Amy Ruppel: This Land Is Your Land

Released Tuesday, January 26, 2010

This Land Is Your Land, by Amy Ruppel.
15% of the gross sale of this print goes to American Forests.

Amy Ruppel is a Midwestern transplant to the Pacific Northwest. She graduated from UW-Milwaukee with a degree in Printmaking-Lithography, but soon fell in love with Adobe Illustrator. She has been using the program since the day it came into the world, and was hooked immediately. Amy has always been a fan of design and illustration, and has allowed her path to follow those desires – down a vector path!

Amy lives in Portland, OR, and has been her own boss since 2000. She has been lucky to work on interesting projects with some great clients – Target, Converse, and Klutz, to name a few. In addition to the client work, she loves pursuing her own thing, continuing to make art and holding a monthly online sale on her website, which helps to keep that passion alive. She often works with wax painting, which she discovered a few years ago in an encaustic class. The medium allows for a marriage between her digital work and her desire to create with her hands.

About the print:
A while ago, I made a similar print with trees in the shape of Oregon, my home state. The print was inspired by a hike I’d recently been on, where I was appreciating all of the tall pine trees. Making that print felt like a good way to express my appreciation for them. When I was perusing the list of charities on The Working Proof, American Forests came up, and the idea for This Land Is Your Land popped into my head instantly. This time, I added a heart, because our nation’s forests are incredible.


The inspirational "Home" print.

What has inspired you recently?
The craft movement has been immense. Brings me back to my days of loving Scandinavian and mid-century pottery and textiles. The internet has been an amazing tool for discovery and exploration into what is being made currently.

You studied lithography in college, but became interested in digital illustration shortly thereafter. How does working in one medium verses the other affect the way that you think about or approach your work? Do you ever use lithography in your work now?
I wish I used lithography in my work now. But it's never too late, right? I certainly don't get the same effect on the computer as a nice chunk of limestone would give me. I think that drawing digitally leads to such clean lines and perfect, flat color, that I push those extremes with the medium. And when I use another medium, be it painting with acrylics, or drawing with charcoal or pencil, the tooth of the surface and looseness of line get all the freedom they deserve. Each medium has it's own qualities, and I let the medium control the look of the image. If I make a mistake when I'm drawing, though, my left hand automatically makes the "keystroke motion" for undo! I need an eraser that says "UNDO".

Why did you choose to pair American Forests with your print?
I love trees. I grew up in the woods. I need to escape to and hike in the forests here often, to get myself back to nature. It is inspiring to no end.

How have you seen art transform the world around you?
I see more and more people pulling their imagery from nature and animals, and I love that it is seen as art. The real thing is art.

If you could pick one artist to mentor you, who would it be?
I loved the landscapes of Milton Avery. He simplified nature into pure swaths of color.

Who are some artists that other people should know about?
Oh, there are so many: Lizzy Stewart, Maxwell Holyoke-Hirsch, Lisa Congdon, Lisa DeJohn, Trish Grantham, Frank Chimero, Michael Paulus, Jon Klassen, Marci Washington, Scarlett Hooft Graafland... I could go on forever. When I find an artist on the web that I love, I pull their site bookmark into a folder called "artists I adore". That folder keeps growing every day.

What are you looking forward to in 2010?
2010! I'm so glad you're here. I have a project that I just completed with Hewlett Packard that makes me proud, and will be launching in early May, worldwide! I'm also designing a special piece for Schoolhouse Electric, based here in Portland. I hope to start taking on more illustration projects this year. I have the most fun when I'm working with (and for) others. Painting-wise, I'm going to be pushing my acrylics usage and will see if I can come up with another series, like the "Mean Birds" or "Bovids" pieces I made last year. I'm looking forward to new ventures each and every day. Bring it!

Erik Otto: Gathering

Released Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Gathering, by Erik Otto.
15% of the gross sale of this print goes to Architecture for Humanity.

Erik Otto is an illustrator, painter, and graphic designer living in San Francisco. Erik is interested in the past, but excited for the future. When he is not creating, he is either riding his bike or relaxing with his girlfriend, while thinking about the next thing he plans to make. When Erik is creating, he throws himself into the process, working quickly, and making the most of whatever he has at hand at the time.

