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Archive for April, 2008

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In the Lower East Side on Delancey right before the Williamsburg bridge, there is this little shop filled with very inexpensive and gaudy graphic tshirts for women. Just because you know how to screen print on tshirts, doesn’t mean you should.

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Every week I volunteer at an art gallery on Vernon Blvd in LIC on Thursdays and Fridays. I love the neighborhood, it’s still a very tight knit community with the old-school locals and the new artist residents. It’s still keeping that feeling despite the million dollar condos going up all around. Across the street from the shop, there is a coffee shop that I go to every time I’m there. Well, the new show Gossip Girl has claimed this coffee shop on thursday and friday afternoons. The production crew comes into the neighborhood, takes up the entire sidewalk, creates traffic and parking problems. The locals hate them because they are so disrespectful of the neighborhood. They block local businesses shop windows. They ask people who are standing on the sidewalk to move if they are in the shot. They have asked me to take in our store mannequin book stand. And one time, they were caught trying to get up on our fire escape without any permission. They’ve actually told a friend and I are who were chatting on the sidewalk to lower our voices. Rude

Well, this Friday it was a beautiful sunshiney day. 78 degrees with full sun and nice cool breeze. Well, I decided to sit outside in the sun. I didn’t want to be stuck indoors. As soon as Chomsky and I situated ourselves outside, a PA walked over and was just about to ask me to move before I said “I am not moving.” They don’t have a permit to this sidewalk and sitting outside on a chair is exactly what LIC locals do. Well to deal with me being in the shot they had extras stand around me to cover me up. I would have given the extras a hard time, but hey they get paid crap so I feel for them.

The worst part is that they trample all over our neighborhood to shoot a coffee shop that’s supposed to be in Brooklyn! Queens just doesn’t get the same respect. I doubt this production crew would stroll into Williamsburg and try to get away with the sh&t they pull here.

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Dude, seriously. You can find the coolest sh#t on ebay. I am constantly on the lookout for letterpress items. Here a few awesome items I’ve gotten over the last two months.

This is a handmade press out of nice woods for block printing. It’s so beautiful and finely crafted. The dude who made it took awhile to ship it to me, but it was worth the wait. I just got it today so I haven’t printed anything yet. But I will. It’s so freakin heavy.

This is a vintage letterpress block about 4×6 inches. The image is a reverse of the block because to print correctly images are backwards like rubber stamps. I plan on printing this on shirts and whatnot soon. Won’t it be badass.

This is a mini letterpress that is in great condition. The letters that come with it are super tiny. I want to print postcards or something. I haven’t thought of a project yet, but I will.

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Seriously. Nashville rocks. And Hatch Show Print abso-f#*&ken-lutely rules!

My absolutely favorite time of the weekend was spent at Hatch. We had a great time and I am so inspired. It was everything I dreamed it to be. We met up with the head designer and manager Jim Sherraden and he showed us around. Freakin’ awesome! What a talented bunch of people who are super duper friendly and super mellow. I had to control my energy level so not to scare them. I can get pretty excited. I’m like one of those little dogs who gets too excited and they end up peeing on themselves.

It was so great to hear Jim talk about his monoprints and his process. And I was able to talk to the other artists/printers talk about and show me what they were doing. I wanted to walk around and throw the wood carvings and the metal letterpress letters into my bag, but alas, I did not because that would be so wrong. We were able to see their newest projects in the works and even vintage ones that were being rehashed. We saw the behemoth of letterpress machines working like it does every day since 1942. That machine would last a nuclear attack.

Adam and I bought one of Jim’s mono prints, a whole lot of posters, and souvenirs for friends. I’m posting all the photos here. You have got to go visit if you’re serious about letterpress or block printing. They are the real deal.

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and there’s nothing I can do about it. I haven’t been able to post as many rantings as I’ve wanted to because I have had to censor myself on a couple of taboo topics. Sigh. There are a few things I’ve been wanting to discuss but, alas, certain doors will close if I discuss them. I’d hate to be black balled from certain places or from certain boroughs. But hey when you see me in person, I’ll tell you what’s been going on. I just can’t have it in writing. Urgh.

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Printmaking is defined as the process of reproducing images on a flat surface; three types are relief block (linoleum, wood), intaglio (etching, engraving), and stencil (silkscreen).  I don’t like to compare the types of printmaking to each other because they are all great in their own way. And depending on what look you want, one process might be better than the other.

As you know with my shirts, I block print them. A majority of graphic tees are screenprinted because you can get consistent looking prints that are very clean and it can be done fairly inexpensively. With blockprinting, the block basically creates a stamp which prints different each time.  And there is a notable difference in the texture and look between the two processes.

Screenprinting supplies have evolved over time to fit the need of apparel printers so inks and such are easily available to the public and many are waterbased. Because blockprinting hasn’t translated into a commercial setting the way screen printing has, it’s still considered a fine artist technique so the materials and inks are limited. I don’t mind that because I can easily modify stuff and mix the ink colors I want, but for the amateur it may take years to master blockprinting, and printing on tshirts requires another level of expertise.

I love, love, love blockprinting on tees, obviously, but I know that’s its not the most cost effective way to print shirts. My concern is for the Queensbound line. With the retail price points being between $25-$28 a shirt, the profit margain is low. And since I’m trying to set up a grant program and donate as much as I can of the proceeds, block printing might not make the most financial sense.If I switch to screen printing, the images would stay the same, but the print would look and feel different. But do Queensbound customers care about how the print is applied or are they more concerned with the content? Do they care if I HEART QUEENS is screenprinted or blockprinted. When I get compliments on the shirts, I’m not really sure exactly what draws them to it. Content is a obvious yes, but style? no.

With my couture tees, of course, I’m sticking to block printing. That’s me. I’m becoming established as a block printing artist so should that inform Queensbound?  Urgh. I’m in a conundrum.

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