Monday, December 22, 2014

141222 An unusual artist  

While a 19th Century artist like Turner would spend time perfecting a color for the illusion of light and mist, or a few seconds as portrayed in the movie this year, I am an artist who spends time poring over the events in a young girl’s life in Latvia, and others in her community with whom I became acquainted by a printing press.

The total value of Turner’s paintings today are probably in the billions, thanks to avid art collectors, historians and publishers. I wonder, what could be the value of a 12-year old girl’s experience in winning a bronze medal for prints she made in Riga’s Grafikaskola? Her name is Evita, and this I know from a Google Circle announcement placed there by the graphic school’s director—Ieva Helmute.

For about an hour today I studied many aspects of this event—a girl winning a prize in a Polish art contest for kids, a fundraiser in Riga to benefit a children’s emergency healthcare program, and side trips to explore (virtually) Riga’s famous Rīdzenes street shopping arcade.

This is the work of art—to be part of the effort to help youth. Turner may or may not have had the same idea in mind. We will never know. But our little Halfwood Press, which—with the help of a neighbor upstairs from my studio—traveled halfway around the world to Latvia to be used by kids at Ieva’s school is a story to remember.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

An old dream of a printmaking tour  

There is an idea I put on my bucket list back in the ‘80s. I was still at the University of Washington and in the School Of Art I had the freedom to work with students who wanted to start up projects like the idea I had. They were students from the Industrial Arts program, and they came to me with a request for a special studies group on sketching up ideas.
They claimed there was no opportunity to explore different media in their sketching projects, and mediums like printmaking, for example, monotypes, had them curious. I said to them, “I happen to need someone to sketch up a concept called the Print Circus—a cross-country tour bus for printmaking students,” and I made a deal. I would sign their special permission slips if they would sketch up the tour bus.
By the end of the quarter, they presented me with their sketches, and they were pretty good. I still have them in my storage room. I was reminded of this when I thought about going to Knoxville, Tennessee next March to attend the Southern Graphics Council International Printmaking Conference.
“Why not restore that idea?” I thought. Today you can hire a tour bus, get a couple dozen people to sign up—perhaps run it with a Kickstarter or IndieGoGo campaign—and make this trip. Right away I went online and saw what the tour industry offers.
When I thought more about it, it became another one of those items I put on my bucket list—the list of things a person wants to do before they kick the bucket. The original idea I had, back in the 1980s, was that the tour was for students to get a bigger picture of what printmaking offers. We would have had an itinerary to visit printmaking workshops across the USA; not only that, we would also see what forms of new technologies were developing, such as video and computer graphics.

I was, and still am, convinced that printmaking has a close association with new electronic technologies which, if incorporated into the printmaking students’ curricula, would enable them to do much more with their education. As it was (and still is) the college was in a sense locking the students in to their professors’ world of printmaking, not with the printmaking world that was coming into being.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Weavers and Painters  

Reflections on diligence  

He considers his digital work to be the same as that of the weaver or a painter who works diligently on detail-intensive tasks, only instead of threads-per-inch or hairline-thin brush strokes, he elaborates on the fine detail of Internet web pages’ links.  

Model ship 

Two things I want to do when I retire is, one, build a model of the Emeralda, the ship of my vision and, secondly, write the saga of the Emeralda—the mythology of my art and craft. Until the time I can feel good about the daily grind of starting the Seattle Printmakers Center on firm ground, however, I will continue with the means to this end.


I have thought, too, of going back to my roots in visual art and making a painting or two in the manner of classical work. For example, I could enroll in one of the Ateliers at Gage Academy and get good instruction about the methods used by painters in the 19th Century, and apply these methods to a great maritime painting of the Emeralda under the great wave.
As I work on a web page today, making sure every link within the page is correctly named, and the images of the correct resolution and reasonably sized for speedy downloads, or going back to an image to slice and dice it for a smaller bit count, I think about painting with the same arduous and detailed work.


Or, I imagine myself as a weaver or working on a needlepoint canvas, choosing the right thread weight and color, fiber, etc. so it will make a beautiful piece based, perhaps, on the voyage of the Emeralda. There are other fiber-based art forms, like embroidery and tapestry art from which to choose. These all require the hours and months of careful, detailed work and result in a fine, finished work.
If I were retired, I wouldn’t have a care about what became of the finished product, because I would have been enjoying the process all along, in my retirement, my retreat from the need to build the Seattle Printmakers Center and, of course, the rapid prototyping of the twenty startups that will finance and sustain the overall enterprise.

So it goes 

Moments ago I was adding a few words and links to a page on my latest creation, a prototype for the Rembrandt and Wine, and, as often happens, I saw myself like the painter of a highly detailed, classical narrative oil painting or a fiber piece. Now, it’s back to my digital art.

For, in today’s world, the artist’s function is not to make paintings and weavings such as I have in mind (unless he or she has abandoned the need to feel useful to society and culture, as I will feel when I retire) but the artist’s function, or value to society and culture, is to work partly in the digital media and partly in the real, physical mediums at the same time. It’s my joy to have come to a place—Seattle—and a time when it is possible and enjoyable to be able to work this way on the Seattle Printmakers Center.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

I signed up for a webinar  

. . . and wrote this instead  

When I filled out the form to register for a webinar produced by the OneVest information service and had to describe with my plan for the Seattle Printmakers Center, I was asked to choose one or more industries I aim for. The ones I chose were Education, Media and entertainment, and Consumer products industries.

Each industry (there were about fifteen listed on the OneVest website) stands on its own, but there can be overlaps, as the planners of these webinars give everyone wiggle room.

The Seattle Printmakers Center is a “cloud” kind of concept, with many small, interrelated sections making up the whole. You might compare this to making a painting. You might start (startup) with broad strokes with a very wide brush. The brush may be loaded with one color, or—by clever manipulation of pigment and vehicle—a rainbow of colors.

The broad-brush may be the background for what comes next—the details. If the painting is to be representational, then the artist may use perspective and overlapping shapes to indicate the subject, the story, the beauty, or whatever the painter has in mind.

Now, switch to the printmaker. He or she may have a painter’s background, but the printmaker may add something to the repertoire of tools the painter has learned.

The brush, for example, has little use in printmaking. More often it is a roller—which only a house painter has any use for—that the printmaker uses for broad color areas. It, too, can carry a rainbow of colors.

But, aside from the different tools, there is a more important difference. The painter will usually work alone, and what becomes his or her painting is their creation. The printmaker may work alone, too—and often does work alone at the outset of a project—but sooner or later there are others involved in printmaking.

