As of a few days ago, I am in full-on prep mode for the H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival. So what is pre-show prep? As you’ve already seen I carved and printed a woodcut for the Kickstarter. I’m currently waiting on a final count so that I can sign and number the appropriate amount of Magna Mater Maris prints. Those prints will then need certificates, bagging and boarding, and delivery to the festival.
I’m also working my way through the inventory I’ll be taking and making sure I have things properly packaged and priced. I also need to gather together displays and make sure I have all the proper parts for them. Electrical components, such as lamps, need to be checked to make sure they’re working. My Square inventory needs to be updated with new items so the checkout process can run smoothly.
I’m also making a few upgrades to better display some pieces. The color Cthulandia prints in particular now have black 11×14″ mats around them. They’re really gorgeous hand-colored woodcut prints, and they’ve been ignored a bit because it’s easy for 8×10″s to get shuffled in with larger prints and then just not seen. To that end, I’m also finished some of my parchment screen prints and mounting them on boards that are a bit larger than they are. Finishing of these prints is mostly a matter of trimming. I’ll be leaving natural edges mostly alone, but when pieces are rectangular, I like to even out the edges.
I received a message recently from someone who had purchased one of my screen prints, loved it, and wanted to know more about the differences between my woodcuts and screen prints. Since I took the time to write a thorough answer, I thought I ought to share it with everyone. I chose The King in Yellow as an example to discuss the different processes.
To make the woodcut (aka xylograph) I sketch the art, transfer it to a piece of shina plywood, then carve it using knives & gouges (no power tools). Carving this woodcut probably took 10-20 hours. Once the block is refined to my satisfaction, I ink it with a brayer, move it to the press bed, align a sheet of heavy cotton rag paper on it, lay a felt blanket over it, and run it through the hand-cranked etching press. I estimate that in the case of the KiY it takes 10-15 minutes to ink and print each print. The prints then dry in a rack for at least two weeks before I inspect them, destroy the errors, and sign/number the edition. (Incidentally, if you want a King in Yellow woodcut print, I have only two remaining from the edition of 23 as of 4/21/18. Get yours here!)
The screen prints (aka serigraphs) are made by taking a digital scan of one of the original woodcut prints and using it to make a transparency which can be exposed on a photo emulsion coated screen. For the KiY I digitally removed the abstract background because I felt it would clash with the wood grains. I also scaled the image down. I then set up the screen and create a registration jig so I can place my wood veneer sheets in the same position every time. Once I have made my jig, printing each is a process than can take less than a minute. Much of this time is spent taping down the wood, then removing it after the ink is applied and putting it in the drying racks. Drying this ink takes 3 days, then I inspect them and save errors to be reused as registration jigs or to test ink on the back. (Want a King in Yellow serigraph? They are available here.)
Here’s a summary of what is similar between the two formats:
Both are handmade processes & can have minor variations due to the vagaries of wood and inking.
Both are almost entirely made by me. (I sometimes have an assistant tear paper, carry prints to the drying rack, and help clean up.)
Both are made with archival inks, though not the same ink. Both are inspected for quality & packaged with acid free polybags & mats.
Here’s a summary of what is different between the two formats:
Woodcut is the original artwork and is considered a fine art print.
My woodcut prints are signed by me, and typically limited in edition size.
My woodcuts on paper are printed with enough pressure to slightly emboss the paper, which gives them a subtle visual effect that simply doesn’t translate well to photos and scans. The papers I use are archival quality and typically hand-torn instead of cut.
Woodcuts are much slower to print than screen prints. Wood wears down over time, and I use a soft carving wood, so I can only pull so many prints from the woodcut.
Screen prints (as I make them) are reproductions based on the original woodcuts.
The art is altered to better suit the wood veneer I print on, and also scaled down.
The ink applied to the wood does not get embossed.
Wood veneer is not technically considered archival, though it should be long lasting.
Screen prints are faster to produce and are unsigned. When the screen wears out, I can make new screens and continue printing as many as I want.
The artists of The High Art of Hand-Pulled Printmaking will be in attendance from 2-4pm at the Collins Gallery located on the 3rd floor of the Multnomah County Central Library.
We’ll be speaking briefly about our printmaking practices and available for questions. The show, featuring finished prints alongside tools and materials, will be open during regular library hours through September 3rd. My own contribution is a brand new piece from the series I’ve been working on since 2015.
