December 7, 2011 2 Comments
While attending Community College in Florida for a Graphic Design Technology Degree, I was lucky enough to be enrolled in a Drawing II class in which the professor decided to perform an experiment using us students as guinea pigs. She wanted to teach us printmaking and perhaps if it went well, she could open a new Beginning Printmaking class in the future. The school had the equipment necessary, those old printing presses I passed everyday in the classroom and had no idea what they were, or what were they for. I am extremely happy to have been a part of this printmaking experiment, because as a Graphic Design student I rarely experienced hands-on projects, and was mostly assigned hands-on-mouse-and-keyboard type of things.
Jan Johnson (our teacher) came in one day and said “we were going to try something new”. She gave us all a rectangular piece of Plexiglas some ink and said “we were going to try printmaking”. I was scared. I didn’t know what she was talking about. Then she explained how we where going to try this new thing out, and I was excited.
Printmaking is a form of art that involves using ink to create the artwork on a matrix and then transferring it to paper or other materials such as fabric. Printmaking makes it possible to produce an artwork several times, but that wasn’t the case with what we were doing in Mrs. Johnson’s class. We were creating monotypes, a type of printmaking in which you create the artwork using ink and a matrix (in this case, the Plexiglas) and then transferring it to paper using a printing press. By then, most of the ink is gone, therefore producing only one (mono) piece of artwork. I thought that having one chance to make it right and not being able to have a re-do [like command + z] was scary, but once I had the hang of it I was very pleased with the results. You could run the matrix on another piece of paper with the remaining ink, and have what Mrs. Johnson told me was a “ghost print”. I had a couple of practice runs, my first one is to horrible to post in this blog, specially because it is supposed to be a self-portrait. But eventually I got the hang of it and decided to create a series of prints with the subject being the instruments I know how to play.
So, the process was very simple. Have an idea of what you want to print. Draw a few sketches of your print. Get the Plexiglas; evenly coat it with ink by using a roller. Create the artwork by removing the ink (negative print), using your fingers, fingernails, hands, rags, cotton swabs, brushes, sponges, dried out pens or markers, or anything pointed that could also add texture. Place your Plexiglas ink-down on your paper, and pass through the printing press. This is the result.