Today, my friend "Brother James" came over and we printed some shirts. We've both been interested in comic art since childhood and it continues to be a strong shared interest of ours. Something we like to do when we get together is discuss how to take comic-art to another level or put a new spin on something that's been around for years. This could manifest itself in making a painting from a printed comic-book image, or using a watercolor image as source material for a pastel drawing. In this case I adapted an image printed commercially onto a shirt (that I found online) for the silk-screen printing I'm set up for, which is very basic.
Screen-printing is a fun and fast paced process, filled with unknowns, which makes for an exciting time. Its hard to know for instance if ink is building up somewhere you can't see, ready to blob out and surprise you with a mark you didn't intend. It was nice to have James around as my extra set of hands; I would pull the squeegee and lift the screen, and he would set the prints aside and hold the screen for each print. He and I hadn't really worked in tandem like that on a common task and at that pace since we worked at the Mad Batter together years ago. During that time I learned more about cooking from James than I did in most of my other food-service experience. I was also reminded today of the rhythms of work and how they work themselves out during the experience. Its easy enough to start a task with a grand design in mind, but when the rubber hits the screen and the ink's-a-slidin', the process quickly lets you know how its going to be. Jumping into the process shows you were mistaken in your first impression and that you must adapt to the pressure of the situation. In this case the ink was flowing and drying, so we couldn't stop and have a long conversation about how to best navigate the process. We had to be flexible and know how to read each other in the moment, not an easy task, but made easier by working with a great friend who knows you well.
As an artist, its rewarding to share methods and techniques with other artists (James included). By doing this sort of activity together with a friend I am hopefully opening up expressive avenues to someone who might not have utilized a particular medium before. One of the great things about being in friendship or community with others is the chance to share experiences, skills and life in general, resulting in all parties involved living in a more fulfilling way. When I find things that enliven and enrich me, I want to share them with the important people in my life. Today was no exception.
J0hn Hunter Speier
Recent work, and explorations of techniques, aesthetics and poetics.