Posts Tagged ‘101’

101 things I learned from making 101 prints, Part 5

Saturday, February 13th, 2010

After finishing the 101 Woodblock Print Project (printing 101 all-different woodblock prints), comes this series of 101 things I learned by making these prints.

These 101 prints are for sale to email newsletter subscribers (sign up at left). They will be available to everyone in a couple week, but the price increases by about 7x. As a promotion, I am selling them for the price the materials and shipping cost me, nothing more. If you prefer to spend less money rather than more money, act now.

The last 20 prints are going to be uploaded to the sales gallery today, so all the latest, freshest prints are freshly available.

Previously, in this series of 101 things I learned by making 101 Woodblock prints:

The Last 21 Things I learned by making 101 Woodblock Prints

  1. If it starts to take twice as long to carve a block as you thought it would, relax, and get to it. Don’t take any shortcuts, you will be glad you didn’t.
  2. When you are happy with what you accomplished after a long day of work, that is following your passion.
  3. You may not always be passionate about following your passion. Gruel it out.
  4. Leverage your day job as much as possible, but don’t sacrifice performance. Remember what pays the bills.
  5. When you are stuck, not sure what to do next, do the first thing you think of.
  6. The first dollar that you receive from selling your artwork is going to feel really good. I still have mine.
  7. Framed art looks fantastic.
  8. Variety can extend your theme further
  9. Once you have a theme to work with, make small changes to add variety
  10. Get comfortable with selling your work, and accepting money for it.
  11. Learn how to sell your stuff. There are people that probably wouldn’t buy $10 bills for $5, unless you sold them on it.
  12. Don’t worry if you don’t feel excited when you finish. It just means you have bigger things to move on to.
  13. Plan for success.
  14. Keep working.
  15. If you get sick of your project, keep working.
  16. Keep working.
  17. When you are not sure what to do next, keep working
  18. Keep working
  19. When you finish the project, move on to the next, and keep working.
  20. Keep working
  21. Did I mention, keep working?

101 things I learned from making 101 prints, Part 4

Friday, February 12th, 2010

I know what’s been on your mind. After reading the first 20 things I learned, then things I learned numbers 21 through 40, followed by 41 through 60, you are dying to hear the next 20!

If you are new to this list, then you should know the story. I decided to make 101 Woodblock Prints, all different. I recently finished, and they are for sale to newsletter subscribers. Sign up if you wanna buy art for very few dollars.

So here are the next twenty things I learned by making one-hundred and one woodblock prints.

  1. It’s ok to waste some unused ink. You don’t have to use every part of the buffalo.
  2. There might be another use for that leftover ink though.
  3. There may be ways to use a woodblock that you initially did not think of. Look for those uses.
  4. Develop a fast, easy, and reliable registration system. The extra time upfront is worth it in the long term.
  5. Leaving a project unfinished because you don’t feel like working on it anymore is not acceptable. Or rather, it just won’t get you anywhere.
  6. Most art stores have a horribly small selection of relief printmaking supplies. Don’t count on them.
  7. Order from McClain’s Printmaking Supplies. They rock. Other places I’ve ordered from suck.
  8. Call of Duty is the enemy of productivity (though I am lethal with a silenced SCAR)
  9. Good friends will offer good encouragement
  10. Surround yourself with motivated people.
  11. It feels really nice when people like your art. REALLY nice.
  12. It’s even nicer when they email you and tell you they like it. HINT.
  13. Don’t expect everyone to get it.
  14. Feeling understood is one of the most nourishing things in life.
  15. When you get so tired you make stupid mistakes, stop working
  16. Nurture every relationship that comes your way.
  17. Seek out new relationships and connections to strengthen your personal web.
  18. The internet is a time waster. Unplug when time to work (do as I say, not as I do)
  19. When you pull the print off of the final block, and it looks great, it’s ok to actually yell a “woohoo out loud.
  20. When you hang your art in your window to dry, include a sign directing folks to your website. You never know who is walking by.