Multnomah County Central Library is located at:
801 SW 10th Ave,
Portland, OR 97205
I’ve had to cut back a bit on work for the past week in order to give the inflamed tendon in my left hand a rest. The process of diagnosis irritated the tendon enough that it went from being a weird sensation to a painful one. The pain mellowed out after a couple days, but I’ve been paying close attention to what actions irritate it, and adjusting accordingly.
Thankfully my left hand is not my dominant hand, so I’ve been sketching, researching, scheming, and continuing to carve at about half my normal rate. Aside from working on the project which shall remain nameless, I’ve been exploring the notion of screen printing on alternate materials. During one of the wood veneer printing sessions, I tested a piece of goatskin parchment to see how well the ink would work with it.
I bungled my first pass but flipped the piece over and managed to get a good crisp print on the 2nd try. Since the ink has dried, I’ve been handling the piece to see how well it is set in — bending, scratching, rubbing the surface — and I’m pleased with the result. Now the question is, what to do with it? In the past when I have printed my woodcuts on parchment, I’ve offered them much the same as I offer prints on paper. The purchaser chooses whether to frame them, tack them up on the wall, collect them in an album, etc. etc. etc. Paper has some limitations with regards to durability. So does parchment, but it also has different properties and potential uses. It could potentially be stretched over a frame, used in book binding, or sewn in to a larger piece of some sort. If stretched over an open frame, it could potentially be illuminated from behind — mind you, I’m not looking to start a lampshade empire, but the possibility of incorporating light into my art is an interesting one.
Now that I know I can print on parchment, I’m keen to experiment with leather as well. I have a fair amount on hand due to my past bookbinding coursework, so I’ve been pulling out my supplies and finding test pieces to print on. You can see a bit of it behind the parchment in the image above. I’ve got a few blues, greens, and reds to work with. and some white and gold screen print ink so I’m not limited to printing only black on light color surfaces.
There’s a bit more prep work to do, but I’m looking forward to an experimental printing day soon!
For those not in the know, Bite Studio is the group studio where I pull all of my prints. It is home to a wide variety of printmakers and we’re only open to the public on First Fridays from 6pm-10pm. Join us if you can! I’m not doing many shows right now in order to focus on my large project (not the piece shown above, though I am working on it as well), but I will be in attendance.
Can’t be there in person? Here’s what will be available framed and unframed at Bite: Signum Advenit and Summoning. Mind you, they always look better in person!
Also on Friday, I’ll be picking up the newest screenprints ahead of the party so April Patreon rewards may be shipped as promptly as possible! If you’d like to be part of April’s subscription shipment, today, March 31st, is the last chance to sign up! If you wait until April to subscribe at the Card of the Month level or above, your first physical rewards will ship in early May.
Thanks to my existing patrons, I’ve been able to add to my screen printing supplies and create the new Tsathoggua on 8 x 10 wood veneer! It, and the King in Yellow, will soon be available to all.
On another note, if you’re wondering what the artwork above is, it was carved during my two Art in Action demos at Norwescon. Sunday’s carving demo was done on little sleep so I probably didn’t get as far as I could have. (I worked with an abundance of caution.) On Friday, my first day of carving, I was placed next to a face painter, so my table was swarmed with kids for quite a bit. It was surprisingly not bad considering I was working with sharp knives.
Small children are actually often more respectful than adults about not grabbing artist tools. One of the girls complemented my goat depiction, told me about their herd of goats, and then asked, “Are those hares? They look more like hares than rabbits.” No idea what she wants to be when she grows up, but her observational skills can surely take her far in life. I’m seriously impressed she picked up on that detail.
Incidentally, I didn’t chose to depict the witches as hares because I knew I’d be carving this on Easter. That was just a nice coincidence. Mostly, I really liked that The VVitch incorporated the hare form of witches into the plot. Carving in my studio may be more productive, but sharing the process with folks who may otherwise never see woodcut in action. Thanks to Norwescon for the opportunity!
Are you as excited about Norwescon 39 as I am? Norwescon will be held in SeaTac March 24th – 27th, and this year’s theme is “Remembering the Future.” As always, there will be plenty of programming designed to appeal to all interests and appetites, including scheduled gaming, midnight movies, dancing, and workshops. You can even learn how to make a movie with some of the creative team from Hellbender Media. There will also be four guests of honor, all distinguished in their respective fields of art, writing, science and publishing, as well as a plethora of professional guests.
