I had the opportunity to exhibit a collection of my etchings at the International Gallery of Contemporary Art in Anchorage Alaska. This was my first opportunity to exhibit close to home and really visually celebrate the medium.
I took some photos of the exhibition.
In concert with the show I also produced my largest etching yet “Whale”.
the final edition measures 25.5″ by 53″ and was a bear to etch, ink and pull on my press. I will be releasing it next week. Also I always set aside some editions for use in an exhibition. And so i will be listing several previously sold out prints in the editions page.
Thanks to IGCA and everyone who came to the show. It was really pretty great.
Hello, so i just posted info about the pre sale for the all new edition from antiquated press. It is a pretty neat print that was so fun to work on. Technically it is my most ambitious project. Multiple hard grounds, aquatints, spit bites. You name it - I threw it at this guy. It is also about 100 square inches larger than my last biggest copper. SO yeah, its got this outrageous content.. crazy process and its huge. I even got a video of me pulling one of the regular editors
When I finally get through all the work in putting together an edition, series, release etc. It is quite the experience releasing it. It starts out with being a huge pain in the ass. I love etching and making these prints, I love the process and the medium and materials. But ugh, the websites and the photos and the “doing everything correctly” is really tough because I tend to be a fuck up.
I grew up reading Richard and Wendy Pini Elfquest books. They had a major impact on me. I was a big fan of Skywise and all things woflriders. Add to that watchign the littles on saturday mornings and basically, if you’re a tiny magical creature.. you are gonna have an awesome steed. It just makes sense.
This is a six etching series. Fox, Hare, Snail, Moth, Sea Chariot and Owl. They are all 6″X9″ copper plates printed on 10″X13″ arches. THey are limited to 40 and well I really ended up pleased with the lot of them. It was fun to work on these smaller plates (especially after the beast that was Regatta). Here are some photos:
Hare: Just a basic hard ground, no aquatint or anything like that. Hare isnt the most exciting of the riders but it might be my favorite.
Sea Chariot: I utilized both hard ground and aquatinit in this etching. I actually drew this as just a drawing years ago, it became a t shirt as well at one of the big shirt places. But I have wanted to revisit it in copper for quite some time. I am far more pleased with this etching than the original drawing.
Snail: This one is also just a basic hard ground. Lots of step biting though. It has a pretty great texture to in due to some pretty deep etched lines.
Owl: Hard ground and aquatint. It was probably the one that gave me the most grief in the process. But still super fun etching to work on
Moth: Hardground, Basically drew itself, I loved working on the thistle, and the little rider is smaller than a nickle so i was working with a loupe and a tiny needle.
Fox: Technically, I am most pleased with this one.Mainly because I have struggled with step biting in aquatint (I am still trying to make acrylic aquatint usable) But It actually worked with this one. So all i see is aquatint step biting win haha
And there’s all the final proofs (with margins cut off) taped to my wall next to my workarea.
Since these etchings are smaller than my normal work, it presented an opportunity to SHIP FLAT (yay, loud noises) Tubes are not so bad, but my mailman gives me grief. And they are kinda tough to do something fun with. After the violently satisfying custom work I did on the astronaut santa christmas cards. I wasn’t gonna miss the opportunity to something cool with the packaging on this series. And because of our Melancholy Press project we are fully equipped on the letterpress side. I ordered some plates with some riders logos. Ordered some polybags and found some REALLY NICE black tyvek envelopes. Water proof, tear proof etc. yay right? well not so much, the paper company basically considers Alaska to be on the moon. When I say my envelopes went from truck to plane, to a freaking BOAT out in the pacific ocean.. I am serious. It took a gruelingly long time to get the envelopes. And I really wasn’t going to be okay with just normal envelopes… I wanted to print them up with silver metallic ink.. it had to be black :(
All the packages also have double thick corrugated cardboard on tops and bottoms to protect the etchings, and each print is polybagged with a cool chipboard backer. I am pleased. I hope it is a nice thing to get in the mail.