101 things I learned from making 101 prints, Part 3

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

After putting up the first 20 then the next 20 things I learned by making 101 Woodblock Prints, it is time for….

The 41st through 60th thing I learned by making 101 Woodblock Prints.

  1. “Eyeballing it” is not a reliable registration method
  2. White erasers can erase quite a bit, including stray ink marks on the paper.
  3. To spend the time it takes to make art good enough to impress chicks, you won’t have any free time for chicks.
  4. After 10 hours of work, beer tastes good.
  5. 12 hours spent focusing on carving 1 block is mentally draining.
  6. 3 hours, on the other hand, is no big deal.
  7. It takes a long time to make art, and a long time to market art. Doing both takes even longer.
  8. Decorative art is ok. People like it.
  9. Wood is more delicate to carve than linoleum, and also, it prints better.
  10. Cheap brayers will deteriorate over time. I already told you to get good ones.
  11. Your least favorite art might be someone else’s most favorite art.
  12. It’s ok to take risks, sometimes you will be surprised at the results.
  13. Sometimes you will be surprised at how bad the results are too.
  14. Pay attention to everything you do, it is information to learn from.
  15. Different colors have different pigment strength. Learn what’s what.
  16. Some colors are naturally transparent. I’m looking at you, Prussian Blue and Pthalo Green.
  17. Speaking of Prussian Blue, it is a surprisingly beautiful color.
  18. Always test the color on paper after you mix it on your palette. It will look different on paper.
  19. Trust your gut. If a color doesn’t seem right for a print, don’t use it.
  20. The most important influence on how productive your morning will be is the prior evening.

Check back tomorrow to read the next 20 lessons.

Feel free to subscribe to the RSS feed (check the link up on the left) to get it in your RSS reader automatically)

101 things I learned from making 101 prints, Part 2

Wednesday, February 10th, 2010

I know. This list should have been 3, 5, 7, or 10 long. Not 101.

20 a day is a ton. 101 total is waaaay too many. people who like art, however, and thus, my website, are smarter and sexier than average. I have faith.

Don’t worry, most of these are mere trifles, and won’t require any thought.

There may be one or two hidden in there that have some nuggets of wisdom…

Without any more waiting, continuing from the first 20 things I learned,

20 more things I learned by making 101 Woodblock Prints

  1. Someone else might like most what you like least.
  2. Photograph your art during the day, in the morning, when you have the most natural light available. Indoor lighting is awful for photos.
  3. Give a print a night or two before pasing judgment. It might look better in the morning. Or worse. Either way, give it time.
  4. The color will look darker when it is printed than it does on the palette. Context changes how things appear.
  5. If you leave your computer on to take notes/post to twitter/whatever, you are gonna get ink on the keys
  6. If you are not careful opening ink jars and getting ink out, it will splatter, and your walls will look like a Jackson Pollock painting
  7. Order a LOT more transparent medium than anything else.
  8. People will take pictures of your apartment if you hang your art in the window to dry.
  9. Good ink is worth the extra 15 bucks a jar
  10. I need better brayers.
  11. Cotton rag paper isn’t the best for relief printing, even if it looks nice. Get washi.
  12. Do people care about what goes into making art? I don’t know.
  13. Watching TV in the background will just slow you down.
  14. Listening to audio books won’t slow you down.
  15. Listening to heavy metal will speed you up.
  16. Especially if it is Slayer.
  17. Especially if it is “Reign in Blood“, Slayer’s fastest album (210 beats per minute average!)
  18. Don’t cut corners.
  19. Also, don’t carve corners (or yourself).
  20. And definitely don’t ink the corners.

Curious what the next 20 lessons are? Click to read numbers 41 through 60, amigo. You can also read numbers 61 through 80, muchahco!

101 things I learned from making 101 prints, Part 1

Tuesday, February 9th, 2010

I finished my 101 Woodblock Series the other night, so I thought, what better time to make a list post?

