Monday, December 28, 2009

Creator of Famous Obama Image Disappointed in Obama


---------------------------------Happy holidaze----------------------------

The escalation in Afghanistan, the weak health care reform, detainee abuse not being shared with the public… on a number of issues I’m very disappointed in Obama. I hate being in a position where I’ll either be characterized as having “turned” on Obama for speaking out, or for being a “brainwashed cheerleader” if I give him more time to get it together. The last thing I want is to do is de facto strengthen the Republican’s position by attacking Obama, but I think he needs to be pushed. I don’t think Obama is a bad human being, I just think he is not being brave enough. In some regards I think Obama is just the messenger, letting us know he’s caved in to corporate and political forces we have all done too little to keep in check. I must qualify that by saying SOME people like Robert Greenwald and his Brave New Films team and have certainly done their part to make righteous efforts. I’m disillusioned with the whole two party system. I’m baffled by some of Obama’s moves and many of the Democratic party’s moves. I’m confident that only campaign finance reform and vigorous participation from citizens, not corporations will change things for the better. Let’s all turn our dissatisfaction into positive action… talk-action=0.

Happy day of good will and peace on earth from a proud agnostic humanitarian. If a god made all this, he or she was quite mischievous if not mean-spirited.



Sunday, December 27, 2009

The Intern Effect

When I started seriously writing this blog, I did so because I wanted to be able to share my adventures in the art world with other people I know who I may not have a lot of contact with. People who stumble across my blog through Google searches, or through my Myspace page (that I don't really use) or my facebook fan page (see right side of the page) can be in contact with my current work, or adventures through the art world, but most importantly, I made this thing because I won't be living in the same state in a few months, and I wanted to have a way for people to be able to see what I am up to while I am gone.

The reason I won't be living here-if you didn't know- is that I am interning at Hatch Show Print in Nashville starting in February. I will be away from my friends and family, I may not have a job that pays, and I may not be able to afford to live in Nashville without putting it on my credit cards. In other words, my life is about to change, big time!

To put this change into perspective, I can look back at the last 9 years of my life and all 9 years are spent almost exactly the same. I had a pretty stable life. 9 years at UofL. 9 years at the same job. 9 years living at home.

Since I have graduated, and got the internship at Hatch it has affected my life quite a bit and The last nine years' status quo is already starting to go out the window.

The internship, and the possibility of grad school afterward has strained my last relationship to the point of breaking up, and as a result of my 2 month absence, my current employer has said that I won't be able to take a promotion (which would have been my 3rd) because they can't have me be gone for 2 months. Every member of management wants me to take this position.

They say now, that I may not be able to keep my health insurance benefits, and that I may have to start all over again from minimum wage when I get back. The classes at The Mellwood Art Center have been put on hold, and even if they started today, I probably wouldn't be able to teach them because it would end right as the internship was beginning.

I wish that all of these things didn't happen, or could have been resolved, but regardless of the outcome of these events, I need to do this internship. I very rarely take chances with any aspect of my life, and for the first time, I am taking steps towards a positive change. I know that if I decided to stay here, stay to teach, or stayed for a promotion, it wouldn't be me following my dreams, and I would always wonder what it would have been like to work at a place as important to the tradition of printmaking, the history of Nashville, and pop culture in general, as Hatch Show Print.

This is something that I have wanted for a long time, and worked very hard to get. If I decided not to take the opportunity given to me by the people at Hatch Show Print, I would kick myself for the rest of my life.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Death or Glory

A few months ago when I was wandering ebay in search of interesting screenprints to possibly add to my collection, I stumbled upon this print. At the time it was something like $25, and seemed like a real solid image. Like most things in life, or eBay, I thought that it must be too good to be true. The price was nice and so was the image, there must be something wrong with it. It didn't even have the name of the artist listed in the description. For whatever reason, I didn't buy it. I should have though. I found another one on eBay for somewhere around $170!

As near as I can tell, the print is called "Death or Glory 09" by someone named Parry Doogan. Heard of him? Me either, but I dig his style! If this were just a really well printed monochrome image of The Clash's Joe Strummer, I probably wouldn't have given it a second glance, but this print is different! The thing that makes this image go beyond a standard ordinary screenprint, is his simple use of varnish that gives this image a whole new dimension. Compare the top image taken straight forward, with the one below taken from the side. Can you see the lyric? "Death or Glory/becomes just another story" Still don't see it? Try the image below in red. Oh yeah, it also comes in red.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Graphic Novel Style

I used to read comics a lot more than I do now. I started with only Ninja Turtles in elementary school, then mostly Superman in middle school, and by the time I was in high school I read mostly X-men related stuff. This isn't to say that I read these comics exclusively, I read a little bit of everything. Towards the end of my weekly comic book reading, I started getting into indie stuff, graphic novels, and less traditional superhero stuff(like Madman for example).

