That’s a huge accomplishment! When you create a negative and you do a print, how many prints do you do in a series?
To get one that works or as far as just making…
Well let’s say you get one that works. Do you just do a mono-print then or do you do several?
I thought about with these large prints, I did an edition of 5. So far, I’ve been printing them as I go. I haven’t sold very many, but when I do, so far I’ve made a few and just kept track of where they are.
I’m going to jump ahead here because I’m curious to know. How do you frame those pieces?
I actually ordered one from you guys. I had to get something traditionally framed with a mat, so I got like thick black frame, but you’ll probably see on my website, I’ve been showing those unframed most of the time, just because of shipping. I would love to have them all protected, but that’s a huge FedEx art box. It’s great but it’s tricky.
Oh it’s extremely expensive at that size. The oversize charges are crazy. As for exhibiting something like that, that’s a tough one. So you exhibit them just as paper?
Yeah, and I do like that better. I got to sort of try that out in school for my MFA show. I got this wooden bar with magnets imbedded in it and then I put the print on top and just put tiny magnets to attach it. They kind of hang loose. They kind of moved a little bit, like lean. But I’ve only sent them off as a group to about two places and I’ll send a bottom bar so they can firmly secure it.
You’re not concerned about them ripping?
I have two thoughts on it. Some of my professors who had young kids said ‘well, you know, what if a kid comes in here and grabs it?’ And I thought, well you know what, I would be okay with that. I feel like impermanence is a part of all this artwork.
That’s absolutely true. That allows you to take the concept of impermanence a step further.
I haven’t had any casualties yet.
I hope you don’t because it sounds like you put a lot into each one! It sounds like this is almost like a very tactile process for you, even though you’re a photographer.
Absolutely. I was trying to describe these prints to a place that said they don’t really sell a lot of photography and I was like, ‘they’re sort of like paintings in a way.’ I do know that paintings are sort of one of a kind, I could remake this print but they’re all a little bit different each time, so if something did happen I know its not a complete fiasco.
So I’m just going to throw an idea out at you and you can tell me if it’s a bad idea. I don’t get offended. But maybe what you might want to try, is after you finish one of your rice paper works, is to photograph one and then print it. Have it available for printing on another type of substrate so that it has a longer life. So you’d have one set of images on the rice paper and then maybe it would take a different form if you photographed it and printed it another way.
That’s an interesting idea. I hadn’t figured all that out yet. Even when I was submitting for this contest I thought ‘hmm how would I do this print’ like if someone printed it, it would be on another material or it would be sort of just a copy of the original. That’s a good idea.
Yes. I definitely wouldn’t want to see it printed on a watercolor paper or something like that. But maybe some of your rice paper things would be really good on a textured paper or a real soft, one of the papers we sell is called Hahnemuhle Photo Rag, I’m sure you’ve heard of it. But it’s just a beautiful, soft white, thick art paper. I could see some of the rice paper images translating well to something like that, in order to give an image a different kind of life after you’ve worked it. Just a thought.
Yeah, I completely agree with what you said, as you were talking it made me think of people who do tintypes, you know the one of a kind process. And I thought about it and I do think that some of them print on a paper like Hahnemuhle and do prints that way.
If you ever want to experiment let me know.
I appreciate that!
Seriously, I’ll get a proof done for you. It’s not a problem. So how do you see your art evolving at this point?
That’s a tough one. I guess I’m still making some images right now that still sort of go with a series I’ve been working on. But this summer I’ll be working up in Maine again and they do a lot more processes so I’m open to trying out some other things. Maybe even using color, since everything I’ve done is kind of monotone. So that was probably my first thought. I’ll see maybe about trying another process possibly.
When you say you go to Maine, what’s it called, there’s an actual series of workshops up there every year for photographers.
Yeah, Maine Media Workshops.
Yes, so I have a friend who is one of the instructors there.
Who is it!?
Do you know Terry Abrams?
Okay, the name is familiar but I don’t actually know him.
If you have a chance to meet him or take any of his classes, he’s a local Ann Arbor photographer and he runs a program at Washtenaw Community College. He used to run it at University of Michigan and then left 20 years ago to start it at the community college and he’s just really an incredible photographer. He takes this idea of a painterly approach to his photography as well.
Wow! That’s amazing.
Yeah, he’s bought up tons of enlargers for the Washtenaw program. Anytime he has a chance to buy equipment from photography studios or dark rooms that have closed. He’s brining in a lot of the old equipment and mixing it with the new technology like you were talking about. So it might be interesting for you to connect with him.
I’ll have to look up their schedule and see who all is coming. I’ll be working there as a teaching assistant.
Mainly just in that one area, in the alternative process area. I did go there last summer as an intern. So that’s sort of how I started. It was a really great place and the instructors - there are so many of them coming in, and it’s wonderful to meet them.
It’s a superior experience! So this is a question where I get a lot of chuckles from the artists, when I ask: how do you decide what to price?
It’s a good one. I think it took me the entire past year to figure all that out. Being out of school, because you know, people would ask to buy something and at the time it wasn’t much a priority. But I started calculating; well first I emailed one of my professors who gave me a very logical answer. And my dad kind of gave me the same sort of business-like model. Basically, just calculate your time, your materials and what your time is worth of making something. So I just took that and came up with some estimates. But I still, personally, struggle a little bit, thinking about what to charge. But I just started selling some prints on Etsy and so I thought ‘okay what’s something that’s affordable but also worth the effort of making it?’ so I managed to come up with a pretty good price for different sizes.
What do you charge for one of your large rice prints?
What I did was, instead of doing them on the Japanese paper, which is really fragile, I used a stiffer watercolor paper and then did them smaller, like 12 x 18, and I charge $260 a print which included the shipping materials. So, they’re still printed the same way, just on a stronger paper so people won’t worry about it falling apart.