As one of the professional guests, I’ll be participating in the following panels and demonstrations in addition to having a display in the art show and unframed prints available in the print bins.
I’ll be demonstrating my carving technique on the new woodcut seen above and will also have a small selection of magnets, cards, and small prints available. You’re welcome to stop by for as little or long as you like. Questions are welcome!
In this workshop, I’ll help to facilitate the dissection and suturing together of stuffed animals to create the plushy chimeras of your dreams. There will be a $5 materials fee. Not for young children or the easily distressed.
We will discuss and share the ways in which disabilities and limitations inform our creative disciplines. I participated in this panel last year and it ended up being a great group discussion with many resources and tips shared. All are welcome and topics are likely to cover managing mental challenges as well as physical.
Handling Your Online Image As An Artist
Friday, 8:00 – 9:00 PM
This workshop will explore how to create an effective online presence to better market your art, develop a fan base, and deepen your relationship with them through social media.
How Big a Fish Do You Need to Be?
Cascade 7 & 8
Saturday, 2:00 – 3:00 PM
Independent creatives will explore what it takes to make a sustainable living as an artist/writer/musician/[insert other creative path here].
I’ll be continuing to carve the new woodcut seen above and as on Friday, will also have a small selection of magnets, cards, and small prints available. You’re welcome to stop by for as little or long as you like. Questions are welcome!
Selling Your Art as Prints & Reproductions
Sunday, 1:00 – 2:00 PM
Have a question about making or selling prints? Then this is the workshop for you. I’ll be discussing Oregon’s fine print laws, and the other panelists and I will be fielding questions about fine prints, giclee, and digital art. Includingthe advantages of DIY vs. fulfillment services, among other topics.
The Business of Art
Sunday, 2:00 – 3:00 PM
This one will cover the not-so-fun but nevertheless indispensable aspects of making a living as an artist: health insurance, taxes, self-promotion, marketing, work/life balance, and more.
Aside from the above scheduled events, you’ll also be likely to find me around the art show — it’s a big show and I like to take my time exploring it. Please don’t hesitate to stop and say “hi” if you see me about!
A book I contributed to, A Rose Veiled in Black, has begun shipping! I’ll be unveiling the artwork made for it online after my return from Norwescon.
I’ve been updating my Patreon blog regularly. If you’ve not checked it out yet, there are both public posts and special Patron’s Only posts to be found there. You can also use Patreon to subscribe for monthly art shipments starting as low as $8 a month! Subscriptions are charged and shipped on the first of every month, so if you’d like to be part of April’s shipment, you need to join before the end of March.
That’s all for now. I hope Spring is treating you well!
The 17th was my birthday, and I celebrated by continuing to unpack from my Pantheacon trip, which was both incredibly fun and exhausting! I’ve also just launched something I’ve been quietly working on since last year: a Patreon page!
For those of you not already in the know, Patreon is a crowdfunding resource oriented toward ongoing financial support for independent creators. Whereas traditional crowdfunding websites aim to raise a set dollar amount in a limited timeframe, Patreon allows sponsors to make ongoing contributions to the artists of their choice. It also allows creators to blog easily, and offer both public and patrons-only posts. You can pledge as much or as little per month as you like, and receive different rewards (both digital and physical) depending on your level of sponsorship. It’s an incredible, symbiotic way for creators of all stripes to develop and maintain an ongoing relationship with their supporters, and to give back to those supporters in tangible ways. In some ways, it’s reminiscent of the old-school tradition of artistic patronage (think the Medici family) that used to be artists’ main source of income.
When I launched my Patreon a few short days ago, my most immediate goal was to raise enough money to purchase more screenprinting equipment. This would allow me to expand the selection of wood veneer postcards and 8 x 10 screenprints I unveiled at PantheaCon last week. At this time I’m offering four different screenprint designs and three new wood cards, and I’d love to be able to make more. I had high hopes yesterday when I launched the Patreon, but I was nevertheless floored when several new supporters helped me reach my first goal in only a few hours. The instant positive response has been hugely encouraging, and I’m already hard at work setting new goals and brainstorming more rewards for new patrons.
