Couldn’t resist the title. It’s appropriate title given that this poster is a flood of dark grey covered with a near-flood of black. Why didn’t you just print on black paper? It ain’t the same. You don’t get the same image depth or velvety deep, deep black that you would get with ink.
I’ve loved Garbage since I was in high school in the 90s. Developing imagery for some posters is difficult, for this one it wasn’t. I actually spent some hours making a much more elaborate bouquet and patterns in the background and ultimately came back to this earlier, simpler “proof-of-concept” version. Silkscreen, four colors, 25″ x 15″.
After having designed The Riverbreaks’ CD last summer, they came back with plans for a vinyl release. I’d been wanting to do a record cover for years. After much fist pumping, I agreed to not only design the record, but to also screenprint the entire run rather than take it to an outside printer. I also ran a poster edition in support of the release show. For each of the covers, I used a freehand method of making color bands using silkscreen ink pickup up with a relief printing brayer. The story is better told through a video clip. I broke printing that layer into 5 sessions on different nights, still the repetition resulted in temporary numbness and tingling my left hand.
Covers: edition of 300, three colors on the front, black text on the reverse. Uncoated, pre-converted kraft paperboard with two color inner labels. Posters: edition of 80, four colors, all using the same screen stencil in a staggered step-and-repeat.
Not only are the Riverbreaks good people, they’re damn fine musicians. Wildfire on vinyl is available at Som Records, Crooked Beat, and Red Onion in DC, and at their live shows. Listen to and buy their music online at Bandcamp or on iTunes.
In January I gave another workshop through Knowledge Commons DC, a free school that covers nearly any topic you can imagine. This one discussed how to drawing and painting supplies from alternative materials. Mostly food and other readily-available organic materials.
Having taken a crash-course in ink making at Pyramid Atlantic some weeks before, I new the basics of pigment-collection and stabilization, but ended up doing a number of experiments prior to the class. Some materials worked surprisingly well, others were utter failures. I ground some very burnt toast with using a mortar & pestle and blended it with a linseed oil-based relief printing medium. The particles in the ink were still to large to allow a clean relief print, but if applied densely enough would yield a very gritty, textured woodblock or cut-foam print. I boiled down a few pounds of spinach juice, which turned brown-black after being exposed to air for a couple days. I had difficulty concentrating tea and kool-aid enough to produce a true ink from it. However, instant coffee makes a very warm, solid tone. Not archival due to its acid content, of course. Boiled-down blueberries make a great violet hue, which turns bluer as it dries and has great transparency. I blended coffee and blueberry pigments with off-the-shelf potato starch (pictured in the print below). Squid ink is also a great natural tone. It gives a smooth, very neutral grey. Doesn’t lean warm or greenish/bluish.
In the workshop, we covered different materials from which to make pigment, and which methods to use. Students made their own prints using blueberry and coffee inks.
If you’re wondering, blueberry ink is delicious. Made with a natural binder of course.
This coming Saturday (March 23). Pleasant Plains Workshop is hosting a solo show of my brother Josh Dihle’s work. It will also feature a small collaborative animal-based project (snippet above) that’s currently in progress. Our first collab since many sidewalk chalk drawings. See the Facebook event page for details.
Big thanks to everyone who gave in PPW’s expansion fundraising efforts. We topped $7,000 through our Indiegogo campaign and about $2,000 more through our taco party. I’ve officially moved my studio space next door to 2606 Georgia Avenue—so now PPW “one” is a lil bigger for shows.
As you may know, Fire Studio lives within a shared space known as Pleasant Plains Workshop. We’re growing! Fire and PPW are moving into the former Soul Vegetarian’s Exodus restaurant space next door. It’s exciting but we’ve got work to do. The washout sink and exposure unit will be in the former kitchen. To raise some capital for the studio transformation, we’re holding an Indiegogo campaign (click here). If you donate $250, I will design and print an edition of posters for an event or occasion of your choosing (limited to one donor—see other perks).
As a DC native and resident (ok, grew up in Maryland), I sometimes hear people remark that DC doesn’t feel like home, they don’t particularly like living there and will likely move away soon. I don’t feel this way. It feels more like home to me than any other city. I love the variety, neighborhoods, food, people—and am a lifelong Skins fan. I made these simple prints to sell at Crafty Bastards for others who don’t mind (or even love) calling DC home.
It’s a three color woodblock print. The background is plywood, the second two layers are carved balsa wood. Each layer is pressed to the block by hand. I’ve been selling them at here and online via my Scoutmob shop.
