides from those heading south for vacation. This time around my friend Ryan was heading to Gulf Shores and he was kind  enough to take me to Tuscaloosa to meet Amos.  The  weather and company was beautiful.

 

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This trip down was very productive! I helped by organizing thousands of dingbats, sorting like with like. It’s amazing how similiar the processes of letterpress reminds me so much of childhood games. Sorting feels lot like Concentration or Memory. Other times the act of setting type and locking the furniture into place feels like Operation or Lincoln Logs.  I wonder if other letterpress printers feel this way?

 

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While there I got to work on some Birth Art for a friend and the prints look absolutely amazing. Once again, the process reminded me of childhood games, namely, puzzles… There are only a certain number of possibilities in arranging the text, and it can take hours to complete one that has the right “look.”

 

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Here are the final prints. Cool, eh? You know you want one, right?? ;)
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Having a friend to share a trip with you makes it all more worthwhile. Usually I buzz straight through Nashville but this time we took our time. Went to Hatch Showprint for the first time since my internship in 2002 and as letterpress goes, nothing seems to have changed… except the people working there of course.  Toured the infamous Ryman Auditorium, which I would recommend to everyone.

 

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Lastly, I would like to give a shout-out to a little diner in Kentucky who made us wait 45 minutes for a couple sandwiches and some fried okra, but it was DAMN worth it. Loving the notion that food should take a good while to make it right, and glad we took the time to really understand what it’s all about. This will probably spark a new poster series, by the way.

 

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Great things happen in Gordo…..and Columbus, Mississippi, too!

In January I had an opportunity to visit the print shop in Gordo again.  I was super pleased to know that it lined up perfectly with Kyle Durrie’s visit to Columbus, Mississippi, which is only 30 minutes away from Gordo, Alabama.  Kyle’s Moveable Type Truck tour passed through + hosted a workshop at Jessica Peterson’s print shop, The Southern Letterpress and Job Printing.  Here she is giving a quick talk about her cross country adventures.

Kyle from Power & Light Press

Kyle from Power & Light Press

Amos was my date for the evening!  Looking good, eh?

Amos Paul Kennedy, Jr

Amos Paul Kennedy, Jr

Kyle’s Type Truck is beyond awesome!  She transformed an old laundry truck into a movable letterpress print shop, equipped with a proof press, a platen press, and of course, type!  Everyone was super excited to learn about her travels, cross country, in such an enormous beast!  Here’s a view of Jessica’s print-shop from inside Kyle’s:

View into The Southern

View into The Southern

For the Love of Letterpress

Recently I acquired a new sign press and a cabinet full of wood and metal type!!  The press cleaned up really well and was ready to use right away.  The registration mechanism works quite well and the roller is in great shape so I am incredibly satisfied so far.

Magnetic Sign Press

Magnetic Sign Press

My first project was to print backgrounds, which I plan on printing a lot of.  It is a great way to spend time.  I often print backgrounds for projects that have not presented themselves yet, but I know they will come…

20th Century Medium

20th Century Medium

For the first series, I picked out a ton of blocks that were used as candy and cigarette advertisements in the past.  I am printing layers and layers and layers of different arrangements of the same blocks, changing colors randomly.
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2011-10-24-14-17Originally an effort to not waste ink, I started smearing leftover ink from jobs onto blocks and then printed them, or occasionally smearing ink directly onto the paper itself.  For some reason I find myself smearing ink in the same direction more often than not—I love the motion you can create from the unity of marks.

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*News!  Less than a week away is our Grand Opening of the Trained Eye Arts Center!  It is on November 5th from noon until late!  We are very excited to be open to the public and want to throw a super fun bash so that everyone gets hyped about getting involved in this artist collective.  There are so incredible opportunities we are going to be offering, please visit our blog at www.TrainedEyeArts.com to stay updated with our classes and events.

New blog coming soon!  Returned home from Gordo, Alabama mid October and it was one of the best trips yet.  Stay tuned!

Traveling + Selling Art in Charlotte, NC

NoDa public art

NoDa public art

Recently I was in Charlotte NC visiting my best friend and her little one.  One night we decided to go out and sell some of my posters so we scoped out some local green spaces but nothing felt right.  We heard  about this area of Charlotte called North Davidson, or NoDa, so we decided to check it out.  We had no idea that there were hundreds of other artists gathered there to sell their art!  It happens the 1st and 3rd Fridays of the month, and it coincides with the gallery walk.  I love the idea of artists setting up their goods in public, hassle-free!  The above photo is some installed public art on North Davidson, across from the Salvador Deli. (Great name, and great mural on the building!)

Zosia sleeping next to a row of my posters

Zosia sleeping next to a row of my posters

We had a great time meeting other artists and enjoying the nightlife.  I am really intrigued by the idea of a public artist’s market, similar to a weekly farmer’s market.  I have many friends who are artists and I hope to convince many of them to participate in something similar to this in Bloomington.  One possibility is hosting it in our parking lot at Trained Eye Arts (our art collective) but another side of me wants us to set up downtown on the square so we are in the public eye.  Anyone interested in participating, let me know!  As the weather gets colder look out for weekly open studios at our collective, we hope to start that in a month or so…

A Space of One’s Own

Washed kale from our garden

Washed kale from our garden

Is a Must.  I am happy to say that I received the keys today to my own space in a collective art project here in Bloomington.  I have been waiting on this opportunity for a long time and I am excited for what a project like this offers artists in a community.

The name of the project is Trained Eye Arts and it is located just off the B-Line trail on Fairview Rd. It is described as a “cooperative art guild, retail shop, studio, trade school and civic beautification committee.” Today I met many of the artists involved and I look forward to sharing my time and effort with people dedicated to fostering each other & their community through education and artistic development.

I have finally created a Facebook page for The Collective Press which you can visit here.  It is a compilation of many of the printing projects completed at the old print studio on Allen Street.  You can also check out the Facebook page for Trained Eye Arts here.  Please check out these sites and support us in whatever ways you can.  If you are not from Bloomington, be sure to support the local artists in your town!

Glad to be of Good Use

Last week I was in Gordo, enjoying the life of a print-maker.   I am learning not from the best printer in Alabama, but the happiest print-maker in Alabama.  It is a life of production.  You don’t wait til you feel creative, you just makes stuff — every single day. It’s a daily thing:  Put ink on paper.  Make shit.

My intention upon coming down on this trip was to be of assistance a friend who has been extremely busy with orders.  There is nothing better than helping a good friend.

The first task I did for Amos was to count, organize, and document all of his Alabama Photo Books.  Beautiful, simple, a way to capture an illuminating photograph inside.

Alabama Photobooks

Alabama Photobooks

Secondly, I gathered and sorted through hundreds of posters that have been printed at his shop.  He saves every thing printed there—his work or a visiting artist’s work—and sends them off to colleges, libraries and other organizations.

2011may9-001_77120e07One day I organized a case full of dingbats.  There were tiny stars, pointing fingers, flowers, people, borders.  Most weren’t in any particular order so I enjoyed the one sunny day of the week outside, making order out of old printer’s characters…
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As far as my personal work, I created a ton of monoprints once again.  I usually create these using the excess ink from previous print jobs.  I try not to think too much about this process, allowing it to be more random.

Not pictured yet, I also created 100 posters with “Never Give Up” in silver and 200 posters with the “Never Give Up” backgrounds with the new quote, “Courage is the force that creates history.”  This quote spoke to me strongly these past few weeks so it seemed appropriate to put in on a poster.