SO yeah. I set aside 15 of the 40 editions for matching numbered sets. And gave a break on the price if you get the whole set. But those sold out in the presale, so I added 7 more. This doesn’t really effect anything, but I mention it because if you order just a single print, they will be in the edition numbers of 23-40. I think even if the sets all sell out again, I will leave up the set option and just try to find matching numbers as I go. Until theres only singles left.
Like I mentioned earlier, I had some pieces in the Mondo House Party SXSW show that happened last week. It was an amazing show with incredible talent. And I do have a pretty neat Etching I did for Monty Python, Based on the Crimson Permanent Assurance skit. That show will take place in Leeds UK - but is rescheduled to probably sometime in May. I will probably send out another awkward newsletter with lots of mistakes. Haha
Oh, speaking of neat things!! so for those out there who have a Fireflies.. or clockworks etchings. The television show Hawaii FIve O purchased a bunch of my prints to decorate the office of
Jerry Ortega’s (Jorge Garcia)… (HURLEY!!) bunker office. Since Jorge is a regular on the show, his office shows up quite a bit and it is oddly surreal seeing Fireflies making regular appearances.
And Lastly, I wanna show off this amazing framing job on a Regatta. This comes from my dear friend (and phenominal artist, author) Terry Fan.
Pretty nice with the black matting huh? Terry has good taste.
Thanks for hanging with me, if you read all of this. I have some fucking rad stuff in the works. Really. There will probably be two more releases in 2016, and they are gonna be ambitious. I hope to do better with posting things, but really i prefer to be in the studio scratching on copper. I have been trying to use instagram more. I posted progress shots on riders there.. look me up if you do the whole IG thing @isaboja
We have been secretly working on this project for a couple months. And now that they are arriving in folks Mailboxes I figured I would post a little “Astronaut Santa Story” Cause well, even though by all appearances these are basically christmas cards.. from our perspective they were this huge project with a million little steps that was as satisfying as it was challenging.
It started with wanting to do a christmas card for 2015. But I had this vision of something different. First off we wanted to do a small intaglio print. (Which ended up being the largest Intaglio edition to come out of AP). We printed up hundreds of these little prints. I used mainly scrap arches from various other prints. So there are some paper variances. And it was time consuming.. But insanely satisfying,There was no concern for marketability or sales or release dates or anything. It is so cool doing something exactly how we want it without any bullshit distracting from the point of it all. Intensely enjoyable.
After printing and flattening. We went to work on the backers. Decided to send these out in a polybag with a rigid chipboard backer. And then just simply print a christmas message on the back of the chipboard..
That’s the metal type for the backer, Love using metal type, Luckily Donna is a champ at setting type. Cause I have these useless sausage fingers.
And there is the heartfelt message. We did another run through the C&P to give a nice metallic silver medallion. It has a lovely embossment into the chipboard. I am quite fond of these backers.
We printed on the Intaglio itself too. It is rare to get an opportunity to use a gothic font. There was no hesitation on pulling the trigger on Gothic Font haha. The mixture of Intaglio and Letterpress is so cool. It’s a tactile experience!!
For the envelopes we wanted to do something different too. Astronaut Santa can’t be mailed in a bland envelope.. nope nope. So we bought the biggest damn roll of kraft paper in the world. 800 feet should be enough right? and proceeded to cut and glue hundreds of envelopes. yeehaw This was a family affair - (Sally and our Niece Tracy were huge helpers)
Which of course had to get run through the C&P as well.. (more gothic font.. just screams yuletide cheer)
And went ahead and threw some silver on the back as well for good measure.
Then we addressed and packed and glued them all up. We checked and double checked and hopefully only a couple of you got empty envelopes haha
Last but not least, we busted out my hundred year old perforator.. cause you know - perforation is important -
And well then we mailed them all off - and that was pretty damn stressful. I had a panicky feeling leaving the post office, like all my envelopes would fall apart in the mail machines.. inexplicable irrational.
