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.
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
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.
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
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
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
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