Everyone needs a snack.

These 101 prints were a lot of work. They are for sale to newsletter subscribers for the price of a latte at Starbucks. They go on sale to everyone in a week or two, and the price is gonna go up to about 25 bucks. If you want one, you save over 20 bucks by buying one now. Sign up for the email newsletter to get the goods.

Moving on, a list in many parts..

101 things I learned by making 101 prints.

  1. 101 is a lot of something to make.
  2. Making one hundred and one is as simple as Making 1, then repeating 100 times.
  3. Pink is an easy color to make look good.
  4. Orange isn’t. Sorry, Orange.
  5. Art is a product, like any other. It just has a different set of emotions attached.
  6. Reduction printmaking requires more planning than you did.
  7. Not all 9″x12″ blocks are the same size.
  8. I can go without food when I’m working on art, but not without coffee.
  9. Two pots of coffee is twice as good as one pot
  10. When I drink tea or coffee later in the evening, it is easier to work, but harder to sleep
  11. I get frustrated when I can’t mix the right color.
  12. I get excited when I mix the right color.
  13. Use rags liberally, don’t worry about conserving.
  14. Ink is certainly messy.
  15. If you get a lot of ink on your hands, soap won’t work. Time for paint thinner.
  16. A little paint thinner never hurt anyone. I hope.
  17. Wash your hands frequently. You’re gonna need the hardcore soap, the green stuff with little bits of pumice in it.
  18. If you really think a particular color won’t look good, don’t use it. Mix up another color.
  19. Careful planning can save you time, and ink.
  20. Too much planning can waste time, however. Thinking about what to do never got anything done.

The next 20 continued in tomorrow’s post.

Or, for the overachiever, jump ahead to numbers 41 to 60. Wash it down with numbers 61 to 80.

I Finished One Hundred and One Woodblock Prints. What’s Next?

Monday, February 8th, 2010

I genuinely thought this would be easy.

Making one-hundred and one unique, all-different woodblock prints turned out to be tremendous work.

The background

In case you don’t know..

Last May (or so), I made a simple wager with Dave. I would make 101 Woodblock prints before he wrote 101 articles about WordPress.

I started printing the day before my birthday, the last day of my 30th year. I started with a couple woodblocks and a couple linoleum blocks, and along with my buddy Patrick, spent the day mashing ink against paper.

I thought I would be finished in a month or two, but I seemed to underestimate the amount of work this would take. A little over 8 months after I started, on Superbowl Sunday, I printed the last run on the last print, right around midnight.

This project was about 10 times larger than I thought it would be.

Dave won the bet many months ago, and got a thriving website as a prize.

I’ve got ink-stained hands and a stack of artwork.

What’s happening to these 101 prints?

They are for sale.

101 woodblocks print number 80

Print Number 80. This and many more like it are part of the 101 Woodblock Series. At this low price, they don't come framed though..

And dirt cheap, for the time being.

As I started to finish these prints, I decided to sell them to my email newsletter subscribers (and ONLY to my email subscribers) for the amount that my materials cost me. That’s $3.55 each, plus $5 for shipping.

Like I said, dirt cheap.

I decided to sell them for this price until I finished all one-hundred and one. Which of course, happened last night. I still need to sign, title and number these, and I need to scan each one, so the price isn’t going up yet.

On February 22, the price increases to something reasonable, $20 or $30 per print. Still cheap, but not dirt cheap.

Sign up for my newsletter, and you will be sent a link to the gallery page where you can see every print, and buy at the current “pre-release” price. Click the word “newsletter” to sign up.

Ok, sales pitch over. You know if $8.50 is a deal for a work of hand-printed art.

What’s next?

Dave was up late last night, and called when he saw my twitter post hit. He gave good advice – don’t stop, don’t take a break.

The temptation is to “take a break” and take some time away from making prints to “recharge” or some such nonsense.

