Being an artist with another job means that time to make things is always precious and passes too fast. I just finished an intense (as in, very focused) and awesome bookbinding session in preparation for Canzine next Sunday. I managed to also force myself to take many process shots. I get so detail oriented and INTO IT when I’m working that it can be hard to remember to stop and pick up my camera.
Only one more sleep until Toronto’s all night art event Nuit Blanche! Despite the unfortunate corporatization of this event over the years, I still get giddy seeing the city transformed into an open art forum for one crazy night. Mobs of art-hungry citizens fill the streets, exploring unknown alleys, basement and other crannies that otherwise go unnoticed. The fact that it happens until 5 in the morning adds to the carnivalesque surrealness of it all. This is the first year that I will be taking part in the festivities and I am SO HAPPY about it. Here’s what’s up:
I’m starting the night right in the East end of town. My pal Stefan Berg has curated an awesome pop-up show of over 25 artists at a warehouse space at 138 Main Street (at Gerrard). The Closing Reception is from 7 to 9pm (RSVP: firstname.lastname@example.org to add your name on the guest list) and will feature local live music (There is also an open house during the day from 11 to 3, also with music). I made my biggest linocut ever for this show: 18×24″ block. There were definitely some difficult moments (tears) but I’m really happy with the final result. I got to play a lot with pattern and movement (and narrative as usual). Here’s a little detail:
As the night moves on, I’ll be taking part in Redhead Gallery’s Insomnia (Redux) event. Redhead has asked members of the public to contribute a two-dimensional something (old photo, painting, magazine page, found image, whatever)($25 submission fee required) that will be hung in the gallery during NB and remixed by the participating artists. I’m collecting some really great collage materials to bring with me! The contributor of the original piece will have the option to keep the new, remixed work of art or have it sold and collect the profit$. I will be collaging and drawing it up from 10-11pm (and maybe longer) if you want to see me at work. Redhead Gallery is located in Suite 115 on the ground floor of 401 Richmond. There will be plenty going on at 401 so be sure to make it a part of your Nuit Blanche circuit!
After some exploring of my own, I will be heading over to the Gladstone Hotel for the Madeline Colelctive’s 12 Hr. Zine Machine event. Between 2-3am, I will be working my buns off with Aviva, Jess and Melody from Static Zine to produce a zine in one hour based on ideas contributed by the audience.
Here’s the cover I drew for our zine! (We were asked to make in advance/No, I don’t have a time machine)
I love that both of these events require spur of the moment inspiration and the involvement of the audience. To me, the whole point of Nuit Blanche is to provide opportunities for interaction between “artists” and “non-artists” (false dichotomy, everyone is an artist). I wish there was more hands-on involvement from the audience, but seeing as how the audience of this event has grown to fantastical proportions, I can see how, from an organizer’s standpoint, it makes sense to limit the pool of contributors.
Whatever criticism might be lobbed against this event, I still remember the magic of my first year and it seems every year, wether I’ve scour the city til the wee hours of morning or limit my explorations to 1 hour in 3 square blocks, I experience something that inspires me for years to come. Here’s one of my favourite memories from of this event.
A beautiful installation where audience members activated the sculture by placing any music playing device (mp3 players and music-playing phones) over the small silver discs at the edge of the podium (seen in the bottom right corner of the image below) and the sound was amplified and played out of one of the trumpet-like protrusions. The magic of this piece was how interactive it was and how each person could bring their own personal meaning to it (by contributing music that was personally significant to them) and how these meanings combined to form something else. It was interactive, but a lot more personally interactive than many interactive installations I’ve seen at Nuit Blanche of the “walk by a sensor and the light show will change” variety. I played some Leonard Cohen and Edith Piaf’s “Non Je Ne Regrette Rien”, which was chilling projected loud and warbled across the CAMH grounds.
Image courtesy of Everyspoon‘s flickr
Newsflash! Tomorrow, from 11am-6pm, I will be taking part in The Word on the Street Festival in Toronto. I’ll be joining comics pals Ethan Rilly and Jason Kieffer at table FB6 in the Fringe Beats section (south of Wellesely on Queen’s Park Crescent). Ethan launched his latest issue of Pope Hats this week at the Central; be sure to pick up a copy! If that isn’t enough of a draw for you, King David Suzuki and John Raulston Saul will be there as well! Geeking out over Canadian intellectuals! What better way to spend a lazy Sunday??
This weekend is Zine Dream 5 in Toronto! Zine Dream is an awesome event that has been put together for the past 5 years by my pal Jesjit Gill (the same genius who printed Boom Boom Boom at his Colour Code print shop).