For example, a printmaking studio requires more than the painter’s studio. Printmaking techniques may require silk screens, for example, or an etching press. Things start to get complicated. Many printmakers find it is better to share these with other people. It’s cheaper, for one thing, and safer. It’s more fun if it is done in the right way. Developing and sustaining a printmaking studio is like developing a small community.

That’s why I include EDUCATION in my list of what characterizes the broad, overall industry of my choice—in the paragraphs above, I have stated the differences in my domain-of-expertise, printmaking, compared to its closest neighbor in the cultural list, which is painting.

Painting, however, is more popular, and that is why the Seattle Printmakers Center is needed, whereas we do not need a Seattle Painters Center. When painters do get together to set up a “center” of some kind, it is only to pool their rent allowance and get into industrial real estate so they can get out of the house. Such as center is composed of walled-in studios, and the only interaction among the occupants is by chance meetings in the halls or kitchenette.

MEDIA AND ENTERTAINMENT, on the other hand, is closer to the printmakers’ domain. In fact, printmaking is the ancestor of all media and entertainment industries. Therefore, a Seattle Printmakers Center will manifest most of the qualities of the media and entertainment world. For example, sharing the expenses of a printmaking studio is like sharing the expenses of a film makers’ facility, or working as a group to make a film.

Technology has made it possible to work alone in making a film, but it is rarely profitable and a sustainable model. A graphic designer, for example, can work alone in the home and be fully employed and well-paid by using the digital technologies and the Internet. But the kind of artist who inclines toward using technologies (descendants of printmaking) is a social creature—like most people.

As one person, a web designer, told me as she was putting in an order for an etching press, “My press will be a reason to have gatherings at my house.” She enjoys linocuts and even uses the old mediums to achieve effects in her graphic design which are hard to get in digital media.
Now we come to the secret ingredient for success of the Seattle Printmakers Center—CONSUMER PRODUCTS. It’s no secret, actually, because we have been designing and producing consumer products for a decade: The Halfwood press line.

However, experiencing the startup stage in the development of the Seattle Printmakers Center reveals that we were actually testing the worldwide market for the presses so that we could pay for the Center from this income stream—and the Halfwood Press is only one of twenty income streams that combine to support the Center programs.

That is why I complete my list of industry choices with consumer products. Not only is there a proven global market for Halfwood Presses, there is also a market for peripheral things that go with the art and craft of printmaking. Things such as the furniture for a printmaking studio, or accessories that let the printmaker go mobile—the busker etcher.

At the beginning of this essay I used painting as an analogy to the education portion. The analogy goes farther because the three industries—education, media and entertainment, and consumer products—are like the primary colors on a painter’s (or printmaker’s) palette. They can complement and contrast with one another, and in no other segment of the Seattle Printmakers Center is this more perfectly balanced than in the Rembrandt and Wine startup I am working on today.

As for the webinar, something went wrong and I didn’t get online. Probably there was a glitch somewhere in the system. When we have our Seattle Printmakers Center and there is a webinar on an element of this field (history, technique, business, etc.), we hope we team up with a great webinar service!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Yenta wanted  

A matchless printmaker in Seattle seeks a Yenta  

Having won an appointment with Seattle’s technology startup liaison he finds that she is a Startup yenta—matchmaker among entrepreneurs and he wonders if she can find a match for the technology sector of his ten-year plan for a Seattle Printmakers Center. 

Reaching out 

What the art schools overlooked was that printmaking is a performance and social experience. The experience of printmaking involves more than merely producing prints or a sideline to painting and drawing. Printmaking involves mechanical and technical skills, equipment, chemistry, photography and—today—computers. To call it an art-form is to miss the point. Hand printmaking reduces the technological expectations of the user so printmaking does not need to match the look and feel of magazines and mass-produced books.
Where does this bring us, today? In a roundabout way, the failure to catch the meaning of a performance and social art in printmaking, we have Seattle’s numerous incubators for tech startups today. The city’s technology initiative, Startup Seattle, is part of it--a city government belief that new businesses, not business as usual, will help Seattle's economy grow.
Is there a new business in the missed opportunity—when the UW printmaking department was deconstructed in 1984? Instead of being transformed for the coming digital age, the printmaking facilities at the UW (also in other state-run art schools) were folded into an extension of design area. Instead going for a curriculum for a reinvented printmaking in which majors could have practiced video, computer graphics and laser technology, they came up with a substitute cocktail of communications and design theory classes.
The word “printmaking” was relegated to catacombs of dead courses—alongside art education, interior design and weaving. This is a key to understanding why a new business startup, based on a transformed printmaking, is timely.
Printmaking always attracted a big following at the UW art school and it was partly because of the tumult of developments in the 1970's that made it so. Off-campus, you had a booming economy. There were jobs for printmakers who could work in the fine art publishing houses. There were jobs for graduates who wanted to teach college and in schools. On campus, you had experiments in art and technology, and printmaking was one of the portals that could lead students to film, video and computer graphics.
The best part of it was that these forays into new technologies (and associations with new people and new jobs in technology) was a double-door: You could spend mornings doing computer graphics and afternoons making woodcut prints.

Death of academic printmaking

It’s just as well that printmaking at the UW should end the way it did, because as long as printmaking was yoked to painting and drawing, printmaking could not be anything but a substitute for those mediums - in multiples. Colleges are restricted by national federations dictating what qualifies for student loans, grants and credits.
For example, there are no credible business classes for art majors, but there are classes that teach art majors how to land jobs in the museum and government arts agencies. It would appear that innovation has no place in a system of state-run higher education. The opposite is true off-campus, in a world economy helped by incubators for start ups.
Released from the art schools, printmaking can fulfill another mission—that of offering an experience not enjoyed by painters. Printmaking is experience more like the performing arts in their communal and collaborative nature than painting and drawing. Printmaking is a social art and rich with innovative potential and the potential to attract money.
Convinced of these other sides of fine art printmaking, a business start up is possible if it is one that serves both the old notions of prints made by renowned artists like Rembrandt and Warhol and the new kinds of printmaking done with laser engravers and 3D printers.
Central to the success of this kind of start up is communication - presence on the Internet and a subscription online magazine. Alongside it, the production of spin-off games, apps and equipment for printmaking can be the work of young people who want to work with hands in both worlds—the world that has died a hundred deaths and the world that is being born hundreds of times a day.

Life after death

A born-again printmaker needs to find a co-founder, an angel and an incubator in which to take the initial steps to produce an online magazine for the Printmaking World.

Or, an angel who wants to start the incubator, the Seattle Printmakers Center.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Digging for treasure  

Allusions to solutions    

While updating one of the web pages of the owners of his press design the author is beset by a vision of digging for treasure—a childhood fascination with lost treasure which is symbolic of what he lost when he was forced to resign from his treasured job.  