Speaking of which, let’s talk a little about what kinds of rewards are on offer. As with other crowdfunding sites, Patreon is based on a system of contribution and reward. Depending on the dollar amount you pledge each month, you’ll receive one or more rewards to thank you for your patronage. At the $1 level, you’ll receive my thanks. $2 will earn you access to my patrons-only Patreon feed, as well as early ordering privileges for new prints. Higher reward levels are a variety of subscription services: a wood card of the month, a monthly print from my Zodiac series, a grab-bag of surprises that may include early and experimental woodcut prints as well as other items, and more. (And given the very positive feedback I’ve gotten in under 24 hours, it’s clear that I’ll need to diversify the range of rewards even more.) How much you contribute each month is up to you, and every single pledge helps assure a steady flow of new art!
Before I sign off, let me take a moment to remind you that I’ll be in Seattle, Washington for Norwescon 39 next month. I hope to see many familiar faces there and make a few new friends as well. Until then, I hope February is treating you kindly.
Soon I’ll be boarding a plane to San Jose for PantheaCon 2016, my first event of the year, and one of the few I’m attending as I work on my big project. This annual conference of Pagans and heathens coinciding with President’s Day weekend boasts more than 200 presentations and attracts over 2000 guests every year. This year, its 22nd year running, PantheaCon’s theme will be “Change Makers,” inviting attendees to ask ourselves how we bring change into our lives and the Pagan world. (If you’re interested in learning more about the history of PantheaCon and what it’s like to attend, check out Heather Greene’s blog post about last year’s conference.
I’m happy to be returning to PantheaCon for my second year, and looking forward to reconnecting with a couple of old friends and fellow artists: Catamara Rosarium of Rosarium Blends, and Laura Tempest Zakroff of Owlkeyme Arts. I’ll also be bringing with me a sizable selection of new items. I understand that not everybody has the resources to buy an original woodcut print, and since enthusiasts of my work continue to express interest in lower-priced items, I’ve been happy to oblige with a selection of silkscreened graphic T-shirts, and now some new 8×10 screen-prints. Each of these pieces is created by hand, and like my popular assortment of wood cards they are all printed on real wood veneer.
This PantheaCon, I’ll be debuting the first of said screen-prints including the Salamander seen above at left. Additionally, I’ll be offering a variety of silkscreened graphic T-shirts featuring my art produced in collaboration with my friends at Sigh Co. Graphics. (More on my relationship with Sigh Co. in this previous blog post.) But while new work and new products are always exciting, I must admit that it’ll be hard to top the thrill—not to mention the sheer romance—of meeting Krampus in the flesh (the fur?) last year on Valentine’s Day. Here we are together at right, and as you can see he was awfully pleased with my portrait of him. At least, I think he was pleased. The glistening fangs make him a little hard to read.
Remembering how eager conference attendees were to collect badge ribbons at last year’s PantheaCon, I’ll be sure to bring along some Xylographile ribbons you can use to broadcast your love of woodcut, and identify your fellow xylographiles! Maybe if we’re feeling really ambitious we can form a marauding band of woodcut aficionados.
PantheaCon 2016 will run February 12 – 15 at the Doubletree Hotel in San Jose, California. Pre-registration has closed, but if you haven’t done so already you can still register onsite. For a more comprehensive picture of this year’s offerings, check out the PantheaCon 2016 program guide, peruse the full list of vendors, and visit PantheaCon’s Facebook group for news and updates.
Also, stay tuned for more about my upcoming trip to the 2016 H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival in San Pedro, an event I’ve only just added to this year’s events schedule. It should be a creepy/maddening/delightful old time!
A part of my artistic life that I haven’t discussed much so far but take a tremendous amount of pride in is my creative partnership with Portland’s own Sigh Co. Graphics. These are the talented folks who make it possible for me to offer hand-silkscreened shirts and tote bags featuring my art. If you’ve attended any of my recent sales events, it’s very likely that they were vending at a nearby table piled high with Xylographilia shirts, as well as shirts featuring their own original graphic designs. Sigh Co.’s work is inspired by the fiction of H.P. Lovecraft, horror film and literature, the occult, and other influences, and includes an eclectic range of items from clothing to glassware and beyond.