As usual, however, Dave and I were on the same page. What he didn’t know is that I had already started the early work for my next woodblock print. I spent half an hour or so Saturday morning taking reference photos, I’ll do some sketches tonight, and I should be carving the first blocks by next weekend.

Time for a Change

sketch of young boy

A sketch of my nephew, from a visit last December

If you’ve taken a liking to the sort of images I’ve created so far, you’re out of luck.

I’m shifting gears.

The 101 Woodblock Prints were influenced by design sensibilities. I focused as much on color, balance, shape, and other design considerations as I did on imagery.

I’ll be making a shift towards figurative woodblock prints (pictures of people). I want to convey drama, emotion, and pathos. I’m not exactly sure what shape this will take, I’ll find out.

(If I ever use the word “emo” to describe my work, however, you are free to punch me)

My plan is to produce one edition of prints each month for the rest of the year. I’m done making each print unique for the time being, I want to return to traditional printmaking, reproducing the same image a number of times.

What’s next? Lots more work.

No breaks, and no brakes.

Sales Pitch for Men: Give Her Hand Made Art for Valentine’s

Friday, February 5th, 2010

You need a gift for your woman.

Art makes a wonderful gift. It can be so difficult to buy, and I want to make that easier.

Coincidentally, I happen to have some hand made original art for sale…

Maybe we can scratch each others back (so to speak). Now, let me hock my wares.

Cheaper than Chocolates

101 Woodblock Series, number 76

101 Woodblock Series - Number 76

I am selling the prints from my current project, the 101 Woodblock Series, for dirt cheap. Like, a-latte-at-Starbucks cheap.

These aren’t sissy print reproductions. Each color is printed with a hand carved block. The block is inked by hand with a roller, the paper is pressed against the block, by hand, to transfer the ink.

Each one made by hand. Each one is different, and unique.

Why so cheap?

Nobody knows who I am. Yet. I’m selling my art cheap so it is irresistible, and you learn who I am. Maybe you will like some of the art I make in the future too (it won’t be so cheap though).

101 Woodblock Series - Number 77

101 Woodblock Series - Number 77


You need to get something lovely for your woman. I have something lovely to sell to you. You then give it to your woman, and she will be happy.

I’ll even tell you how to frame it. Easy Peazy.

Here’s the hoop: you have to be on my email list to get the art. I’m only selling these woodblock prints to email subscribers, and it is gonna stay that way until I finish the project.

When it’s all done, anyone will be able to buy these, no email subscription required. The price is gonna go up though, and you’re gonna have to give me bills with lesser known presidents on them to purchase (I know Jackson “retrieved” land from indians and drove bankers nuts, but what did Hamilton do?).

Right now, for email subscribers, these cost you a few pictures of Washington (with a Lincoln to cover shipping).

To entice you more, I put away the manly brown, red, green, and gray colors I usually use and printed some of them with blue, pink, purple — nice Valentines colors.

(I am sweet and considerate)

Thinkin’ about it?

101 Woodblock Series - Number 63

101 Woodblock Series - Number 63

Want to take a look?

As of this writing, I have about 35 unique prints completed and available. The images on this page are just a sample of what I’ve got waiting to show you in the “back room”.

You just gotta sign up for my newsletter (you will get an “opt-in” email first to make sure you really want to be on my list), and the first regular email I send will have a link to check all of the woodblock prints out.

You can even unsubscribe after you check out the art (it’s you, not me, I get it). No big deal. I use one of the good email list services that make it easy to unsubscribe, not one of those shisty ones that make it impossible.

Any orders I receive by Sunday night (Feb 7) will be shipped to you by priority mail Monday morning (Feb 8). It will arrive mid to late week next week. These are shipped in big envelopes with rigid cardboard to make sure they stay flat while in transit.

If you think your significant one might like some original art, go ahead and sign up by clicking here.

