I recently switched to a new way of drawing. It wasn't on purpose, but it's changed the way I see the world entirely.Read More
I was recently asked to draw a poster for Snarky Puppy's September 19-20 dates at Reggies in Chicago. This band is one of the most entertaining I've seen. They have so much fun playing their instruments and doing it really well. Their new music is really big and reminded me of the desert, so I thought I'd play with some scale here.
Here's a little teaser of my favorite tent I drew.
I'll be putting this bad boy up in the shop the day of the show. I'll do a more detailed process post and show how it evolved.
In the meantime, do the smart thing and buy a ticket.
I recently was commissioned to draw and print a gig poster for Adam Busch's residency at The Hideout. I wasn't familiar with his tunes before I was approached, but when I heard his various projects, like Sonoi and his solo work, there was a lightness and warmth to it that made me think of going to the drive-in as a kid. I jumped on the chance to draw a poster inspired by drive-in signage.
I usually go pretty loose with my initial idea before I put any thing down on film or start cutting ruby, but for this one I held off until I knew 100% what the print would look like. I even used some Prisma markers to spec colors, and determine what shade of yellow I'd use for the overprint.
The importance of a solid concept.
I learned that it's better to tighten up the concept as much as possible before the print. Doing everything by hand means that I need to draw carefully and thoughtfully, considering every shape and piece of type and how it relates to the final print. There was even some math involved while drawing the type... but not too much because I didn't want to give myself a headache!
There's a fine line between being precise and being expressive, and this print successfully does both. I'm super stoked at how it turned out, and I even saw it living out in the real world at Reckless Records in Wicker Park!
On to the next one!
The Eagle Rose and I'm Here to Take Your Money will be flying overseas to make my international debut.
I recently pulled an art print version of a gig poster for Papa, which has been flying across state lines as of late. I got word a few weeks back that the folks at Druck Berlin Screenprint Festival wanted me to participate in the festival. It's being held December 6-22 at Stattbad, a once swimming pool converted into a center for art, music and culture. I don't have the extra cash to make it for the festival, so I decided to send some work in my place.
There will be tons of screenprinters from around the world participating in various capacities, including live printing in front of a giant crowd in a swimming pool. No joke, it's a huge swimming pool. Screenprinters from around the world will be crammed in to the pool to make prints for passersby.
Thank goodness for the internet.
I'm super humbled and still in shock that they asked me to submit work. I have no idea how they would have heard of me, but I'm sure I have the internet to thank for that. I still haven't been overseas, but at least a part of me will be traveling abroad, clearing a path for me when I actually get there.
Look out Berlin, here I come!
This week I had the pleasure of printing an edition for Adrianne Hawthorne. I met her during Moving Design last Spring, during which I helped print the participants PSA posters calling for more sustainable practices from the businesses the West Loop. She designed a poster calling for more composting, so I thought it would be perfect to use my spice-inks to bring the message to life.
I printed 50 in paprika and 50 in cinnamon, and boy do they smell fresh!
What I Learned This Time
1. If you're going to print with spices, you need to use a screen with a low mesh count, like 110 or 125. Nothing beyond that.
Once you get into the 180 mesh count range, the screen doesn't allow for most spices to be pushed through the screen, so all you end up with is a vague tint of the color and a bunch of medium. The lower the screen count, the better.
2. Cutting your paper before you print saves time and makes registration easier.
This may be obvious to some printers out there, but I had been trimming my work after I printed it. Cutting it down to size before allows you to get a tighter registration and ultimately better print.
3. Do not rush the process.
My first printmaking teacher Ina Kaur, who is a wonderful printmaker still, taught me that printing is a cathartic practice, not something that can be rushed. You must feel the print going through your hands and onto the paper each time.
If you're interested in buying one, please contact either me or Adrianne by email at email@example.com.
Over the past few months I've been feeling very restless. Not only did we move the entire CAD studio across town, but I've been doing a lot more design than printing. I've had to pick up the slack by taking on more remote clients. I can feel it mentally and physically.
Humans were not meant to sit behind a computer screen for 8+ hours a day pushing around a mouse. The computer is necessary for me to communicate with clients, dig for inspiration and stay on top of all things Idiot Pull, but it can be a crutch. Ever since I ditched the computer and switched to an entirely hand-drawn process, I feel less like a designer and more like a craftsman. I'm no longer tied to certain sensibilities I have as a graphic designer, freeing my mind and hands up to pour myself into print that I make.
There have been week stretches where I only used the computer for communication with clients and to look up source images to draw my posters. That week was the happiest I've been with my work in a long time. I was working 10+ hours a day just drawing and printing, but I felt more refreshed after those days than the ones spent hunched over a laptop.
Using my hands satisfies the innate urge to mold and shape the world into one that I more easily relate with. I'm able to create artifacts and contribute to the visual culture of my time.
I'm not saying that you should all throw your computers away and do what I'm doing, it's just not for everybody. I admire a lot of poster artists that use the computer to make their images, but it's not something I would ever copy. I'm interested in making images and marks with my hands so that I can feel each print run through me; from my brain, to my hands to the paper. I'm proud to say that a blank sheet of paper no longer looks like purgatory, it looks like a fresh start and I get excited just thinking about it.
Idiot Pull is now a full-service print shop.