Picture me digging  

“Drilling down” is a current expression used by people in the IT industry when referring to digging into computer code. Computer code is the machine-readable language people must use to make all computer devices functional.
For me, drilling down has a visual quality like digging down into the earth. Maybe if I had been born into a family of a well-driller, it might have been a different image. I was born and raised as a farmer, so “digging down” makes more sense.
As a kid, I loved stories of digging for lost treasure. Sometimes I would bury something with the purpose of digging it up later on. In fact, somewhere along the road between Wapato and the Yakima River in central Washington State, there is a fruit jar buried and it contains treasures I put there in the 1940s—a fake ruby and a mummified chameleon, as I recall.
Today I was drilling down, as information techies call it, into the information about Josef Beery, one of the owners of the Galleon Halfwood Press I designed. Josef bought the press from me earlier this year, and now a photo of it is on his website. I was looking for more information to put on his web page on my website—a listing of all the owners—and this meant “drilling down” with Josef’s name as the search term.

Parallel drilling

While this is happening, I’m also beset by another topic, which is whether or not to go to a barbecue being held by the local printmakers club, the Seattle Print Arts. This club has a peculiarity about it for me. I am probably the only one who has ever attended their meetings and joined—for awhile—as a dues-paying member.
As a print maker who has lived and worked in Seattle for almost fifty years, you would think I would be a member, but I am not, currently, a dues-paying member. It is odd, and you would think I would go to the barbecue, naturally.
The trouble is, I am miserable when I go to their meetings because I am like an outsider. Maybe it’s because I’ve been around for almost fifty years and I can see through every facet of the club—who founded it, why they started the Seattle Print Arts, when, how, etc. Also, I saw the predecessors of this club—the Northwest Print makers for one—plus the other printmaking clubs around the USA, of which there are almost one-hundred.
Printmaking is one of the art forms which naturally attract people into a social group. The members benefit from the organizations’ work for education, training, exhibition and community activism. There are art clubs for almost every art form and technique, the crafts, and new technologies. Printmaking is a social art form, and a performance art with a strong technological element about it that makes a club almost a necessity.
So, why the hesitation to go the barbecue? That’s what I wonder every year since I first learned they had barbecues. It is odd. As I drilled down into Josef Beery’s presence on the web, I pictured digging for treasure. What was I expecting to find?
When I found the image of his Galleon Halfwood Press on Josef's website and read his comment, I saw why I don’t want to go to the barbecue. With the “treasure” of Josef’s comment online, who needs to go to a printmaking club barbecue when only one member among the 100 or so who belong to it owns one of the presses I designed?
From around the United States and in a dozen foreign countries, almost one-hundred fifty people own presses I designed; but here, among the members of the city’s only printmaking club, only one person has come forward, talked with me about the press, bought one, came to my studio and tried it out. She would not mind me giving her name—Lu Mcbride.

I’m not going

What I remember most from past visits I made to the barbecue was like being a wallflower at a high school dance, where no one would offer to dance with me. If there is going to be a conversation with someone, I will have to initiate it—with the exception of Sheila Coppola, the hostess and owner of Sidereal Press where the barbecue is always held.

So, I will stay busy digging in the data of those people, like Josef, who have shown me they value what I do and do not ignore my effort to be a part of the greater community of printmakers, designers, students and strategic partners.
Like the storied “lost treasures” of my boyhood reading, I will find my treasure close to home and where the treasure is most likely to be found.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

What Innovation?  

Listing my innovations for fun 

Reading a tome of a book titled, “Diffusion of Innovations” by Everett M. Rogers, this artist/teacher must pause and ask himself, “What, if anything, did I innovate?” and, then, “Why was any one of these adopted and diffused?” The question bears thinking. 

It started with a trip to Europe

If I “innovated” in any pursuit, it probably started with the trip Lynda, my wife and I, took in 1969 to work in Europe with Rolf Nesch in Norway, and some follow-up visits to Stanley Hayter and others on the continent.
My pursuit was an unanswered question: “What was it like before WWII when it appeared that printmaking innovation was diffused?” Such diffusion of the inventive printmaking that Nesch and Hayter—to name only two renowned artists who helped make printmaking a fine art form in its own right—is an example of “Diffusion of Innovations” which Everett M. Rogers wrote about in his book of that title.
At 72—the same age that Rolf Nesch was when I went to work with him and see his technique he called, “material grafiks,”—I look back almost every day and wonder why my innovations were not diffused. Or, the most important ones to me, the innovations in printmaking as the art is taught in college.
Rogers’ book is helping me understand why my innovations weren’t adopted in college art and why I continue to see my innovations slow to be diffused to the degree that I wish they would.
A current example is my proposal for a Seattle Printmakers Center—I find very few people interested. Rogers might tell me why. Thus far his book has taught me the truth that even though an innovation might be a good thing for many people, not many people will take it up.
Those who do are called “early adopters” of the innovation. Their number is small at first, but it grows over time and then it soars—providing the circumstances are right for it.

What did I do?

This morning, as part of my research, I thought it would be instructive to list what I think are my innovations—the ones that have not been diffused. Uncertain whether to start at the top—the Seattle Printmakers Center—or at the early innovations of my career, it’s hard to choose.
The old innovations are easier to understand—starting in 1969 in other words. My innovation that year was that printmaking shares with painting, drawing and sculpture certain creative processes. I was steeped in creativity theories, not only in art, but in science, mathematics and music. What is the creative process, anyway? Whatever it was, it seemed to be the key to success for artists. Whether it is innate or if creativity can be taught—these are the questions that motivated me to go to Europe in 1969.
And the question was specifically grounded in printmaking, because printmaking is not a creative process itself, but a repetitive, mechanical process that lent itself to non-human production. If printmaking were to be valuable in the humanities, or if printmaking were to be justified as material for higher education, then creativity might be the only question to study.
Creativity in printmaking was the only thing that interested me after that epiphany, and might save me from a long, dull career in teaching college. If I could share with other university teachers a kind of research, worthy of the name, then it would be to find the keys to creativity in this otherwise mechanical reproduction process called printmaking.

Creativity denied

I learned there are many people in secure positions, socio-economically speaking, who deny there is any such thing as creativity—that there is nothing new under the sun. When Glen Alps, whose innovation was the collagraph name twenty years before I came to the UW School of Art, began his push for diffusion of the process, it took ten years for him to enjoy the recognition of having named it.
It was what Rolf Nesch called “metal grafik” or “material grafik” but the name collagraph (collage graphic, and also collograph, with an “o” referring to gluing) was more popular in the United States printmaking nomenclature. It was an innovation, but to me it was not important that a person used one technique over another to make a work of art that had something about it that was creative and important.
Technique can be learned by machines. I was looking for the human element that must be part of the experience. Besides books on creativity, I also read books like, “Mechanization takes Command,” “Prints and People,” and “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction.”
Paralleling this literature I read books on education; one that sticks in my mind is “Art on Campus,” because it is here that I learned the history of art becoming a topic worthy of university-level study, research, production and services.

