The Printers’ Mark

Joey MacDonald is one of the directors of the Olio Artists & Workers Cooperative, a printmaking cooperative established in 2007. As a graphic designer, Joey found his influence in his passion for screen-printing and music. Watch the video above to see all of the Olio’s facilities and the screen-printing process in action!

Read the full exclusive article below for more insight into the screen-printing process.

Seen Joey in action and want to learn how to do it yourself?
Watch our Introduction to Screen Printing tutorial and get started today!

Materials as shown in this video:
Masking & Double Sided Tape
Straight Edge Ruler
Speedball Screen Printing Ink
Speedball Screen Printing Frame
Speedball Wood Squeegee
Speedball Hinge Clamps
Grafix Clear Acetate
Screen Blockout Medium
Photo Emulsion Kit

Opus: How do you approach the screen-printing process?

Joey: Screen-printing is neat in terms of process because the print process and the design process can compartmentalize from one another. You can start with a design and imagine the process you’ll be going through when you print it and that can form the art that you create. What I seek to do is to have the substrate in mind as I am designing. That way you don’t have to have art that is created verbatim. You can have the art form the design and vice versa.

O: What do you enjoy about the printing process?

J: Screen-printing is a wonderful medium. It can do just about anything because the mechanics of it are incredibly simple. I think it has a way of informing your design not only in the aesthetic it offers but also in the fact that you have to commit to a physically involved process. Wherein a lot of art, your body is stationary and your mind is at work through the body, it’s the other way around with printmaking. You don’t need much equipment but it does help to have some understanding of the equipment you do have. I’ve seen some pretty incredible printmakers who use stuff that I wouldn’t know how to use, like screens they have stretched themselves made of wood that they have had since the 60’s. But they know how to use it and they use it to an amazing end.

O: What is it about screen-printing that draws you to it?

J: It’s the results. Because the results that screen-printing is capable of doing are pretty incredible and unmistakable. It takes a certain amount of commitment and space and a certain amount of resources and savvy. But what you get out of it and the breadth of it isn’t easily matched. It’s perfect and uniform and it’s a very different experience from just about every print medium I have come in contact with. But the aesthetic of screen-printing lends itself to be incredibly graphic and has the capacity to be incredibly bold.

O: What influences your work?

I got into art through music, but it was never really art for the sake of art. I didn’t start painting; I didn’t go to art school. Art has kind of found its way into my life through more human methods and roads. More often than not, it is informed by artists I know which I find is a wonderful way to do it.

O: How does merging your art with other mediums like music, and commercial use influence your work?

J: I think merging forms of art can demystify what art is, and that’s really important. To see fluidity between all arts is incredibly helpful and to know that art is basically just an internal process being externalized. It’s to take something real, something natural that exists and then filter it through a human medium and output it through an artistic medium to produce something that doesn’t necessarily exist. Be it something tangible like a painting or a print or something more sonic like a piece of music. To see that that kind of process is universal is important. Designating individual facets of art is in its own way counter-intuitive.

O: Describe your technique.

J: I don’t have too much of a standard technique. I do graphic design more often than I do art. When I am fully committed to doing visual art, I end up trying to make it as involved and labor intensive as possible. It’s a lot hand drawing stuff – I try to avoid the computer as much as I can in the development of the imagery. With screen-printing, the computer does help to translate the things without too much guesswork, but I try to keep that element as limited and as functional as possible. Keeping [the computer] tool-orientated rather than art-oriented, I quickly get back to hand-done methods like screen-printing.

O: Describe your visual style.

J: As ambiguous and broad as the term may be, my style is graphic. Strictly because being a graphic designer, a printmaker, you do have to adopt different styles. You have to be a bit of a chameleon. Where a painter has the ability to commit to a certain style and have that style evolve, a printmaker and graphic designer has to have the ability to change pretty fluidly. I do find I do as much pen and ink work as I can. So a lot of my work is illustrative.

O: What is the Olio Cooperative?

J: The Olio Artist and Workers Cooperative is a pretty open format. It’s a place full of stuff where people can come and do things. There are lots of facilities here, like screen printing equipments, for an artist to be able to realize a vision or a process. The whole reason for this space and equipment is so artists have an increased capacity to delve into different mediums of art that can sometimes be prohibited because they require space and the equipment. In our case with screen-printing we like the big wash out booth in the back and that’s probably the most important piece of equipment that we have. Without one it will be messy.

O: What is your favorite part of being a part of the Olio?

J: Meeting people. Being useful to people has been fantastic. It’s incredibly easy to become insulated doing art. In fact there is a component of insulation in doing art, especially when doing art intensely. There is a nature of being divorced from other people: even people that you know well and people for whom your art would benefit from knowing and working with. Often it’s just a fiercely solo kind of practice. So being here and seeing other people working, being able to help them work and indirectly having their work help mine is refreshing. The way I can learn from them is the best and easiest thing that I have access to here.

O: How do you connect with artists and spread awareness for the Olio?

J: As a non-profit co-op we get to appeal to people with an idea, and I think that is a good way to do it. We get to illustrate our benefits to people and more often than not, we get to do it personally. We try and curate shows that illustrate what the studio is capable of and the people that typically use it. That in itself becomes a good way of very literally illustrating what the studio does and what it is capable of. We also do a thing called skill series, where we invite artists that we may or may not know to work in the studio. They get to use it for free, take one of the screen-printing classes and basically take their art and see if screen-printing is a match for it. With a printmaking co-op, it’s interesting because you have what you produce and the people who produced it in the same place. Both of those can become evidence to other people of what is possible.

O: What do artists have to do to become a member of the Olio?

J: They don’t even need to ask. You can become a member through the website. You pay 30 dollars a year and you pay 5 dollars an hour for the time you are in the studio. Any consumables likes screen, films, inks are $5. We do get a lot of artists that just strictly want to do silkscreen. It’s mainly word of mouth that people end up hearing about us, which is a good way for it to be.

Visit Olio Artists and Workers Cooperative for full information on rates, studio hours, and more!