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Thursday, June 6, 2013

First Friday: Printmaker Extrodinaire Scott Steere

Love this detail

Our third installment of First Friday happens to be another fantastic male artist. Appropriate for our manly month; however I am surprised at the type of work I have shared with you all. Maybe this is a little self-discovery for myself. I am a girl who loves flowers, Victorian homes, rustic French homeware, dresses more than pants...I mean...I am a girl. But, again this month I am enjoying the somewhat raw and slightly shocking art of Mr. Scott Steere. Maybe this is good for all parties involved. Maybe all you other girly girls out there need to be shaken up a little this month. Scott is in a fantastically exciting position in his career; after a bit of wandering he has found a place he wants to live in the art world and is creating work that even the girliest of girls can enjoy. 

Have fun learning a little more about Mr. Steere and his art. Check out his website too! He has a pretty sweet logo. You must check it out. 

AM: From the looks of your website it seems as though you can just about do it there a particular medium or process you enjoy most?
SS: I have a background in both fine art and graphic design, and for the last year I have been trying to combine those two processes in my art. To that end I am using a variety of techniques like screen printing, woodcut, intaglio and cut paper. I guess I like having the freedom to use whatever feels natural.


AM: I know you are a big fan of Hatch Show Print...the iconic letterpress that something you want to do more of one day?
SS: Letterpress has been an obsession of mine ever since the first time I visited Hatch. Letterpress for me is at this unique intersection of history and visual communication. It was at Hatch that I realized design could still be executed by hand rather than solely on a computer, which freed me from sitting behind a computer to create. That realization was really the start to combining my skills as a digital designer with my passion for printmaking. I would love to work exclusively with letterpress some day. Owning a letterpress design shop is my dream job. If I could make a career of designing posters with hundred year old typefaces and original woodcut artwork I would die a happy man. Right now though I am focusing on developing as a screen printer.

AM: Does your work start with graphic design on a computer or hand-drawn sketches?
SS: It depends on the project. Sometimes I get an idea or concept as a glimpse and have to sketch it or write it down. Other times my process is more linear, starting with a shape or a word and morphing it through dozens of steps into something I like. In those cases I work much more quickly and spontaneously in programs like Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop, where I can experiment and drastically change a design without losing previous versions. Often it’s a mix of starting an idea on paper and moving it to my computer, or doing layout digitally and projecting it onto a surface to use as a guide.

AM: Your work seems to be very symmetrical, clean and sometimes involves a pattern...Where does your inspiration come from?
SS: Clean? I get a kick out of that… clean does not come naturally to me. When I was in design school I was constantly butting heads with professors over my gritty aesthetic. I think that over time I have been able to adapt my style to the project or piece. Some of my screen prints like the Dozen Cosmonauts or the Trash Flag are grungy — when you repeatedly use a screen like I did with those pieces, ink builds up in the screen and the image prints differently each time or smudges or bleeds. In those kinds of pieces I welcome those unique marks. Other projects, like the golden frame housing a self-portrait silhouette, require a level of precision and cleanliness of presentation.
I draw inspiration from all over the place. I read a lot of fiction and history, spend far too much time exploring design blogs, and also find inspiration in mundane and prosaic objects. Comic books, album art, WPA era posters, art history, religion, and anything I read or watch or hear also influence me. I took a fantastic class on art since 1945 that influenced a lot of what I have been producing lately. For example, Mark Rothko created these intense paintings of floating clouds of color. He did a black on black series that literally just looks like a blank black canvas. I was drawn to those because of the opportunity it presents for an artist to interact with the viewer. Get up close to the painting. Look at it from a different angle or in a different light. You’ll notice variations and complexities that you hadn't previously seen. With that in mind I started making white on white prints. From a distance it just looks like a blank sheet, but the closer you get and the longer you look at it the image appears. I think that’s an idea I’d like to explore more in the future. I became interested in silhouettes because of the work of Kara Walker, also from that class. After writing a paper on the prevalence and multifaceted interpretations of the Confederate battle flag in the South I created a series of flags out of collected trash.

AM: Do you feel like your southern roots have any influence on the type work you produce?

SS: I definitely feel that my identity as a Southerner has a strong influence on my work. I don’t thematically address Southern culture or identity, but I think like a Southerner and am drawn to certain things based on the way in which I was raised or a particular look I find appealing. I think that right now the South is an exciting place to be — there is a Renaissance happening here. People are expanding their view of the world, and art and music scenes are exploding as a result. I’m thrilled to be a part of it.

AM: Whose work are you into right now?

SS: You mentioned Hatch Show Print… I also follow the work of Old Try letterpress in Boston, Last Leaf Printing in Pueblo Colorado, and The Heads of State screen printing out of Philadelphia.


Scott Steere lives in Asheville North Carolina with his wife Kinsey and two dogs Stonewall and Penny. When not creating or following English football, he collects vinyl records and takes his vintage motorcycle up on the Blue Ridge Parkway. He also enjoys thrifting, spaghetti westerns, and board games.



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