My first innovation

That must be my first innovation—that the four cornerstones of university work are teaching, research, production and services. Not really an innovation when you realize that these are the basis of all great universities for hundreds of years, actually, but my adoption of this as my mantra (signified by the acronym, TRPS) was innovation enough to keep me on course for fifty years.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Custom Work Now and Then  

Comparison of printing and coding  

Fifty years ago he was introduced to art as serving people who like fine art prints according to tradition and innovation in printmaking, which is his domain of expertise. Service changed as the art form evolved to include digital in addition to material.

Prints and people

“Prints and People” is the title of a book published in 1971 about the social and cultural aspects of printmaking. A. Hyatt Mayor, the author, points out the effects of prints on literacy, commerce, science, fashions, religion and political power. I must have read it soon after it was published, because the early 1970's marks a turning point in my career. Or, you might call it a time when I came to a fork in the road and I took it—famously advised by Yogi Berra.
My life up until then had been okay. I had a wonderful wife (still do), a house, a car, two daughters and, to keep this good life going, a pretty good job. The job was being an art teacher at the University of Washington School Of Art. This job required that you keep studying art, practicing the art you were hired to teach, be a good teacher and stay out of trouble with the bosses.
I was good at the first three requirements, but not so good at staying out of trouble—but that’s another story. Those first three things—keeping on studying, practicing and teaching—were harmonious. The catch was, however, that the better you became at these, the harder it was to keep out of trouble. But, as I said, that’s another story.
The benefit was that I kept my job for nineteen years and it was because I learned there was a fourth requirement—one that people did not talk about very much. It is service. So teaching, research, practice and service became my magic formula for success.
At the university, for example, the professors are regarded as experts by the people outside the university—the people in the community. This is a global pattern. We—my family and I—traveled around the world one year and everywhere we went I found people willing to help us in part because I had my professor’s credentials. Doors opened, even on short notice, and people showed us things and gave us things and hospitality which, I suppose, were given because of my title—Professor of Art.
It follows, then, that when community people right around the university or from abroad wanted expert opinion, they called me sometimes. Not only that, but when my students needed extra service—such as giving advice on subjects that were not taught in college at the time—they came to me. I learned, as Yogi Berra said about taking the fork in the road, referred to a major life decision. If the road forks, it’s like coming to an opportunity to take a new and better direction. The first fork I came to was when we got back to Seattle after studying in Europe for a few months—should I keep doing what I was doing in printmaking, or take up video art?
It was risky. I was making a good salary, my art was selling, and I was getting into art shows and winning prizes. It was recursive, because the better I was at my art, the bosses gave me promotions and grants to keep doing what I was doing. The road had been going along like a freeway and then I came to electronic media—and I took it up. My stay in Europe had exposed me to old men—artists—who had come to forks decades before me and made similar choices. Their art was printmaking, like mine, and what I took for granted in my early days was new when they were young artists. In fact, they invented printmaking as a form of fine art.

Digital art

The expression “digital art” is commonly used today to refer to works on paper or canvas that were made all or in part by computer-data driven printers, cutters, laser-burners, etc. In printmaking, digital prints are accepted as being the same thing as etchings, woodcut prints, lithographs and screen prints. As A. Hyatt Mayor suggested in his book, “Prints and People,” the evolution of the effects of printing continue and art teachers are teaching, researching and producing digital printmaking the same way as they had been taught.
One thing I think that is under served, is service itself. This came to mind today as I was updating a web page on one of my websites. This one shows most of the people who own my work—usually known as art patrons. It occurred to me that in the 1970s I spent as much time making a print as it took me to update a web page today. Let’s say it was 15 minutes. In those fifteen minutes I could have been printing an etching or block print or I could have been working on a plate to print tomorrow.
I might, in time, sell the print to someone and then they would become another patron. I have about four-hundred names of people and institutions who own my work. In the past ten years, about 150 of those names are of people who do not own my art but who own one of the presses (and in a few instances, two presses) I designed. They sometimes call my presses, “Works of art.”
It calls to mind that I am doing a kind of service for my art patrons by spending a quarter-hour updating their page on my website. The page is dedicated to them, but it also has links in the page’s content. These may be in the form of a YouTube video, or there might be links to their Website if they have one. Some have links to the pages on my website of other people who own a similar work of mine—such as one of the edition of the prints like the one they own, or another press like the one that I made.

New market for artists

The college where I taught was pretty good at teaching art students how to produce works of art; and in a few cases, they also taught art students how to teach either by intention through art education classes or by chance. There was not much emphasis on research outside of the art history classes, and almost no science or technology. As for service, it was never mentioned that I know of.
And yet, in today’s world, service may be the only viable—that is, sustainable—activity for artists. That was the choice I made—albeit unconsciously—in the early 1970's. The road less traveled, as Whitman said, was the electronic arts, and for me it has made all the difference.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

What Next? 

Cleaning out the gallery 

Synergy is when two-plus-two-equals-five, the whole being greater than the sum of its parts. The author has fifty years accumulation of intellectual and tangible property valued in the art world and, more specifically, the printmaking world. What is next?  

Cleaning out the gallery the best way

Shall we begin? In the 1980s, Norie Sato proposed a funding program to solve the problem of artists’ unsold assets—their works of art which, for lack of a market, were piling up in storage. She said, “Announce that the work would be place on a conveyor leading into a garbage truck, and anyone who wanted to could save the artwork and give it a home, could take it off the conveyor and pay for having it.”

I have thought of this proposal many times, but the organization of the event is daunting, not to mention the desperation of it and the perversion of what the art meant at the outset. Lately, however, two recurring themes concern me:

One, I’m getting along okay, but every time I do something to sell a press or an artwork (the former which is many times over the occurrence of the latter) I see myself depriving a Millennial of a meaningful, remunerative task.

Second, the huge inventory of unsold work is going to be junked if I don’t do something with it soon.

If I am creative and deserving the title of “artist” then I should be able to use these themes in a creative way to move forward—solving two problems at the same time and realizing the benefits of a group-funding event, when two-plus-two-equals-five.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Growth Tip 

Finding your way in difficult times 

A dream, a nightmare, makes him think about his role, or his job, in today’s world in which it appears that crises and gloom besets many Americans and the world’s peoples. What can he do to help? A senior artist is not someone people think of as a leader. 

