A Continuing Education

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Inexplicable print boosterism seen during a visit to KU in Lawrence.

Seven years ago I was approached by R.L. Tillman and Jason Urban with a screwball idea: that we should start an art blog about printmaking. At the time I thought, these people must have lost their minds! Not because the idea was ludicrous, far from it. But it was no secret to them that I was a slow, dyslexic writer. My own artist’s statement constituted the entirety of my critical writing repertoire. And I didn’t even spend that much time online. But I have always had a weakness for doing things (as opposed to not doing things) and it sounded like fun. So, we constituted the novice editorial team for what would become ‘The thinking person’s favorite resource for interesting print miscellany’.

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Shop signage seen at Deb Chaney Editions during a printshop tour.

Our modest aspirations did not prepare us for the size of the community who wanted to participate in the conversation we had started. With the dedicated help of over a dozen regular volunteer contributors and many times that number of occasional ‘Friend of Printeresting’ writers, we were able to keep pace with our rapidly growing community. And through the generous help of our supporters, including, advertisers, academic and arts institutions, and the amazing, validating Creative Capital/Warhol Foundation award, we built a robust, thriving space for this conversation.

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An image from our Ephemeral Sprawl exhibition at the Print Center in Philadelphia.

While our project began as a blogging enterprise, our methods have more closely resembled that of a conversation than traditional reportage. Like a conversation, our approach has always been casual, respectful, and open to the exchange of ideas. Our call, from the 2000+ posts was met by a response from well over 4000 comments, authored by an incredibly diverse array of readers from around the world. Many of our best posts originated as tips sent to us by our readers. And in turn, we redesigned the site, making it easier for even a casual reader to submit a post. For much of its life, this blog has been nurtured in a symbiotic system, with ideas and support being freely exchanged between writer and reader.

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Strange product claiming to utilize etching for fun.

My participation in this project has at times required ridiculous amounts of my attention, and in return it has provided a novel kind of education. I have learned a tremendous amount about print, design, technology, art history, visual culture, curating, producing, and yes, blogging and arts writing. But many of the most important things I’ve learned have been asymmetrical to our content. Those lessons have been on topics like the contagious nature of generosity, or the right way to ask a serious person to help do something preposterous. I am very grateful for this opportunity and deeply thankful for our community of supporters and everyone who helped this project get this far.

IMG_5281Screen printed counterfeit currency spotted on campus last fall.

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A photograph of a photocopy of a photocopy of a
photocopy collage seen on the wall of my ophthalmologist’s office wall.

In closing I want to say that I am bursting with excitement (and, if I were to be completely honest, a bit too much ice cream) about the future. As with all things, Printeresting the blog is ending, but Printeresting the cultural producer is just getting started. And since I am notoriously bad at keeping surprises secret, I will sign off here.

The education continues.

printeresting gag fileAn unconfirmed surveillance photograph of the first Printeresting retreat in Philadelphia, circa 2010.

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Categories: Critical Discourse, Printeresting


One Response to “A Continuing Education”

  1. When Robert was a student of mine at GWU, being old school, I was a little worried that Robert’s ideas were a bit strange, but, it seems he was right on the money…is there any money involved here? I love the site and refer to it often.

    Check out Robert Nelson, he’s ninety and lives and still works in Oregon.