Ben Kafton is 20 years old and has taken a few college courses here and there. Most of his work combines color and graphic design elements including architecture, diagrams, and quite a bit of photography motifs. He currently lives in Northern Utah in a small rural town.
How did you get started in printmaking?
When I was about 5 years old both of my parents owned a printshop for a few years and they had an old letterpress that I was fond of. My father has been an offset printer for over 20 years, so it seems I have always had a love for paper and printing.
My personal start with printmaking came after a friend of mine in high school began screen printing, and I decided it was something I wanted to get into. Between learning from my friend I taught myself everything else by reading instructional books and watching various videos.
Describe where you work.
I currently work outside of my bedroom. I have built in cabinets with an added counter top. The counter doubles as a place to draw and design from as well as laying out all the paper and inks to create my prints.
What's your favourite printmaking process?
I have only tried linocuts and screen printing. Currently it is definitely screen printing, but would really like to learn other methods of the printmaking process.
What's your creative process for any given print? (eg. sketch first? Pre-planned or free-form?)
Almost everything is pre-planned with a sketch but I am also one who likes to experiment. At any given time, I usually have quite a few screens lying around that still have an image exposed in it. I will take that screen and a few others and just free hand a unique composition of some kind.
What do you enjoy most about printmaking?
I like how much of a solid color you can produce really quickly with just a swipe of ink. I like being able to produce the same image over and over, but still able to switch things up and add various things to each print to make each piece original. I really enjoy mixing inks and coming up with a interesting color pattern. Lastly, I enjoy how therapeutic it can be when printing and pulling the squeegee across over and over.
What's your least favorite part of the process?
It is definitely cleaning up, and washing the screens out!
What are your inspirations (other artists, people, places, events, etc.)?
I have quite a few inspirations. Lately I have been drawn to graphic design artwork found in old 1940 - 1960’s Art magazines namely Graphis as well as West Vaco Inspiration for Printers. In addition, I am very fond of gig posters that other artists have screen printed for a variety of different shows, I love looking at typography and its use in a given composition.
How has your work changed and evolved since you started?
At first I would just draw things and screen print them for no rhyme or reason. Now I like to draw things, decide whether I should keep it or not. If I end up keeping the drawing I will usually draw it again, and make it a lot more interesting and add more elements.
How do you get past creative slumps?
Lately I have not had as many creative slumps as it were. I have read quite a few things about productivity and creativity. One thing that has stuck with me has been to try and create a routine of some kind each day where I will draw or design something at a particular time. With that being said though there is still quite a bit of spontaneity in my work.
To answer the question though, I have quite a few art books that I will take a look at, go for a walk and take a few photographs or watch an episode of “Alfred Hitchcock Presents.”
How do you promote your work?
Mainly just through Etsy, but I try to add things daily on Flickr. I have also been to a few art and craft fairs. I am planning on selling my artwork at various events this year including Renegade Craft Fair. Other than that, I also screen print t-shirts and wear my designs almost on a daily basis.
Any other comments or advice for others who want to try making hand-pulled prints?
For me personally it is the single greatest thing that I have ever learned to do. If you have an itch to try, definitely try it out. Take a class and learn, learn, learn and then create away!