Arms too weak—a dream analysis 

In a dream I was in a wilderness, but there were trails and a road, a bridge crossing a river. I saw a man in the river, and he swam ashore and I gave him a hand getting out. He said he often went swimming in this river, but it was especially turbulent these days—maybe he shouldn't risk it.
The scene changed, and I was in a queue with many people, and I couldn't find my place in the line; I mistakenly took a place and I was shoved out for having crowded in. then I was again in a wilderness—and now on a mission like a guerrilla task. We had to cross a stream and, on the other side, climb a steep cliff and through a small hole.
There were others behind me, and when I was able to get up to a hole which we had to crawl through and I realized I didn't have the strength to pull myself up. At 72, I could no longer pull my weight in this kind of warfare. The hole was partly blocked by a flat stone, and I was able to push the stone aside and make the passage a little easier for others.
That was the most I could do, however; and even after I made the passage a little larger, I could not lift myself up to go through. As I was blocking the way of the others, they would have to go around. I was stuck. I could not help in the mission. I woke up, thinking, “growth tip.”

Growth tip

In college I took botany as a science requirement. What stuck with me about plant life was that the tip of a stem or branch had the effect of leading the way in the plan for the plant’s growth. After that, whenever I see some greenery that has poked itself through a crack in a sidewalk or a little tree that has broken through stone, I thought about the growth tip.
The growth tip must have a combination of plant-cellular intelligence, strength, fortitude and persistence to manage breaking through. From a seed in soft, moist, accommodating soil, the achievement of easily sending out its first root or stem and sprout in two directions—one toward the sun, the other toward the deeper regions for water and nutrients.
Maybe that’s why I took to the tree as my guide when I was in graduate school and required to state my Master’s Thesis project. The requirement was to help graduate students in art to focus our energy and our minds similarly as to what the students in engineering or science. Trees became my obsession, which was an obvious choice because I had already started on trees as symbols of life itself when I was an undergraduate.

Wake up

I thought about the growth tip the instant I woke up from the nightmare and feeling I can’t pull my weight because my muscles have gone soft, thus useless in guerrilla warfare. But I removed a small obstacle in the pathway. I was of some use, after all. At 72 year of age, are there not things that I possess that will help the young people on a mission we share?
My personal history in art and education suggests that I am a kind of growth tip, having broken through impasses in my work as an artist, designer, and teacher. While I am not a politician or military scientist, my having solved problems that I met in education were good solutions. I continually to offer ideas for better ways to teach, research, practice and give service through the arts to young people in America and all nations.
Times have changed, and the problems I met and solved over fifty years are not necessarily problems that are worth anyone’s time to address now. I seem to be getting nowhere in my ten-year plan for the Seattle Printmaking Center, for example, and maybe it’s a concept not appropriate to the 21st Century.
Yet, I can still be the growth tip and find a tiny hole or a crack in the rocky ceiling of indifference and confusion about the place of art, design and education. What stops me from doing what I hope to do? I have to ask myself this question every morning. There is light out there, somewhere, and, underneath me like a foundation, the enrichment of my past. It is my basis for believing it is possible to save Earth’s human life sustainability through education of the world’s young people.
In corporate language, such a foundation is called the “stock basis.”


There is no mistake in believing that our lives—those of my wife and mine—depend on an educated, trained and cooperating population of young people, for it is the wages that they will earn if they are qualified to get salaried jobs that will, through our Social Security, Medicare and Pension systems, sustain us. Therefore it is incumbent on all “growth-tippers” to mobilize the wisdom to know how to edit and apply our years of experience in our domains-of-expertise.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Killing off the young - 

An old-timer’s disease 

He takes the word “disease” and reads it as “dis-ease,” or lack of ease, of discomfort, of a feeling that with every little task he executes in his handwork as an entrepreneur, he is killing off the employment prospects of a younger generation of artists.


Someone said that the word disease really means dis-ease, a lack of ease, a feeling of discomfort and pain. I don’t know if that’s etymologically correct, but it fits the feeling that I get when I see before me a variety of routine tasks that bring me financial and creative satisfaction.
For example, I must complete the packaging of two WeeWoodie Rembrandt Presses and mail them to buyer in Seattle and Saudi Arabia. Also I must pack a Galleon Press to send to Carolina, and a Mini Etching Press for a buyer in Taiwan.
Almost anyone from the younger generations could do this, and be paid from the proceeds of these sales—the gross amount of which is $3,950, and a net of about $1,750. This pencils out to about 40% net income, which I will portion out to pay down my debts and reinvest in new projects.
The dis-ease comes from the feeling in my head that any one of the tasks I will undertake, from the miniscule to the heavy lifting, could be done by a younger person with some training and education. Therein lies the rub—there is no plan for training and education in my scheme.
There is a wish—the teacher’s wish which I have had since I was a boy; I always wanted to be a teacher.

The curse 

I am cursed with a genetically and conditioned view that I can take care of the immediate tasks to satisfy buyers of presses well enough to get me by without training someone else to do them. This is complicated further by the fact that I can’t guarantee that my training of someone younger (or older) will get them the rewards they need immediately and also be sustainable for a long term.
For example, I lack two pieces of plastic material to complete the contents of the to WeeWoodie Rembrandt presses—one for Seattle and for Saudi Arabia. I plan to walk downtown and find this plastic material—maybe at Bed, Bath & Beyond. How can someone else do it?
To get the attention of a younger person, explain the need, show them the purpose of the plastic, discuss alternatives if that material can’t be found at BB&B, etc. and also give them the money to purchase it—all this is overwhelming to me, distracting and unnecessary since I think I can do it all myself in less time.
Plus, I get in a walk, which is necessary to maintain my health—needed to keep in going for the next ten years for my next ten-year plan. My father was beset by the same disorder—practically do the job for his workers in the process of training them because he was a stickler for doing the job right.

To do list 

My dilemma list goes on as I think about what needs to be done: make boxes and get packing material for the Galleon, fill out postage forms for mailing to Saudi Arabia, also Seattle and Carolina, etc. Certain enclosures that go with the Galleon and the Mini Etching Press need to be checked and updated—a task I can do in an hour but which would take many hours of instructions to a younger person.
Writing my to-do list gives me a vague, aching pain because, not only is it a long list and somewhat boring because I’ve done it so many times, it is painful because I know I am killing off a job opportunity for some younger person by doing it all myself.
Lately I have been telling people that, as a pensioner and drawing social security, I need to hone a two-edged sword to ensure mine and my wife’s long-term security as we get older. How will my pension continue if American industries suffer from poor labor force? How will our Social Security system sustain if young people are not trained and educated and cannot hold down jobs?

Solutions and cures for the disease

I think the solution is a factory school of printmaking arts.
How do I begin?
Have I already begun?