Working as an artist is always challenging, but Erik gets by doing a little bit of everything. He is a graphic designer for VESL Studios and co-runs an art-driven product line, New Leaf Collection. Erik finds inspiration everywhere, but the underlying theme in his work is about a quest to be connected to a deeper source, as well as the struggle to maintain that connection in such a disconnected world.

The making of the print.

About the print:
This piece is called Gathering. It is inspired by the idea of a collective consciousness reaching for the same source.

This is a special edition - there are only 25 prints, and each is printed on an up-cycled record sleeve that Erik used as the canvas for his print. Each print in the edition is made by hand with a combination of house paint, spray paint and screenprinting. Due to the handmade nature of Erik’s process, there are slight variations among the prints, making each one one-of-a-kind.


What has inspired you recently?
The rise and fall of our economy. Re-usability. Human potential.

Certain graphic elements run throughout your work - houses, triangulated mountain shapes, currents...What do those elements mean to you, and how do they tie in to what you mentioned as the underlying theme of your work - "the quest to be connected to a deeper source, as well as the struggle to maintain that connection in such a disconnected world"?
My work is a narrative told by the recurring characters/elements I use often in my artwork. The house is a physical embodiment of our spiritual being. Inspired by the notion that being home is "knowing" - knowing your mind, knowing your heart - that if we know ourselves, we are always "home", anywhere. It is often depicted in chaotic landscapes and is found seeking safety from a storm and/or rising water levels, which refer to our current social and economic climate. The iceberg shapes represent a failing world.

Why did you choose to pair Architecture for Humanity with your print?
After living on 6th Street in San Francisco for over a year - which is one of the most run down streets in the downtown area and is infested with drug addiction - I have a new level of compassion for those without a home. Every day I would meet people who hit rock bottom, but for whatever reason could not get out. It's crazy how we live in the richest nation in the world, yet so many of those people lacked basic human needs and wound up turning to drugs as their only way to cope with their loneliness and depression. I am no longer in that environment but I find myself looking back at it as an example of a larger problem that lies under the surface all over the world.

How have you seen art transform the world around you?
I see art, if done correctly, as a way to break boundaries and create community where there is none. It can be used as an instrumental vehicle to provoke thought, inspire change, and get people to see themselves in a different light. I often get emails about how my artwork has empowered others in one way or another. I am a firm believer that one person can make a difference. Every thing we put out there creates a ripple effect, and whether you are trying to build or destroy, we are all influencing one another.

Tell me a little bit about your New Leaf Collection - described as "artsy t-shirts and collectible goods inspired by the idea of giving back". What does that mean for the company? How do ideas of social responsibility/giving back factor into your own personal work?
New Leaf Collection is a product line I started five years ago as a means of creating an additional and more affordable platform to what I do. In the beginning it was mostly shirts that I would sell at my art openings, but more recently we have moved into lifestyle products (think bags, pillows, notebooks, etc.). We donate 10% of each product sale to the charity it was inspired by. I feel that if I am going to start a company, it has to be a company that has good ethics. Using recycled materials, coming up with more eco-friendly solutions, and creating awareness of bigger issues is the end goal for New Leaf. As you may know, this route is no easy feat and you just have to take it step by step and never lose sight of the big picture.

If you could pick one artist to mentor you, who would it be?
Most definitely Robert Rauschenberg. He was the first American artist to be known for creating artwork out of everyday materials and coined the term "assemblage". His artwork influenced the birth of Pop Art and I would say is a big influence to the Lowbrow movement of today. He was one of the first people to make art that the average person could relate to. Up until then, art was only appreciated by a small "elite" few. In his later years, he almost entirely financed his own organization, ROCI, which was created as a way to promote world peace and understanding through the production of art.

Who are some artists that other people should know about?
The ones that inspire me most...Tom Sachs, Barry Mcgee, Thomas Campbell, Dave Ellis, Pae White, Herakut, Barron Storey, Anthony Lister, Jeff Soto, Blaine Fontana, Andy Goldsworthy, and Ryan McGinness.

What are you excited about in 2010?
Traveling and a brighter future for New Leaf Collection.

Julianna Swaney: Golden Animals

Released Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Golden Animals, by Julianna Swaney.
15% of the gross sale of this print goes to Puppies Behind Bars.

Julianna Swaney lives and makes art in Portland, OR. She grew up in the wilds of Michigan, playing in the woods behind her house and cultivating a love of animals and bird watching. Her family vacations revolved around bird watching and going to distant places to spot birds with exotic sounding names. Julianna was lucky enough to have an education that also cultivated her imagination. She has always had a love of fairytales and the magic that can be found in the real world - within nature, history, and science. Julianna's work is an exploration of this mingling of the human and the natural.