Merry Christmas, happy holidays to all of you, I hope your cards make it safely. Me, Donna, Sally and Lil Joe Appreciate you all with the force of a thousand exploding suns. .
so 2015 is winding down and I have been working on these plates for most of it. Actually I think I started Airship in 2014… But Regatta is the real beast. Largest most difficult etching to date. the plate itself is three feet wide and the final editions measure 40″ X17″ just dealing with that sized paper (at 270 gsm Arches) is a challenge. The editions for both are low at 30. and as usual they are in the AP editions page http://www.antiquatedpress.com/Editions/
Here is a nice photo of the man himself… Mat Pringle
And scattered throughout all these words are photos of our collaboration: The Phantom Huntsman.
And for your reading pleasure, Mat and I did this Q&A discussion about this collaborative effort.
___________ cue intro music ________________
Joe: So it is pretty great we finally get to release this collaboration! (loud noises) It was a long time coming, but the final product is pretty great. For those who do not know, the way Mat and I collaborated on this piece was he drew the original illustration and I interpreted it on copper. Mat: That is pretty much the gist.
Joe: So Mat, you are a London based artist. An illustrator and printmaker extraordinaire who I have admired and considered a pal for years. For those not familiar with you - how would you describe your work?
Mat: Ha it’s odd in this day and age we seem to gather friends from afar without ever meeting them and before you know it you’ve been pals for ten years or so and you still haven’t met each other and yet with us all plugged into this brave new world of social media we can follow each other’s exploits relatively closely! I always remember discovering your work on Threadless and being totally blown away by your drawing technique and fantastical concepts so it was a real joy to see you move into printmaking full time.
My work is predominantly me, my trusty dipping pen and a bottle of Indian ink. Just about everything I do be it lino or increasingly watercolour pieces stem from that initial pen and ink line work. It’s evolved over time from being obsessively detailed into a slightly less detailed style - I think this is to do with confidence in my own abilities - my initial approach to drawing was wow the audience with lots of detail to distract from the fact I’m not so good at drawing but I’m now at the point where I don’t feel the need to do this. This combined with the desire to be constantly learning new approaches means my ‘style’ is always evolving but it nearly always starts with my dipping pen and Indian ink.
Joe: It’s so true about this era of connectivity.. one day were gonna share a pint or 12.. so, What sort of themes, concepts and ideas inspire you?
Mat: Music and films are a huge part of my life and have been since my spotty adolescence so these both play a huge part in my inspiration. More specifically folklore, horror movies, bestiaries, cryptozoology, the occult, flora and fauna. I’m at the point where I want to do something more substantial than just a print or poster; I’m more interested in publishing zines and books. I’ve got a couple of children’s books on the go that I want to finish in the next few months but it’s harder to find the time to work on them with teaching and commissions etc.
Joe: Oh man, I love the unknown, esoteric and Fortean stuff.. one of my favorite dog eared books is the dictionary of the unexplained. For our piece we did The Phantom Huntsman, Im also a huge fan of old fables and tales. Tell me about the piece and what inspired to draw it.
Mat: The Phantom Huntsman is from English Folklore; the story goes Herne the Hunter saved a King’s life by throwing himself in front of a raging stag but in doing so the stag’s antlers pierced Herne’s heart. As he lay dying a passing wizard (convenient right?) saved him by somehow attaching the stag’s antlers to Herne’s head. Herne eventually hanged himself in the ancient forest of Windsor and is said to haunt the area.
The illustration is part of series I’ve been working on called FOLKGORE in which I’ve reinterpreted old Folklore tales but with extra nudity, violence and more sexual swear words. I’ve even created some of my own tales such as the Bird Woman of Brockley. I’ve compiled the first run of stories in a zine which has just gone to print and will be available very soon.