If you decide you really just want one for yourself, and don’t buy one as a gift, that’s O.K.

Weekend Printing Results

Sunday, December 13th, 2009

continuing my current 101 Woodblock Series, I’ve been printing all weekend to get a bunch more started. My current count is 40 prints, completed, 40 in various stage of completion, and 21 more to begin.

I’ve been carving a couple blocks for a while, and recently finished them. Here’s one of the prints of the two blocks:

The most recent blocks printed

The most recent blocks printed

Much more work to do, time to get back to it.

Thinking in Layers

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2009

I’ve been working on a new block for a couple days now, and this one has been a bit of a challenge. I know that this block is going to have a companion block that goes with it, and the two will take advantage of how colors mix when they are printed in layers.

Two separate colors

Two separate colors

One block for every color

Generally, with woodblock printing, for each block, you have one color that is printed. To create a print with three colors, three blocks are needed.

You can see this to the left, in the beautiful image I whipped up to demonstrate this. It would take two woodblocks to print this beautiful work of art.

(Aren’t the colors lovely? Well, at least they demonstrate the point well)

With opaque ink, one-block-one-color is true. Each layer of ink will cover up any other layers of ink under it. With out-of-the-tube ink from your local art store, this is the sort of behavior an artist can expect from their ink.

This is a bit limiting, and luckily for us there is a way to get more from our blocks and from our color by using a little bit of transparency in the ink.

I cheat the system 

My most important ink I have is transparent. It is just ink medium, without any pigment. I add this to my other inks, which are opaque, to add some transparency. The more transparent medium I add, the more transparent the ink becomes.

This creates opportunity, and along with opportunity comes complexity.

Two colors overlap to create a third color

Two colors overlap to create a third color

Transparency allows the ink to mix on the paper, so that one color will show through another color a bit. They mix to create a third color.

This neat little image on the right I whipped up in Photoshop shows how this works. When two blocks overlap, and transparent ink is used, a third color is created where they overlap. Using this technique, 2 blocks can print 3 colors.

Extending this out to more blocks, 3 blocks can print 7 colors. 4 blocks can print more colors than I care to figure out (11 15, I think, but it is early in the morning).

This hurts my head to think about

My current block is giving me quite a challenge, because I know that it will be printed with another block, and the two will interact to create a third color. When I carve the block, I have to keep in mind that some areas that I carve will be left white on the final print, and some areas will be filled in with the second block. Some areas will be defined by how the two blocks overlap, and I have to leave those areas intact, so that the two colors can print together.

It is interesting to carve a block in this way. Often, I carve blocks with a “black and white” frame of mind. Color will print on the block, except where I carve away.

With this block, I am considering the shapes that this block will print, the shapes the second block will print, the areas where they overlap, and the areas left white by the paper.

I finished carving the first of these two blocks last night (took 3 evenings). I have a busy couple of days coming up, keeping me from my art through the weekend, so I won’t get to the second block till early next week, but look for updates then.

Harder Than Art

Friday, November 13th, 2009

When I was in school getting my art degree, guest lecturers would speak about how to be a successful professional artist. They made one thing was abundantly clear: being a professional artist is two full time jobs, one as an artist, and one in sales and marketing.

Back then, I always thought to myself, “whatever. Sales and marketing can’t take that long.”

It turns out, I was wrong. The 101 Woodblock series is almost ready for a pre-launch, available for newsletter subscribers. Putting everything in place to start marketing these things has been a lot of work. Far more than I imagined when I heard guest lecturers say this back in college.

Anyhow, the prints I am making for this current project will be available only to Newsletter subscribers, for a cut rate. The pre-release price is just enough to cover my materials and mailing expenses.

I’m doing these as a crash course in fine art printmaking after all, and, well, as a marketing gimmick. The best marketing is done by giving people far more value than you ask in return after all.

Details will be coming out next week on the Insider Newsletter. If you want to get a head start on signing up, click here to get on the newsletter.