About the print:
I draw a lot of animals that are mixtures of foxes, wolves, and forest spirits. For this piece I wanted the mountain man to be sitting with large, golden, mysterious animals. They're not exactly his pets, but they are on friendly terms - for now. Also, they might walk on their hind legs at night.

Golden Animals is an inkjet print on creme-colored acid free Stonehenge paper, with 100% cotton fibers.


What has inspired you recently?
I’ve been looking a lot at the online gallery archives of the New York Public Library.

What influences your work? Your art has been described as being from another era. Do you agree or disagree with this?
I would have to agree, I’m very inspired by old prints, illustrations, and ephemera like postcards. I have nostalgia for a time when people wore hats.

You tend to use a fairly limited palette. How does color factor into your drawings?
I guess it’s personal preference. I’m usually attracted to artworks that use limited color or monochrome, so that’s what I do in my own work. I think a clean, simpler color works best for my style of drawing.

Why did you choose to pair Puppies Behind Bars with your print?
I heard something about them on NPR and found it very moving and inspiring. I like the fact that Puppies Behind Bars is helping several groups of people at the same time.

How have you seen art transform the world around you?
That seems like such a huge question - I never know how to answer those types of things. I just know that making art is what makes me happy - and people around me happy - and I’m content with that.

If you could pick one artist to mentor you, who would it be?
Maurice Sendak. Every time I read an interview with him, he has such an insightful point of view on art and life - it just makes so much sense. Also, he is the master of getting across huge points with simple images.

Who are some artists that other people should know about?
My friends and roommates Rebecca Urias and Graham Kahler.

What are you excited about in 2010?
Nothing huge. I'm just looking forward to working more and finding new directions. I’m going to be in a few good shows this spring which I'm excited about.

Jacqueline Kari Bos: Aurora

Released Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Aurora, by Jacqueline Kari Bos.
15% of the gross sale of this print goes to Show Hope.

Jacqueline Bos is an illustrator. She grew up in Virginia and moved to the green state of Oregon after graduating from college. She recently made her way back to the east coast, where she calls Brooklyn home, for the time being. Jackie loves drawing, painting and reading, and finds that illustration is a nice hybrid of her interests. In her work Jackie explores the use of collaged elements alongside hand-drawn details and patterns. She is on an eternal search for new sources of inspiration and keeps a box full of paper scraps for future projects. She's been a practicing printmaker for about 5 years, working primarily with screen printing and monotype, but she also learned how to do paper lithography a while back.

Jackie spends most of her time working from her cotton candy pink desk with her super fat cat, Zooey Papaya, napping in her lap.

Process sketches

About the print:
I recently released an illustrated mini-book called "I Heart the Arctic". The imagery I used for this print came from sketches and drawings I did in the process of making the book.

Aurora is a two-color screen print in white and copper ink, printed onto 250gms gray 100% cotton, acid-free paper. I watercolored the aurora borealis on each print by hand (a la a monotype), making each print one of a kind.



What has inspired you recently?
I checked out a bunch of books on textile design from the library recently, and am floored by the knitwear designs, with all of the intricate patterns and textures. I think that exploring all of the related design industries can be an endless source of inspiration. I'm particularly drawn to textile, fashion, and graphic design.

Why did you choose to pair Show Hope with your print?
I lost a parent to cancer recently, and I can’t even imagine what it would be like to be orphaned as a child. Show Hope helps orphaned children have a family life, and makes sure that the cost of adoption is not a reason that they don't have homes. My heart goes out to all of these children, and I would love for my print to make a difference for this organization.


How have you seen art transform the world around you?
I think recently there has been a huge influx of art exposure through blogs, which is great, as I get to see so much more work than I would normally be exposed to. It seems art is no longer only validated by being in a gallery, hung properly on white walls. There is more of a niche following for artists through online exposure. Art is more widespread.


If you could pick one artist to mentor you, who would it be?
Miranda July, because she’s awesome and has the most moving, cross disciplinary installations - spanning written, installation, and visual arts. I think we’d have a good time.

Who are some artists that other people should know about?
So many! Here’s a short list: Kristen Schiele, Annette Messager, Daniel Egneus, E.V.Day, and Michael Cutlip,