Joe: how exciting, save a zine for me. The way I am approaching collaboration editions at AP, instead of involving money.. is to split the edition. So you ended up with half of the prints. There are so many companies that offer to put art on products but I really want to be in the clouds with AP and avoid all the bullshit.. what do you think about the way we did things?
Mat: I think the way we (you) worked the collaboration was perfect. I wouldn’t have got involved otherwise but the design world is currently full of shady companies offering to put your artwork on mugs, coasters, prints, contact lenses, condoms etc and it’s total bullshit. Total fucking bullshit in fact. The profits are typically very low and what’s more you’re cheapening your artwork by allowing it to happen. I’m a printmaker and I make runs of prints with love and [occasional] hard graft; I don’t want the same artwork being mass produced on fucking napkins and teabags. Plus that approach encourages all kinds of bullshit such as ripping off other people’s work, churning out endless shitty pop culture referencing crap and it encourages laziness in creativity.
By doing it the Antiquated Press way we have absolute control over the artwork, I know the prints are going to be fucking great because I know you really care about what you do and if people like them we both benefit.
Joe: that really is encouraging.. and I couldn’t agree more. The landscape of derivative work right now is depressing.
One of the toughest things was shipping the completed prints to you for signing.. I know that was stressful. It is a long way from Alaska to London and back. But it is seriously satisfying having both our signatures on the work. Maybe it is just me, but i get anxious whenever I mail anything… cause of the crazy amount of work involved. I reassure myself that i am just being crazy.. I tend to be crazy sometimes. Is it just me?
Mat: Ha no that part was a nightmare for me too not least because the Postal Service in the UK is so fucking expensive. I went back and forth to the Post Office three times tweaking the package each time to get it to a certain size and it still cost a veritable fortune to send back without a signature! I was in a hellish limbo waiting for you to confirm you’d received them! It felt worse because I know it was 99% all your hard work too!
Joe: You do amazing lino cut prints, I own several. How do you feel about a medium like relief printing as opposed to straight up drawing for silkscreening or other types of printmaking?
Mat: Aw shucks thanks. I think the medium works for me really well as it retains my pen and ink line work perfectly; I’m very conscious of not veering too far away from that aesthetic. Plus it tends to dictate a very limited colour palette too which is something I like to stick to as a result of doing a lot of screenprinting. Plus I suck at lots of colours…
Joe: I too am not a big color guy (no surprises there) I have a hard time not cutting my hands to bits with lino prints.. One day we will get a chance to hang out and you can give me some tips.
Mat: Yes it can be a beast. I teach Illustration and Printmaking at the BRIT School in London and I’ve seen a student slice through her finger. It’s not pretty. I tend not to teach lino cut printing now…
Joe: So if you were able to give advice to someone out there. Lets say a person who is considering working towards being an independent artist. What would you tell them?
Mat: Always be drawing. And draw what inspires you and drives you, don’t get caught up in what everyone else is drawing and how they’re drawing it. Stop with the shitty pop culture references; the world doesn’t need anymore Breaking Bad/Game of Thrones prints. Don’t be a dick. And don’t work for free.
Joe: When I work I need to have music playing in the background, it is part of my ritual - I have lots of little rituals when working. What sort of environmental things do you require to be productive and creative? What albums are on your drawing playlist right now?
Mat: Same. Records are key. And tea. Plus biscuits. I generally like a tidy workspace too as I feel it’s conducive to being productive but if you could see my studio right now you’d laugh your cock off at that statement. It’s a fucking tip.
I’m currently reassessing my record collection off the back of a back-breaking house move by listening to every single lp from A to Z and I’m in the Bs right now so lots of Broadcast, Boards of Canada, Bonnie Prince Billy, Black Sabbath and the Beatles (Instagram hashtag #vinylcullatoz if you’re that way inclined…). I have a theory that if somehow you could only listen to music made by artist’s starting with one letter of the alphabet, B would be a strong contender. Think I’d have to wangle it in such a way I could have Captain Beefheart in there too but that kind of works right? Which letter would you choose?