Is anyone reading this?

Thursday, April 17, 2014

A’Design Award Winners 2014

Inspire a Seattle Printmaking Center

Eying the future of creative arts

With pleasure, this Seattleite viewed almost 800 images of winning entries in the 2014 edition of the A’Design Award and Competition. I found inspiration! Pictures piqued my interest; some resonated with a vision of a Seattle Printmaking Center.
Having won for a second time with a miniature printing press in the A’Design Award and Competition—originating in Milan and offered every year—I know this is a way for people to share the best creations in many diverse design fields. From more than 12,500 entries, jurors awarded over 700 prizes.
Scanning the winners’ works, seeing the photographs, reading the designers’ articles time-traveled me back to my college days. As a young art student I had a big appetite for designer magazines for inspiration. I especially liked magazines from foreign countries. Designers in 78 countries entered the A'Design Award and competition in 2014.
Visit the A’Design Award website and you will find that it facilitates browsing in some ways that are superior to paper-based magazine of the past century. This website is a design masterpiece and good software engineering in itself. You can find everything on the site,

Here in Seattlewith team-mates in England, Canada and Japanwe won the Silver Award in 2013 for the miniaturized etching press, a Pram Halfwood in the Unexpected Design category; this year, we won the Silver Award for the WeeWoodie Rembrandt Press in the Toy, Games and Hobby Products category.

Next year, we will enter the design of the Seattle Printmaking Center; therefore, the most attractive winners of 2014 that I looked at and include below connect not only with our primary mission of providing smart artist’s instruments to professionals and educators but also for our 2015 entry, the Center.

It is early in the planning, but it is certain that our entry will encompass architecture, interior design, exhibition design, hospitality, multimedia device and games. There are almost 100 categories from which to choose in the A'Design Award and Competition!
Looking at the pictures to make a selection of my favorites to share with readers, I felt like an art student all over. Seeing hundreds of masterful design works inspires ways we might show the uniqueness of the Seattle printmaking experience to Seattle’s visitors and also within a virtual printmaking world.
You can see the categories and the awards at And if you and your organization want to, you can take advantage of the cost-saving, early-bird, discounted entry fee deal, at

Following are some of the images that stopped me in my scroll through the hundreds of pictures of winners’ works. I indicated the link to the entry under each picture so you can read the details as “from the horses’ mouths.”
Artist habitat, in the title of this prize-winner, reminds me how the Seattle Printmaking Center will have housing for creative people who contribute to Center programming and visiting artists will have an apartment for their stay.

Thinking about a printmaking board game in which printmaking, prints, and printmakers are the parts that make up the game turns me on. Add collectible playing cards, a printmaking fantasy land, sci-fi and time travel and you have products selling at the Seattle Printmaking Center. Not only home-grown, indigenous games but games produced by printmakers all over the world.

The idea of convertible, detachable and trans-formal games and detachable devices makes me think of re-tachable devices such as our Halfwood Press, an etching press with a brain. The apps depicted on the screen in this picture would be printmaking apps and online printmaking games and magazines, graphic novels and more. They can be produced in the Seattle Printmaking Center.

How is a Roman Warrior helmet like a Do-it-yourself printing press? The former is not utilitarian; the latter is useful; and they send a different message. But they share one thing—and that important thing for transferable skills is the maker aspect. Kids grow when they put things together and can put them together again.

Ireland’s Google headquarters has interior design that reflects the industry and I’m inspired by the several designs built for Google around the world. No doubt our Seattle Printmaking Center will attract a diverse group of hi-tech underwriters because Seattle artists are hi-tech, hi-touch printmakers. is called “Any 202 Tablet for K-12 Education,” entered by Portugal’s Jp-Inspiring Knowledge. I would like to connect with a company making K-12 tablets like this, as any company that is interested in printmaking arts for K-12 people (and their grown-up friends and parents, too).

There will be a Seattle Printmaking Center website focused on learning printmaking and a user interface. In this example, instead of college graduates the resources will be open to almost anyone, anywhere, anytime in Persistent Online Open Courses originated in Seattle with Seattle’s unique blend of old and new technologies. 
An “iLoop” might be a better way to relate mobile devices to smart presses and give printmaking students access to their virtual printmaking teachers. These would be for sale at the Seattle Printmaking Center Store online where content providers develop for printmaking education 
An online digital printmaking magazine will originate at the Seattle Printmaking Center, and this picture of one award-winning online magazine which illustrates it on three platforms. Our online printmaking magazine will be the first to produce an online printmaking magazine in the USA, but it is also an international magazine. As with all the businesses housed in the Center, profits flow toward sustaining the center and its programs for printmakers. 
“Mixed use,” the category of this winner, sounds exactly like what the Seattle Printmaking Center would be, like a mini-college with an emphasis on people, printmaking and multimedia education.

The word, mediatheque reminded me of the word cinematheque, and brought to my mind the all-encompassing nature of the Seattle Printmaking Center vision—bringing prehistoric handprints into the same environment of Seattle’s renowned multimedia technologies.

The Seattle Printmaking Center is for interpretation. This winner’s museum display system offers kiosks which could tell the story of the evolution of media arts from the time of prehistoric cave handprints to reach today’s new Seattle-area industries.
Great humor! In items related to printmaking are the conceptual Artists’ Ghosts—a flash memory drive mounted in a likeness of Rembrandt. That’s one example. Another nutty idea is my WallNut—a push pin in a walnut shell. These are little money-makers to support the Seattle Printmaking Center. 
A Chinese graphic design, which could be a poster or a stamp, attracted me to it because the Seattle Printmaking Center will include reproductions of art by Seattle’s designers who are either printmakers, too, or who collaborate with printmakers and performance artists to publish their art, design and crafts. 
Say “education” and my heart goes pitty-pat, and this entry does it. I visualize the images on the screen as being partly related to the history of printmaking with plenty of resources that originated from printmakers around the world and published by experts at the Seattle Printmaking Center.

Visualize a stone hand, not merely a handprint on stone, and you have the kind of association with the handprints on the stone walls of caves. These inspired the connection between performance and printmaking which connects to the core value of the Seattle Printmaking Center. 
A printmaker studio furniture workshop is part of the Factory School located in the Seattle Printmaking Center concept, and this image reminded me that designers in wood will find plenty of inspiration to produce for the printmaking studio furniture market.
If there are goddesses of media arts, they will come—I was mindful of this when I read the title of this entry, and I could not leave it out. My muse (her name is Media) insisted!
There were other pictures that stopped me in my review of the A’Design Award winner showing—interior designs for restaurants and mini-homes, multimedia display designs, games, hi-tech devices and others. In closing I will leave them here with my crib sheet.

