Sunday, December 4, 2011

Interview with Rich Fowler of Boarding All Rows


I grew up in the Midwest (U.S.), although I spent some of my childhood in a small English town. The San Francisco Bay Area is now home and is where I first took an interest in printmaking. I come from a family with different creative interests like art, photography, and music, but it wasn’t until recent years that I seriously explored that side of my brain as an adult.

Why do you like to print?

I was first attracted to linocut printmaking because it’s an art form requiring little in the way of equipment and doesn’t involve sitting in front of a computer, which I was already doing a lot in my job. The process of carving the block and then experimenting while printing got me hooked. I like that a hand-pulled print tactilely reflects the printing process – the layers of ink, the embossing on the paper – it has clearly not come out of an inkjet printer.

What is your favorite print medium and why?

Relief printmaking, at this point, appeals to me the most, although I really enjoy producing drypoint prints because the process is a nice contrast. I’m drawn to the free-flowing graphic designs for which linocut is well suited. The challenge of making multi-color prints – both making them visually catching and registering the blocks accurately – drive me to improve and expand my work. I get a deep sense of satisfaction when I peel the paper off an inked block – revealing the good, the bad and the ugly.

How long have you been printing and how has your work evolved?

I started printmaking in 2009 and my first pieces were simple linocut designs. Last year I took a couple workshops, such as at KALA Art Institute in Berkeley, that taught me how to make multi-color prints using a key block, which opened my eyes to more sophisticated compositions.

Another evolution has been to fight my natural inclination to produce images that are close representations of their subjects. I’ve tried to beat that out of me through drawing classes.

What inspires you?

Travel is a passion of mine, and maps, the outdoors, old poster art, and typography are all themes I enjoy exploring. I use a lot of my own photography from travels for brainstorming new ideas. The work of woodblock printmakers such as Tom Killion and Gustave Baumann, as well as the incredible Japanese ukiyo-e artists, were a revelation. I find the groundbreaking, graphic designs of early 20th century poster art – the typography, illustrations, colors, layouts – wonderfully inspiring.

How do you promote your work?

Promotion is not my strong suit but I recently designed a website and an artist page on Facebook. I also participate in some of the community aspects of Etsy, which make it such a unique forum for selling artwork. I’m a member of a local art association, which puts on an annual art show, too. In the future, I hope to have more face-to-face interaction with the public by selling at street fairs and art festivals.

Are you working on any particular projects now?

I keep a long list of possible projects as they come to me, often letting them ruminate for a while as I think of different ways to compose them or simply work on a technique before investing the time on a new print. A Japanese train linocut, that I shelved for months but am now finishing, is a great example. Many of my recent projects have featured airport-related themes. I have a soft spot for airports.

Tell us one random fact about yourself

In 2006, I traveled around Asia and the Pacific for four months – trekking in the Himalaya, fending off leaches and drinking rice wine with a shaman in the jungles of Borneo, and volunteering at an elementary school in the Cook Islands.

Check out Rich's Etsy Shop and Website

1 comment:

Heidi Rand said...

I love Rich's work, and found his explanation of his process and preference for this medium fascinating. Thanks for a great portrait!