In college my car had died, and I was left with the decision to either keep buying comics, or get a new car/car payment. I chose the car. It wasn't a bad decision really because I don't miss comic books that much, and I still read the occasional graphic novel.

I really like the work of R. Crumb. Although sometimes I feel like it is hard to tell if he is being satirical or offensive, and some of his personal stories can make you blush with what they reveal, his style of drawing is beautifully done. I suggest checking out "The Softer side of R. Crumb".

Another Favorite of mine is Daniel Clowes. I remember loving "Ghost World", and going to get the comic(excuse me, "Graphic Novel"), and from there reading "Ice Haven", and "20th Century Eightball". Not only his drawing style, but his narrative style make me wish I had the talent to make the kind of stories, and characters that he creates.

The same goes for Adrian Tomine's work. His series "Optic Nerve" shares the same kind of subtle angst, and desperation that you find in Clowes' work, only with less silly characters.

All three of these artists have a unique way of dealing with the figure with amazing results. Crumb utilizes hatching more, while Tomine uses very minimalistic lines. Somewhere in the middle lies Clowes. The drawings above are my attempt at capturing portraits in a more graphic novel style.

It isn't always easy, or pretty because these works are done with an ink pen then covered with color pencils. I really like the work, and think that practicing this more "cartoon" style can only improve the way in which I see light, shadow, and also line work in a way that is not what I would traditionally do with my own drawing style using charcoal.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Print Collection 1

My Morning Jacket Plays the Tennessee Fire
Triangle Poster CO.
Pittsburgh, PA
Screenprint and/or Letterpress

When I was younger my friends and I would load up the car and head down to Bardstown Rd. where we would wander around and check out the stores, hang out and have a good time. During these days there were no social networking sites so if you expected someone to come see your show, you had to make real life flyers, and stick them to real life telephone poles. If I would see a really well designed flyer while walking around, I would sometimes take them from the poles.

This is where I got this print. I dare say it is the first print in my collection, even though I took less than great care with it. It has pin holes in it, and drawing on the back, but when this poster was printed I highly doubt it was created to be "high art" and the whole gig poster/printmaking fad hadn't yet arrived.

The band is one I had never heard of when I acquired the print, but recently had appeared on TV's American Dad, and I believe they also had a live concert on television for New Year's Eve 2008/2009. The popularity of the band as well as the trendiness of printmaking and gig posters makes me wonder how long a poster like this would have survived stuck to a pole these days. This same poster I took from the streets is actually for sale(or was at one time) at Ear X-tacy.

When I found this print I had no knowledge about printmaking. I didn't know who Andy Warhol was, I had never been to Hatch Show Print, and I had probably never even had any experience in my high school art classes, but this was a cool poster. The paper was thick, the colors were bright, but it had a certain hand made quality that normal posters did not. I could see the impressions in the lettering, I could see slight imperfections, and the ink seemed to sit on top of the paper more than normal posters.

Based on my printmaking knowledge I would say this poster is a combination of screenprinting and letterpress. The image at the bottom seems to be a generic screenprinted design that is available for everyone and the text at the top seems to be a letterpressed custom design. If you visit the Triangle poster company website they have pictures of pre-printed images that you ca use for your event, and this is one of them. This particular elephant image is "style #531" according to the bottom of the poster.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Jasper Johns By Shepard Fairey

When I look at this print I think a few things.

1. This print would make a great gift for that printmaker/collector in your life *cough ME cough*.
2. Is this the beginning of a series of artists portraits? I kind of hope so. It would be great to see Shepard's take on some of the classics, or even lesser known artists that everyone reads about in those Art History classes.

Hypothetically, which artist would you like to see? I am a huge Warhol, Haring, and Basquiat fan, and would like to see any of them reproduced in print. The only thing is that Warhol is such an obvious choice especially since Fairey is the modern day Warhol. I think that the clean, smoothed out images that Fairey has been producing lately seem to lend themselves more to artists who do photography.