We could have a lot of fun meeting with companies like this.
docking station to connect printmakers with other printmakers worldwide.
Detachable devices make me think of re-tachable devices.
The SPC needs a nice restaurant.
Workspace makes me think of the Live Artists.
Multimedia, now we’re cooking – this is the arcade of prints.
Cafes are one of the best places for printmakers to meet.
You have to think about a logo or brand.

You need to keep high tech and virtual worlds in mind.

Thanks for reading! Enjoy more at A’Design Award and Competition

Friday, April 11, 2014

Ethan Lind, Busker-Etcher on banjo.

See Ethan most Wednesdays and Thursdays at the Pike Place Market, printing copper etchings on a Mini Etching Press. Sorry - the Agitated Strings Band demo disk is not ready to share.

Bluegrass Emeralda

These are songs inspired by my work with Ethan Lind and the Agitated String Band—a bluegrass band in Seattle. Ethan is a painter and etcher, too, besides a banjo player.
Emeralda is a mythical ship I imagined brought the design of the Halfwood Press to me, and after ten years of making these presses it happened that Ethan Lind stopped by my shop. Together we made a plan: If he could get a spot at the Pike Place Market, I would loan him a Halfwood Press so he could get more exposure. In addition, I would give him pointers in the art of etching and printing.
I knew he had a bluegrass band, and this interested me because Peter Rowan, world-renowned bluegrass musician had bought two Halfwood Presses. My secret desire was that I would find musicians to collaborate in the Emeralda songbook. After all, what is a story without music?
The difficulty was that I never thought the bluegrass genre had a connection with the Emeralda story. The first Emeralda, a ship of the frigate type, was made in Spain. It was lost in the failed Spanish Armada. A copy was made a century and half later, which carried the Halfwood Press to our part of the world in the mid-18th Century. It was bound for China, but was sunk by a giant rogue wave in Puget Sound.
Bluegrass music may have originated in Europe, and it may be related to sea shanties—but that’s only conjecture. Clearly, bluegrass music is no more connected to the elements of the Emeralda myth than, say, hip hop.
However, I noticed that the most recent version of Hunger Games (or was it Game of Thrones?) was going to have a hip hop sound track. Then, maybe bluegrass could serve the Emeralda saga.
I always think the people who have been interest in the Halfwood Press are like “gifts” on my pathway. What they contribute is anybody’s guess. Money, yes, but there are more important things in art—and art is what I find in common Peter Rowan and also Ethan Lind and the Agitated Strings Band.

Practice session – April 8, 2014

Ethan invited me to listen in on a practice session. I recorded on my pocket camera—a very old camcorder with a broken sound system. The next day I made a DVD for it, thinking it would be a useful experience. Also, I want our daughter and son-in-law to consider hiring the Agitated Strings for their Wedding vow renewal, coming up.
I also wanted to continue to solve the riddle, “How could Bluegrass music serve my Emeralda story?” Besides these, which are my personal interests, I have a dream to bring Peter Rowan to Seattle for a fundraising concert to support the Seattle Printmaking Center development, and have Ethan’s band open for him.


It is common in bluegrass to hear stories of love, heartbreak, and other kinds of personal relationships. Sometimes animals, sometimes old pickups or guns—anything that people love. So maybe there is a clue in this love element. You can love a printing press, can’t you?
You can love a ship – even if it’s a made-up ship like the Emeralda. You can love a vision. Look at what the Gibbs brothers did.

Another element is the hero’s journey—common in books, screenplays and sagas in every kind of artistic creation.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Musical Dinner Theater 

It all comes to this 

He has a concept for a 12-course offering in a story about a sailor, a stolen da Vinci drawing, a kidnapping and a magical, musical printing press. As songs and twelve ethnic dishes are served to an audience, we re-discover the lost ship, the Emeralda II. 

Fact or fiction? 

In art, we sometimes experience make-believe worlds populated by make-believe people. In the minds of the artistic creators, crafters, designers and directors of teams of people, the make-believe world and its people come to life briefly—they live and die away as though their stories could actually have happened. As such, they become heroes and villains, unfortunate losers and masters of their chosen destinies. They interact with each other, with Nature, and wrestle with mechanization which, if it wins, will take command.
This proposal for a Musical Dinner Theater production comes from one author who had many opportunities to find and develop the elements of the story titled, Emeralda. It is a story in many parts, and on the occasion of a chance meeting with the Artistic Director of Gallery Concerts—a performing group specializing in period music and instrumentation—it is fit into the musical dinner theater art form.


“The Jewel of the Ocean” was the name given to a ship in the 1500s by its architect, a Basque shipbuilder. The Emeralda was the fastest frigate of its day. Its secret design made it outrun pirates and win shipping contracts even into its second generation, the Emeralda II, the daughter frigate restored in the 1700s.
In the 16th Century, a Jesuit order had come into possession of a diary by a sailor who had been to the far east; and also a stolen drawing by Leonardo da Vinci. Led by an enterprising member of the order, they made plans to trade with the people of the Celestial Empire.
In his diary, the sailor cautioned that any European who wished to do business in China would have to bring things both beautiful and functional. In Spain, a monk found two brothers one a renowned steel wright and the other a fine luthier. With gold, the order contracted with the two to make a European-style printing press which the Chinese were bound to treasure.
To the brothers the monk suggested that the wood from the French fer grape could be used, or perhaps lignum vitae. The steel wright and the luthier knew better, and they contrived to combined wood and steel by fixing the materials together with pins. The finished printing press was called the media ferlignum imprimo machinamentum, the Halfwood Press.
By 1746, several models of the Halfwood Press were completed and, along with other trade goods, they were part of the manifest on the Emeralda II, contracted for the voyage to China. The ship was manned by officers and crew of an extraordinary kind—not the usual able-but-rough-and-tumble lot. The navigator, for example, had turned down a position with the famed explorer, Vitus Bering, an old friend. The Emeralda's navigator spoke several languages, including Russian.


Meanwhile, far north, in Russia, as the Halfwood Press was coming into being and plans being made for the expedition, a boy was kidnapped and was taken on a trek across Russia to the eastern coast. He was eleven at the time he was stolen and when he reached Kamchatka, he was fourteen. He was taken as a cabin boy on a mission to trade with the natives of the Americas for fur. His story is an adventure in itself, and includes the miraculous intersection with the voyagers of the Emeralda.

Many subplots

The treatment of this story, to be adapted to Musical Dinner Theater, remains to be adapted to musical theater. It will include the rescue of twin girls from slavery on Madeira, a stopover in Desterro (Florianopolis, the “Floripa” of today), a Colombian emerald and the tragic ending of the voyage in the San Juan Islands of Washington State.