Sigh Co. was founded in New Orleans, Louisiana by Brian and Gwen Callahan. After eight years in business, they pulled up stakes and relocated to Portland, Oregon where they have made their home ever since. True to the artisanal spirit associated with Portland, Sigh Co. is a small, locally owned operation specializing in handmade goods that help to support self-employed artists. Of the many reasons I value my partnership with them, at the top of list is the knowledge that together we’re offering high-quality products printed in the USA. The closest attention is paid to ensure that each silkscreened design is a crisp, faithful reproduction of the original woodcut print: a testament to Sigh Co.’s pride in their craftsmanship.
The current collection of Xylographilia shirts features my Raven, Wyrm, and Phoenix, as well as a Shub-Niggurath work shirt with my Ram on the front pocket, and a newly redesigned Cthulhu work shirt with the addition of a Lovecraftian “Eye of Providence” that I designed especially for Sigh Co. There’s also that year-round favorite, the Krampus shirt.
We’re considering adding new designs to the inventory, so if there’s a particular woodcut you’d like to see made available as a shirt or tote bag, drop us a line! It may just turn up in the future.
As you may already know from my most recent post, I’m in the process of creating a new edition specifically for the Kickstarter campaign supporting the 20th annual H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival. This print is inspired by this year’s festival theme—Expedition to R’lyeh—based on the concept of Miskatonic University professors Henry Armitage and William Dyer journeying to the South Pacific in search of the enigmatic island.
Those of you acquainted with Lovecraft mythos will recognize Henry Armitage as the librarian who first appeared in The Dunwich Horror. In this short story, a frighteningly disfigured social pariah named Wilbur Whateley harbors an unearthly presence in his home. Over the years it grows and grows until it fills the entire house, killing Wilbur’s mother, grandfather, and a number of cows in the process. Desperate to rid himself of the ghastly entity, Wilbur travels to Miskatonic University to obtain a copy of the Necronomicon, seeking instructions for summoning the Great Old One Yog-Sothoth. There he encounters university librarian Dr. Henry Armitage, who refuses to lend him the book.
Likewise, geology professor William Dyer makes his first appearance in The Mountain of Madness, in which he leads a catastrophic expedition to Antarctica. Later, in The Shadow Out of Time, he accompanies an expedition to Australia’s Great Sandy Desert. (Given how horror has a way of finding him wherever he goes, one wonders whether Dyer is really the best choice of a traveling companion.)
This year’s H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival theme is based on the idea of Armitage and Dyer joining forces and mounting an expedition to Lovecraft’s famous island of R’lyeh. With documents pulled straight from the Miskatonic University library archives they’ve calculated the date of the island’s next sighting, and participants in this year’s festival have the opportunity to experience the excitement firsthand through our Kickstarter exclusives. These rewards include an expedition log book, a map of R’lyeh, a box of artifacts, and more. For just this occasion, I’ve designed an original hand-pulled woodcut print based on the sort of imagery one might find in the Miskatonic University rare book rooms. The finished piece, Signum Advenit, is an example of the type of illustration Armitage and Dyer would have used to calculate their journey to the lost city of R’lyeh.
In this woodcut, we see a seated figure with a book at her feet burning incense in an upturned human skull: an offering to those whose return she seeks. The figure, though apparently human from the waist up, has a mermaid-like tail evocative of the siren: a denizen of the deep notorious for luring unsuspecting fishermen to a watery death. (Indeed, a shipwreck can be seen vanishing into the waves behind her.) In the background we see R’lyeh depicted as a walled medieval city, a staple of the 15th-century woodcuts on which this piece is based. Above, a comet containing a key descends from the sky while a cosmic eye keeps watch. This is the sign that “the stars are right” to raise R’lyeh from the sea. Attentive observers will notice that the sky contains twenty stars, a nod to the 20th anniversary of the H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival.
While the Kickstarter campaign has already been fully funded, it isn’t too late to get your hands on one of these limited edition commemorative prints. Contributing toward stretch goals at the Cryptic Design, VIP Yog-Sothoth, Traveler from Beyond the Stars, and All Access levels and above will entitle backers to a rewards package including an original hand-pulled print of their very own. You also have the option of adding Signum Advenit to your rewards at any level for an additional $70.
Finally, if you’re interested in a behind-the-scenes look at the making of Signum Advenit, check out this video to see its very first inking!