I love Halloween. The spookiness, the gore. Love making Halloween things. Jack-o-lanterns, gruesome scarecrows, decorations. So was more than happy to do a poster for Fillmore’s Halloween show featuring Umphrey’s McGee.
This was one of the most experimental and dodgy posters I’ve made, owing to uncertainties of material/technique, and Hurricane Sandy pressing these into production. It began as a four-tone screenprint with a black woodblock layer overtop, with glowing yellow accents in the eyes in just a few of the prints. I used dremel tool to carve the plywood block (have a strong wrist and dust mask), using oil-based offset litho or letterpress ink. I had difficulty blending the transparent silkscreen layers, so ended up printing an additional fifth layer to get a lighter, green-er green.
For the block printing, I needed a broad brayer that wouldn’t leave edge marks, so I wrapped a rolling pin with a piece of towel, secured with rubber bands. The woodblock layer printed fine, except that the oil-based ink provided scarce coverage, and took far too long to print each piece. So I switched to black silkscreen ink. This worked fine except that some detail was lost in the wood grain, and the carved text quickly became clogged. So I used a scrap piece of film and improvised a text layer to be screenprinted in white or red over the almost-finished print.
I headed out to paste some up last night after finishing, with Hurricane Sandy already coming in. We’ll see if any are still up on Wednesday. Or tomorrow morning.
This is Fire Studio’s second album for our friends The Riverbreaks, following last year’s Get You Right. Wildfire’s look takes after the band’s Southern and international influences, and is somewhat of a continuation of the work started in the mermaid poster from about a year ago.
Wildfire uses conventional 4-color offset printing, with 5-color screenprinting on the disc. The art elements are a collection mostly of found objects and type. I raided my image library for scanned resources such as letterpress posters, mexican posters, newspaper clippings, and scanned wood blocks and ornaments. Wildfire will be available for purchase soon; for live dates and more info follow The Riverbreaks on twitter @TheRiverbreaks.
In June I was invited to participate in The Cafeteria Show by Masthead studio and gallery in Philadelphia. Masthead is an inky work-live-show space in a good printmaking city. I was happy to participate. I did a run of ten art prints modeled after Fla-Vor-Ice pops. Otter Pops are a similar version in other parts of the country. I grew up with Fla-Vor-Ice at summer camp and sitter’s houses. It’s simple colored sugar, and you always end up with sticky fingers no matter how careful you are.
It’s printed without a stencil, seven colors, on Arches cold-press paper. Since it’s watercolor paper, it stood up very well to the amount of ink. The spoonfuls of ink on the dense paper blended with each other only slightly through the edition. I wanted a dead-simple, unfinished frame. I made it of 1×3 white pine stock, with no glass between the ink and the viewer.
The show is over (forgive the late post), but Masthead usually has something interesting going on. While in Philly, check out Monk’s, one of the best Belgian beer bars in the country.
I recently illustrated/designed the cover of the comics journal Magic Bullet, issue 5. With the help of Matt Dimbicki, I managed to weasel my way into the press run. Magic Bullet is printed on a “web press” (has nothing to do with the internet) which is named for its likeness to a spider’s web as the continuous sheet of paper weaves its was through the print works of the enormous, four-story press. I’ll also be screenprinting the cover of MB #5 as a poster too, and will get into the illustration and process in a future post.
Having never visited a web press, it’s a fascinating experience for anyone even remotely interesting in old-school graphic arts, hardware, optics, ink, and very large rolls of paper. Newspapers have been printed on web presses for decades. It’s very, very fast, and economical if you’ve got a big print edition. The rolls of raw newsprint can weigh around a ton, and are moved on tracks around the press. The cyan, yellow, magenta, and black inks are used in such vast amounts that the ink is not poured or spread into the presses, but it plumbed to the machines in corresponding CMYK pipes. This press was made in Japan and is about 4 levels/stories tall. It takes a team of specialists to run it, and can take a little while to set up, but once it gets rolling it prints, cuts, folds, and binds at a blindingly fast speed. You can see a short video I took on the MB #5 Facebook group page (scroll down a bit).
The people at FNP Printing are among the most friendly and accommodating print folks I’ve ever met. If you need a web press job printed, I highly recommend contacting them to bid. Magic Bullet #5 is on shelves now at comic stores in the DC/MD/VA area, and will be available at SPX this fall.