John's Etsy Site and My Space Site are linked at the bottom of this interview.
I live in a small town in Pennsylvania. I love music, strange old things, cats and screen printing. I never went to art school.
How did you get started in printmaking?
My senior year of high school I took a graphics class, mostly because I wanted to make t-shirts. I loved doing it and that summer got a job at a local screen printing shop. I spent the next two summers printing family reunion, pizza shop and little league t-shirts and I loved it! A couple years later, I booked a show and the one band had screen printed posters. I thought that poster was the coolest thing ever. I fell in love all over again and eventually started to print posters of my own.
Describe where you work
Everything is done in my apartment. The actual printing is done in my kitchen, my living room floor is my “drying rack”, and I expose screens in my bathroom. It’s not pretty, but it works. There are days I get frustrated and feel like I am living in my printing space rather than printing in my living space, but I get over it. Someday I would like to have a more dedicated printing space though.
Screen printing hands down, although there are some (methods) I have never delved into. I love the boldness and thickness of the colors, dragging the squeegee across the screen, then lifting it up and seeing what was just created.
What's your creative process for any given print?
After I have some sort of idea of where I am going with it I will start doing some little sketches. They are tiny and very rough, consisting of stick figures and notes in the margins. If people saw them they would think I was the worst artist ever. It’s like when your third grade teacher tried to draw an example of an Indian canoe on the black board and it looked like a radio riding in a banana. Once I have one that I like I jump in and start drawing it out. I try to use computers as little as possible along the way. I like things to look gritty and handmade. There is probably a Photoshop filter for “gritty and handmade”. Screw that! I search for ideas on a computer and sometimes do halftones and such on there, but I do my lettering, drawing, and color separations by hand.
What do you enjoy most about printmaking?
That’s a tough one. There are a few things I really love. I love being able to draw and be creative. It’s an outlet for me. I love actually printing and seeing the work I have put in turn into something; like I said before, lifting the screen and seeing what you have made. Especially when it’s the last color and you get to see this image in your head right there on the paper, how it was meant to be. Maybe it’s just how you imagined all along or maybe it’s a touch different, but there it is, right in front of you! That’s exciting!
I love sharing my art, meeting people, and getting their feedback. I like hearing what people have to say about my work and how it makes them feel. Maybe they get something different out of it than I felt when I made it, or than I intended, but that’s the beauty of any art. It is right there in front of you as it exists, it looks the same to everyone. However every moment of your life up until you see that piece effects how it makes you feel. That feeling you get could be drastically different than the person next to you or even the artist. The fact everyone can take something different away is what really makes art amazing and powerful to me.
Cleaning. Does anyone say anything other than cleaning? If I could I would have a setup like that episode of the Simpsons where Homer sees where the bowling pins come from, but with screens.
What are your inspirations (other artists, people, places, events, etc.)?
Jay Ryan, Leia Bell, Drew Millward, street art, cartoons, old roadside attractions, my friends Jeremy, Ryan and Tim's art, music, things I find at the flea market, horror movies, cryptozoology, old circus posters.
How has your work changed and evolved since you started?
I'd like to think I have gotten better.
How do you get past creative slumps?
How do you promote your work?
I do interviews for awesome blogs about printmaking! I make flyers and post on message boards. I guess I promote like someone would promote their band, cause that's what is familiar to me. Occasionally I set up at punk rock flea markets or alternative craft fair type events too.
My first bit of advice is just jump in and do it. Don't worry if you're good or not, it's not that important. Art totally changed for me the day I figured out that you don't have to be good. I grew up in the punk scene and its just like punk bands, they aren't very good at playing their instruments, but there is a passion there. Just do what you want to do, put your heart into it, and you will probably be surprised how it goes. Someone will like it. Then you will enjoy creating and you will accidentally get better.
For all those printing at home, CLR will clean all the ink and emulsion out of your bathtub. Don't get too attached to your security deposit. Ink gets on stuff, it's just what it does. Lock your cat in another room when you print. There is a reason cats don't screen print, they aren't very good at it.
John’s My Space Site
John’s Etsy Site