I inherited these screens secondhand from an independent printer, and I exist as I am by right of their grace. Six months ago, I scoured craigslist, poor as fuck, with 100 dollars, a dream, and no idea what I was about to get into.
At one point, I mentioned gathering tools to start a studio, and I was given everything — a collection of screens, chemicals, and tools that barely fit in my car.
After getting home and sorting everything out, I saw a timeline. I saw an origin of small picture frames still wet with globs of plastisol, to mass produced wooden poster frames. Process ranging from haphazard staples to glue laid streamlined and seamless. I was amazed to see measured growing competence in rendering and craft in the trade I was about to inherit. Screens etched and re-etched with work titles and multiple versions. Hours of trial and error, of human loss, and victory. It had a sacred quality.
From what I know of the story, it took a sour turn, and it’s best left at that. It’s an allegory of life, in that no matter how secure or established you become, chaos finds you, and the world crumbles. But there is hope, in that you pick up the pieces, you grow, and you learn. (And sometimes, others learn with you) As I worked, I began to destroy the images as I used the screens, because I didn’t want the temptation to print them — I felt I had no right to the work of another in the same trade. Many of the images are beautiful. Some of them reflect local business that I haven’t seen or heard of — History of our city exists in them.
A friend of mine was bothered that I was destroying them. We cut out the remaining ones and they kept them. My friend is a world traveler, so who knows where these pieces will end up. What greater compliment for an artist is there than that?
I thought it fitting, as I haphazardly staple my screens, that I salute my nameless mentor, as I walk blindly into this trade, stepping through footsteps already taken. I hope I can inspire the lives of others in my community through my exit in the same way when the time comes. At least I can dream.