My ongoing story

Despite the failure of the fictional mission to China, as I made in my works of art, writing and teaching, the story of the Emeralda and the Halfwood Press inspired my ten years of production of Halfwood Presses—the jewel to crown my fifty years of making prints and teaching the enjoyment the printmaking experience in its many transformations.
Then, on March 27th, three days before I wrote this essay--in San Francisco--I met with visitors from Taiwan and sold them a model of the Halfwood Press. The Emeralda mission, with the Halfwood Press, has succeeded.

To make it known for the enjoyment of others

I am proposing the production of an experience for audiences to enjoy the fantasy that I built into, and made manifest in, Halfwood Presses which stems from my belief that mechanical and digital reproduction evolved over hundreds of centuries from hand prints on the walls of prehistoric peoples’ performance chambers—the caves—to include today’s artistic communication technologies. Musical dinner theater is one way to show that live performance cannot be replaced by new technologies, no matter how divinely it is crafted and widely disseminated, but they complement one another.

I think musical dinner theater is an ideal format with which to give young people a way to see the complementary relationship of living and media arts.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Perfect Storm of Printmaking 

Conditions for Seattle Printmaking Center 

According to a radio story about the Stradivarius violin, experts can’t figured out why these instruments have an extraordinary sound. There is speculation that it could have been the of 17th Century ecosystem likened to an arts and intellect “ecosystem.” 


In 2000, a film, based on a book by the same title, Perfect Storm was released and the expression perfect storm has become popular. It means any event where a situation is aggravated drastically by an exceptionally rare combination of circumstances. It can mean, for example, a list of meteorological factors that lead to a flood. I am using the expression to describe a series of seven factors spanning fifty years that may bring about a new printmaking center in Seattle.

Factor 1 - luck

While I am not the smartest person you will meet, I have been one of the luckiest. Starting my life as a farm boy was a positive factor in my ability to study my way off the farm and use artistic skills I inherited from my mother. My father taught me discipline and with these i was able to get my bachelor’s and master’s degrees and—what is factor 1—a college teaching job.

Factor 2 - naiveté

In the nineteen years that I was a college teacher I went from a naive 26-year old instructor—the lowest rank on the academic ladder—to a naive 43-year old full professor with tenure. In my naiveté, I carried my first impressions of what higher education means all the way to my resignation from the University Of Washington. It was my belief that the system was corrupted by a few university administration people, some faculty, and some students.

Factor 3 - corruption

It is said in Sayre’s Law, that "In any dispute the intensity of feeling is inversely proportional to the value of the issues at stake." By way of corollary, it adds: "That is why academic politics are so bitter." My bitterness in resigning was not so much the fact that my research in art, technology, and emerging globalization was stymied by art school politics as it was in the opportunities that were showing up all around the Pacific Northwest. From Oregon to British Columbia, new technologies useful to artists were inviting and open to exploration.

Factor 4 - students

In the ten years before I resigned, I had a decade to work with students who, like me, frustrated with the art school dogma, nepotism, male chauvinism and rigid curricula. It was the height of protest in the United States with issues that included civil rights, the Vietnam conflict, assassinations and government corruption. The fourth factor in my “perfect storm” was the intellectual and ethical expressions my students were involved in; I was swept up in their curiosity as to what the new technologies and new artistic movements might offer them for their careers in art. They graduated and went on to prove their point by being successful on their own terms, not the terms of the schools of art.

Factor 5 - restraint

For ten more years I struggled to find ways to make a living for my family by applying what I had been teaching in college. The system was against me, however, because technology continued to be anathematic to the existing art museum and gallery atmosphere. For awhile, alternative art galleries gave artists some space and time—notably And/Or and COCA—but the art medium I believe to be the root of all new art and technology developments (which is printmaking) continued to be restricted to traditional printmaking, thanks to the UW School Of Art, which was putting printmaking back in its pre-war level as being a minor art.

Factor 6 - internet

The internet opened up in 1994, and my cocoon period ended because with the internet I could apply what I had learned in college. The globalization I witnessed when I went around the world on my fact-finding mission of 1983 could now be realized. I took what I learned in school from my students, who by now were successful mid-career professionals, and architected a curriculum around printmaking as the nexus of new technologies. I put a high value on the intellectual side of artistic creativity, discovery, imagination and invention and made it an imaginary place I named Emeralda, referring to the emerald region spanning Oregon, Washington and British Columbia.

Factor 7 – Halfwood PressGhost

Researching the term perfect storm in Wikipedia, I found: “The first use of the expression in the meteorological sense comes from the March 20, 1936, issue of the Port Arthur News in Texas: "The weather bureau describes the disturbance as ‘the perfect storm’ of its type. Seven factors were involved in the chain of circumstances that led to the flood." (My italics). Seven is a good number to stop on, and Factor 7 is the press I designed I call the Halfwood. By adding the flash memory drive so I could put my ghost in this new machine, it is more than an etching press; I borrowed the term platform from the digital technology industry and I applied it to what this etching press really is—a platform for both intellectual, artistic, learning and communal pursuits.

Bases for a Seattle Printmaking Center

Since 1966 when I came to Seattle, I have wanted to be part of a printmaking community which had both a clearly beneficial position in Seattle and a fluid, creative core. In that year, the Northwest Printmakers Society was slowly shutting down—for reasons I am still not sure of but probably because of a lack of money. That organization re-emerged in Portland about ten years later because Gordon Gilkey—the city’s most ardent advocate for traditional printmaking—cultivated the idea successfully.
Traditional printmaking clubs and workshops are located in major cities—and some out-of-the-way places—around the world. However, when I visited them in 1983, they were moribund, often empty rooms with plenty of space and equipment but few people actually working there. Sometimes, but rarely, I found foreign printmaking workshops were dabbling in things like video and computer graphics and this gave me the evidence I needed to transform printmaking back home in Seattle.
It is not only money that keeps printmaking organizations from becoming important community centers, it is a backward-looking policy, a fondness for hands-on, old timey crafts similar to what you see in weaving, ceramics, and other crafts centers. Tourists visit these centers to see how things used to be done, or clubs form around resurrecting the old days of war, agricultural practices, and entertainment. Experience is key to the success of these centers.
A Seattle Printmaking Center would combine the seven factors above, which would culminate in the printing press platform for using digital technologies to be both teacher and stage for the artists who use the Halfwoods. The presses are gateways or portals to bigger worlds, yet they are simultaneously a beautiful functional instrument for the art, craft and design of printmaking for the 21st Century.

Best of all, the Seattle Printmaking Center would also be a factory school located in a place like the Pike Place Market redevelopment where people learn all about printmaking while they produce the cash-cow of the center—Halfwood Presses.