I'm officially open for business to silkscreen other people's designs. I'll print anything as long as it's on paper, like greeting cards, wedding invitations, posters and anything else you can dream up. I can cut, fold and deliver some tasty prints to your door-step. I'm not going to stop making my own work, but I find that I like printing for other people too.
Everything I print will be pulled and printed 100% by hand, no automatic presses here! This technique causes tiny differences to occur each time I pull the squeegee, so each print is one-of-a-kind. It's inevitable that these differences will occur because I'm pulling them by hand, so if you're looking for perfect prints go to Kinko's! In this humble printer's mind, if it's not silkscreened it's not a real poster.
I will take on any design you give me and wrangle it onto the best paper money can buy with hand-mixed inks and a ton of care. You just can't match the quality of a screen-printed invitation or poster, it always feels like it was just printed. If you want a timeless way to bring your design to life on paper, you've come to the right place. You have the satisfaction of knowing that you'll get the best that these arms can pull!
I Teach Silkscreening at Chicago Art Department
Our first class is on November 16 & 17 from 11am-4pm each day. We'll be walking you through the process of printing your own poster, either from a design you dreamt up or from our extensive library of drawings and shapes from our old prints. The first day will cover the tools, process and screen-prep, and the second will be exposing and printing your screen. You even have the option of playing ping-pong and darts while your print is drying.
The Computer and Screen-printing
I have some mad respect for the computer, in fact if I didn't have one I couldn't make a living as a freelancer. I came to find out a year or two after school that I become quite a zombie when I use it as my only tool of making day-in and day-out. A good friend of mine once told me that the computer is a good tool, but it can be a crutch. After CAD's printer broke, I decided to go at it with my hands alone so that I couldn't be tripped up throughout the process by malfunctioning technology.
How to Do it Analog Style
Separating Your Colors with Rubylith
Rubylith is a film that you cut out to make a negative of your image. It's a sandwich of a fine film of red, or ruby, material and a film of transparency. Use a dull exacto-knife to cut your image out of the ruby. It should be dull because if it's too sharp you can cut through both the red layer and the transparency, causing you a lot of trouble when it comes time to register all the colors together. Think about cutting your film like this:
Whatever you want to print needs to be red.
Drawling Your "Keyline"
This method for printing is broken up into a few parts: the color separations and the keyline. The keyline is typically printed in black and is the "key" to tying all of the colors together into one cohesive poster, but you can use any color to print this you want. My "Papa" poster had no black keyline, just a blue eagle overprinted on some yellow to complete the print.
Use the finished keyline to cut and register your other colors. I just tape them on top of one another and cut, but make sure you have a plan for what will be what color. If you mess up and cut something out you shouldn't have, take your Thick DecoColor and fill in the area you messed up.
All you need to do this is any type of heavier weight transparency and some paint markers. I use Deco-Color paint markers (pictured below) and sheets of drawing film.
The trick to the pens is pressing just hard enough to let the paint come out in a nice smooth stream. You shouldn't "sketch" on the film with these.
I wait until I have all of the information from the venue or client until I start making my film. This prevents any unnecessary mistakes.
I used to go right to the film because I was getting too antsy, but I've learned it saves more time and makes the poster better if I draw the thing with pencil. I include every single detail on this pencil drawing. This way if you work smart, you can knock the film out in 1-shot.
You Will Make Mistakes
I find that this is the process with most room for error, so make sure your marker saturated the line enough so that you can't see any light at all coming out the other side. A good way to do this is on a light table. Below I are some examples of finished keylines and sketches used to make them.
It's inevitable that you'll trip up somewhere during this process because you're human. The only advice I have is to try, try and try again. You'll learn techniques that work best for you and your process. This is just how I do it.
If you have any questions along the way, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll do my darndest to answer it as best I can.
How to Make a Spice Print
I did an experiment in college printing with sustainable inks and eventually tried cinnamon, which makes a nice deep brown ink. That lead to a kind of hobby of mine, to find alternative inks to print with. Many cultures have been cultivating and grinding planets to make inks for centuries before me, so I knew it could be done.
- A jar of cinnamon, paprika or turmeric, or other spice with a ton of pigment
- A few ounces of silkscreen medium
- A low mesh screen
1. Pour the whole jar of spice into a container of some sort.
2. Mix medium at a 1:1 ratio.
3. Mix until it becomes the consistency of smooth cake frosting
Spices That Work Best
No matter what spice or material that you're using, it has to have a lot of pigment. Spices that have a lot of spices tend to be hot colored, turmeric makes a great yellow and paprika makes a red/brown. I encourage you to try and crazy thing you can think of to make alternative inks! I found some great ways to print a poster for super cheap.
The lower the mesh of the screen, the richer the color will be.
For the banana print below I used a 110-count screen, which yielded a perfect coat of spice-ink on the paper. There will inevitably be some bleeding of the ink as the medium separates from the spice on the paper, but it's nothing to be concerned about. The important thing is that it's possible!
The finished print will vary depending on the simplicity of your art or design, so be aware that the simpler the art, the better one of these prints turns out. Mine turned out really well, with an even layer of ink that still smells like turmeric to this day. I'm not sure of the shelf-life of these prints, but I would guess it's somewhere around a million years.
If you have any questions about anything you've read here, email email@example.com. He'll be able to answer all your questions in a timely manner.