Each year this event gets bigger and better. There was a really great friendly vibe to the fest last year and I especially loved the standup comediennes. This year will feature more DJs, more musical acts and, for the first time, will include satellite events: a launch party at Art Metropole tonight and a workshop and panel discussion at XPACE on Saturday.
Come out, listen to some tunes, make new friends and buy some zines. Smiles are free.
I’m back from Alaskaland and ready to share some news with you!
For the month of August, I will have some prints from my books on display as part of an excellent printmaking exhibition called Cut.Ink.Press. There’s a great group of artists involved so if you’re in Toronto, make sure to check it out. The show will be at Jetfuel Coffee, 519 Parliament St, from August 2nd to 31st. The opening is tomorrow, August 2nd, at 9pm. Come out for a beer or a snack or just to eyeball some fine prints (if the first two are not motivation enough). I will also have some copies of Back + Forth and Boom Boom Boom available for sale during the exhibition.
In other news, Kate from the Porcupine’s Quill did a wonderful review of Back + Forth and my pal Megan’s book Wanderlust on the PQL blog. I really enjoyed reading her interpretation and I hope you will too! Leave a comment on her post and you have a chance to win a copy of one of the books! Sweet!
Suggested reading of the day: Shameless Magazine’s Money Issue!!
If you’ve never heard of it, Shameless is a fabulous feminist publication for girls and trans youth. I started reading it a number of years ago when I discovered it at the public library and I am so honoured to be a contributor for their latest issue!
My piece Art/Work consists of two pages of comics addressing the relationship of artists and money. It discusses conflicting feelings about money you may encounter as an artist and contains useful resources and information for anyone practicing art or hoping to get into art-making in a major (or minor) way. I also got to make a pull-out poster, which was extremely fun. I decided to do a paper cut for the poster. I have loved paper cut for a long time but had never found the incentive to try it before. Here’s a peek at the results:
I will definitely be using this technique again in the future. Though it was quite painstaking and occasionally frustrating, I am really happy with the results. There is a really interesting physical quality to a cut image that you just can’t get from drawing or painting. Relief printing, such as linocut, has a similar quality. Maybe part of the reason I found the paper cut process to be less frustrating than I expected is that even when you accidentally cut off a polar bear’s toe, you can do masking tape surgery on the back of the paper and no one’s the wiser; When you’re carving a linocut and you accidentally carve a piece you shouldn’t have, well…
A little update from my studio:
- I’m still in the process of binding books. Who would have thought that binding 200 books by hand would take a long time? Ha! I have completed almost 40 books, have another 10 close to done and another 150 to go after that. Last night I finished collating all the books!!! Collating means putting the pages in order. Maybe it doesn’t sound like much, but it’s a dull process which requires a lot of space to lay out all the pages and a lot of time to put them all together. I also made headway on trimming the text blocks (the term for the stack of pages before they are bound). Only 130 blocks left to trim. Ha! It sounds like a lot, but with the beautiful ancient paper trimmer at my studio, it should only take a couple hours of work.
- I’m still eating great snacks! This is a picture from last week. I neglected to photograph last night’s snack repertoire, which consisted of salt and pepper chips, salt and vinegar chips and dark chocolate with hazelnuts. Yes, two kinds of chips. I had a lot of work to do!
- At the end of this week, I am leaving for Alaska for a month!! This means that production of books will slow down a bit (meaning they won’t be available online for at least another 6 weeks) but hopefully creative production overall will increase by a million. I’m so excited to hike, kayak, see special people and NOT WORK 40hrs/week!! Wooooo!!!!
- I spent some time updating my website. Hope you like it! There’s some new content in the Comics, Drawings and Books sections. Check ‘er out!
Here is a little look at a copy of Boom Boom Boom. I sold out of the copies I had ready for TCAF but there are many left to bind. I’m going to have busy hands for the next few weeks!
Japanese Stab Binding with a hinged hardcover
Title and endpages
An image from my story Wild Seed
Back cover 🙂
Meanwhile, in the studio…
Studio work is always made happier with a robust selection of snacks!
TCAF is only a few days away and I am hustling to prepare my latest project for the viewing (and purchasing) pleasure of Toronto’s comic-loving masses. Here’s a preview of what is to come:
Boom Boom Boom is an anthology of woodcut and linocut stories about SEX. The artists involved are Stefan Berg, Dmitry Bondarenko, Colin Rogers, Megan Speers, Rihkee Strap, George Walker and myself. I am also the editor and bookbinder of the anthology. The book was printed on the risograph by Colour Code Printing. I am so happy with the results! It has been such a pleasure watching this book come together. I can’t wait to see it completed and in the hands of readers!
The Toronto Comic Arts Festival is this weekend at the Reference Library and is totally free to attend. Come visit me on the second floor at booth 258!