Joe: Oh wow… B is a strong contender.. Beck, Beatles, Black Sabbath, But the idea of restricting to a letter is gut wrenching.. what about C!! Cake, Cave Singers… I do like your approach though. I sorted my vinyl collection biographically like in High Fidelity. I know I know.. but it is nice to revisit eras in my life based on its location on the shelf. And it keeps a lot of the bullshit from cluttering up my favorite zones. I tend to pick like 4-5 albums and play them nonstop for the duration of a project.
Mat: It’s nearly Halloween too so I’m listening to shit loads of John Carpenter soundtracks, the 'Under the Skin’ OST and Death Waltz records.
Oh and Life Without Buildings because I missed them the first time around and they’re incredible.
Joe: The artistic landscape right now changes so dramatically so fast, you and I participated in the gold rush era in the tshirt business. And that seems to have been replaced with this bizarre world of direct to product manufacturing.. (my art on duvet covers… waht?!) But at the same time an etsy revolution with traditional work and one of a kind work also having it’s place in the sun. Where do you see all of this leading? And what sort of opportunities do you see for small independent artists (like us) in the future.
Mat: Ah the golden era of Threadless. Actually I was a little late to that gold rush but it’s certainly evolved a lot since then. I’m not sure where it’s headed to be honest. Seems like everybody is an artist these days with something to sell. It makes me reluctant to get involved. I think for artists like you and I we have to remove ourselves from everything else and just focus on making artwork that moves us and brings us pleasure/contentment, mastering printing techniques and generally just being miserable old bastards.
Not super helpful I admit…
I think it’s great that there are people like you around to carry on great printmaking traditions, steering clear of the industry bullshit and making beautiful work in the process. It was a pleasure to be asked to collaborate and I can’t wait to see who else you work with over the coming months and years.
Joe: Aw thanks so much for that Mat, For people who are not familiar with your work.. gimme some links to share.
Joe: Anything else you wanna mention? about any cool projects you have coming up in the future?
Mat: The first edition of FOLKGORE is coming very soon. I’m also part of a new publishing group called Spirit Duplicator and we have our first release 'Atlantis’ coming out soon featuring artists, poets and writers responses to the theme of Atlantis. It’s fucking great and I can say that as my involvement was relatively minimal.
Joe: Thanks for your time Mat! and thanks so much for working with me on this edition. It will forever more be in the Antiquated Press Archives and that is pretty great.
Mat: Thanks again for asking me and doing such a righteous job with the prints.
For a while now I have been working with the amazing Terry Fan to make these collaborative editions. Leviathan is an edition of 60 and very fine hat is an edition of 30. Terry is a good friend and incomparable talent and I am so happy these are finally available on the AP website. http://www.antiquatedpress.com/Editions/index.php
I feel pretty damn inconsistent when it comes to posting stuff. It would be awesome to say it’s due to being so productive in the AP studio. But unfortunately I cannot use that excuse. I jus been tugged in a lot of directions the last handful of months. Not to say I haven’t done some neat stuff. Like the debut album cover for Kodiak Deathbeds. A wonderful album with the combined talents of Derek Fudesco (Cave Singers) and Amber Webber (Black Mountain) It is a spooky good album. Working with Derek and Amber was excellent, just wonderful artists who restore my faith when it comes to collaborating on the vision side.
At the beginning we decided to do a limited edition of hand made intaglio album covers. SO i approached the project with a 1:1 scale. Which was pretty great. I am a big fan of music and vinyl. Part of my appreciation of analog processes and the brilliant tactile rituals that come along with vinyl LPs.
It is a copper etching on Arches cover, the ink is a graphic chemical renaissance black (my favorite ink)
all the song titles and the album title were etched..
looks pretty swell as an album cover
Each of the limited edition (50) was hand pulled, cut and glued in the AP studio.
Even letterpressed these handbill inserts. ohhh gold metallic ink on arches cover stock..