Artists discuss their paths to success at meeting

Jackie Mantey

Liz Maugans of Zygote Press speaks as part of a pannel on printmaking in the art building last night.

Credit: Jason Hall

“Tenacity, balls and sticking with it.”

According to Tom Little, director of Brand X Editions, a print-making shop in New York, this is all that is needed to be succesful … for him, anyway.

Last night, an eight-person panel joined the School of Art’s presentation of Pressing On: Alumni Artists Create Master Print Shops. To an audience of faculty, students and community members, they explained their paths from college students to professional print makers and the future of their craft.

The panel discussion kicked off the exhibit of five print shops’ art work, which can be found in the Student Gallery located on the first floor of the Art Building.

“We have five shops, make that five enterprises, represented here,” said Christine Havice, director of the School of Art.

Those five enterprises started out as five people with a goal to be print makers and no money to start it off, Havice said.

For Curlee Raven Holton, a 1989 graduate of the university, that goal started with several die-hard companions and a “broken-bread press” located in an apartment building.

“We were typing in the living room and etching outside,” Holton said.

Fast forward 16 years and Holton heads Experimental Print Institute, a print-making shop that works with the William Center for the Arts at Lafayette College in Easton, Pa.

EPI investigates new approaches to print making while working with the artist, students and college. They also strive to support artists of color who are under-represented in the art field, Holton said.

Little said dropping out of college and heading for New York City got him to where he is today.

“I was sitting behind a bar,” Little joked of his college experience. “I got here because I am the way I am. I was just friends with some dude’s roommate who introduced me to Robert Blanton (founder of Brand X Editions).”

The panel found that once they got on their feet, or off the bar stool, the business came to them.

“The saying ‘If you build it, they will come’ is very true,” said Liz Maugans, a 1989 graduate of the university and co-founder of Zygote Press, a print-making shop located in Cleveland. “Once we got the ball rolling, the specifics unraveled and came to us.”

Zygote first opened with 200 people from the east all the way to the west and studios filled up, Maugans said.

“There were 90 degree days with 46 people in a little shop,” Maugans said. “There was a lot of B.O., but it was beautiful. I was impressed to be working with other artists.”

The large interest in their shops was not uncommon. Robert Beckman, a graduate of KSU in 1985 with a Master of Fine Arts, noted there is a need for print making, or some sort of art in every community.

Artists Image Resource, Beckman’s company in Pittsburgh, has a main goal to involve the community. They have several outreach programs where they work with local high schools and get the students involved with the Andy Warhol Museum, Beckman said.

“Communities are faced with artist thinking when they are more accesible to art,” Beckman said. “This creates a dynamic community which I would rather live in.”

As for the future of print making, all panel members agreed sunglasses might be in order, but they had different views of what the future should hold for students.

“The body of work you create should be for the legacy, not for the money,” Holton said.

Little agreed that the future looked “rosy,” but thought more on the business end of things.

“The future looks exciting right now, but as students it’s important for you to remember look for a job to make money to exist,” he said. “Spiritually, I’m behind what you are saying, but you must pay the bills.”

The panel wrapped up by describing what they thought made them succesful. Although several members quoted luck as their best friend, Noel Reifel, a Print faculty member at the university, told the crowd that luck rarely has anything to do with it.

“You get lucky because you are prepared to be lucky,” he said, referring to an education and hard work.

The eight-member panel was comprised of Little, Holton, Maugans, Reifel, Beckman, Michael Loderstedt, associate professor of art, Heather White, Beckman’s assitant and Rachel Elsasser, senior fine arts major and summer intern to John Greco, 1981 graduate of the university and founder of Josephine Press in Santa Monica, Calif.

Contact School of Art and College of Architecture reporter Jackie Mantey at [email protected].