Basquiat and Warhol's images were too rough around the edges, and Haring was too colorful and positive. Because of this I think that someone like Cindy Sherman would make a great subject for his printing techniques. When I think of Sherman, I think of dramatic poses, and lots of shadow play, both of which would translate well to print. The other artist, based purely on color scheme, would have to be Barbara Kruger. Her stark contrast of red, white, and black seem to fit Fairey's style perfectly.

Friday, December 4, 2009

The History of a Great American Poster Shop

I just finished reading "Hatch Show Print: The History of a Great American Poster Shop", in preparation for my upcoming internship. It is a really great book for people who are interested in letterpress posters, or the history of Nashville. The book goes into a lot of detail about the times, places, employees, and even some technical details about the shop, and considering that the shop has been in operation for 130 years,that is a lot of ground to cover.

The story is a straight forward history detailing the founding of the company, and the basic types of posters printed. It's interesting to see how advertising with posters has changed so much in 130 years at Hatch even if technology has not. It seems when entertainment changes, posters are still there, whether it be minstrel shows, country music stars, wrestling, state fairs, or politics, Hatch Show Print has been there! For me, the best part of the book was being able to witness the decline of the business and the triumphant return of the shop to its glory days in its new location.
--(above) My first Hatch Show Print--

I feel like this end part of the book is where I come in. Around 3 years after the book was published I went on a road trip to Nashville with my brother and my cousins, to see the Curiosa Festival. When we arrived we were too poor to afford tickets and instead spent our time riding Go-Karts, playing mini golf, and going to the Opry Mills mall. We also went downtown to checkout the happenings. While walking past a building I looked in the window and saw a poster of the concert we were unable to attend. Inside I bought a copy of the poster I had seen on display in the store window. That store was Hatch Show Print.
--(above)Pieces from my Hatch Show Print collection, not including window cards, or t-shirts--

At this time I had yet to take a single printmaking class in college, but I knew that the distinctive Hatch Show design was something great. A few years later my mom went to Nashville on business. I asked her to ask the employees of Hatch if they were hiring. A few days later she returned with a couple of postcards, a print from Hatch, a t-shirt, and news that they were going to have internships available in the Fall of the next year. I checked out the website info and began looking into what I needed to do to get the internship. That summer we went down for the day and like always, stopped in to Hatch Show Print, where I bought a sticker, a t-shirt, and a print. As a joke I asked them to go ahead and put my name down on the list for interns the following fall. The person behind the counter told me I would have to apply online. For the next year there was nothing on my mind but to work on my BFA show/graduation, and think about the internship that (hopefully) awaited me afterward. I wondered what it would be like to work in the shop, printing the way people have been printing for hundreds of years! Getting to learn a new type of printmaking, getting hands on experience, meeting new people and being able to live on my own in a different city.

A few months later I graduated, and I sent off my resume for the Fall 2009 session of the internship at Hatch. I got a call back for an interview, and I thought that I did okay. They decided not the pick me for whatever reasons, but said I could still be considered for future sessions. I was excited by that, but I felt like I shouldn't get my hopes up. They didn't pick me before, so why would they pick me now? I thought I should focus on getting a real job, moving out on my own, and maybe thinking about grad schools.

Luckily, (in a way) I didn't have a new job, or a place of my own, or a grad school selected, because I received an email from Hatch Show Print a few weeks ago inviting me to participate in the February-April internship! I, of course, was bouncing off the walls with excitement and had to change my mission for my life once again. So that is pretty much it. This week I received my internship packet. Like one would expect, it includes letterpressed stationary with a personalized message, a card with a letterpressed history of the company, and a letterpressed price guide, as well as a bunch of photocopies relating to the behavior expected from interns.--(above) Letterpressed internship Packet--
As excited as I am that all of this is happening, I am also a little nervous. The people I have talked to at Hatch seem really cool and laid back, and the history of Hatch I have read seems to back that up. A community of musicians and designers with Luddite tendencies working together and listening to music (interns are not allowed to touch the CD player BTW) to preserve Hatch Show Print's legacy through production.

The intern manual is very rule heavy, and it needs to be, but reading it also brings in some self doubt. I can't let it get to me though, because everyone at my current place of employment tells me I am a machine! I work hard, and I take pride in my work, and Hatch Show Print will be no different. I can do this and it will be good for me. I feel that I will finally be able to work somewhere artistic, and be a part of something bigger. Hatch Show Print is a part of history, and when the next chapter of the Hatch Show Print story is written I will be a part of it.