World Printmakers’ Print Workshop Central

Online resources for fine-art printmaking workshops

Ink Shop Printmaking Center, Ithaca, NY, USA

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The Ink Shop Printmaking Center & Olive Branch PressMore content coming soon. Watch this space.

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Interview with Pamela Drix of The Ink Shop
Printmaking Center
& Olive Branch Press

Q: Could you tell us a bit about the origins of the Ink Shop?
A: The Ink Shop started in 1999 with four printmakers Christa Wolf, Miri Amihai, Pamela Drix, and Greg Page.  We became a 501C3 non-profit in 2001.  We are guided by four main principles:

  1. providing a community-based resource for learning about printmaking and bookmaking
  2. mentoring young artists to develop their skills as creative artists (provided by our workshop, exhibition, and internship and Fellowship programs)
  3. providing a venue to showcase contemporary printmakers and bookmakers
  4. providing a mechanism through the Olive Branch Press to collaborate with professional artists in producing museum-quality prints and artist books.

Q: Your website distinguishes between “printmaker associates” and “artist associates.” Why that distinction? What’s the difference?
A: Printmaker Associates are “keyholders” and must submit a portfolio to be accepted. Printmaker Associates have 24/7 access to the studio and are given preferred selection for exhibition opportunities. Artist Associates are not juried in, pay less for their membership, and have studio use only during regular shop hours. Both levels of associates receive 15% discount on workshops.

Q: We couldn’t help but notice that your studio enjoys the financial backing of a large number of donors. A lot of people reading this interview would be interested in knowing how you achieved that. Could you tell us a little bit about your program in this respect?
A: Over the years we have cultivated relationships with individuals who have either taken our workshops, come to our exhibition openings, attended gallery talks, or have worked with us on publication projects.  We also send out fundraising letters twice a year, and have special fundraising events at least once a year.

Q: You mention joint projects with other print studios at home and abroad. How long have you been doing this? How does it work? What do you perceive as the benefits? Has it networked and grown over the years?
A: Our first “project” with other studios involved four print studios in Ireland who exhibited here.  We coordinated the exhibit, and hosted two of the artists as well. We fundraised for an artist-in-residency for Cliona Harmey, a printmaker/digital artist who spent 10 weeks with us. Beyond that we did an exchange exhibit with the Washington DC Printmakers, each group hosting an exhibition of the other studio’s prints. Each studio paid for their advertising and receptions costs.  We were also invited to exhibit at Open Studio in Toronto.  All these events were successful. We were able to pay for them by artist entry fees, sales, and donations.  We also had one juried international show called “Border Crossings” which we advertised at the Southern Graphics Printmaking Conference. We paid the advertising costs by artist entry fees and donations.

Q: The “slide registry for collectors and curators” sounds interesting. Is it online?
A: Eventually we would like this to be on-line.  We are working on our new website, which will include at least three images from each associate, plus all of the Olive Branch Press publications. Right now we have a catalogue of prints in-house for potential collectors to browse through.

Q: Do you get many requests to do contract printing with artists from other media? What kind of feedback do you tend to get from them when the edition is done? Are any of them inspired to get into printmaking on their own?
A: We haven’t gotten too many yet, although we are currently negotiating a potentially large printing of 360 large woodcuts.  We have not been able to pay an in-house master printer, so we have arranged these kinds of projects on a case-by-case basis.  We have not had artists who work in other media do print projects with us because we don’t have the staff to offer it, though we do hope to eventually offer this opportunity.

Q: Let’s talk about the Olive Branch Press. Who publishes prints and artists’ books under this chop? Does the OBP also commercialize the editions? How does this work?
A: So far, our Board and Artist Advisory Board select an artist with whom we wish to work, and we determine a contract that is satisfactory for the artist and OBP.  Details of each contract have been different, but the best arrangement is one where we get subscriptions, before production, to cover all the production costs.  We have had a minimal marketing budget, but have usually sold enough to recover costs.  Completed editions are either split between the two parties, or the artist gets a few prints in the edition to sell on their own, and at least one print is held with us as an archival copy.  Remaining prints in the edition are sold at a 30/70 commission.  The shop usually only takes a 30% commission.  Sometimes an artist sets an increasing scale for pricing the prints in the edition. Each set of 10 prints in the edition increase in price, to encourage buyers to buy the earlier numbers in the edition.

Q: Is there much interest in paper arts, bookbinding and artists’ books? How do the writers respond when they are approached to do a collaborative project? What’s the usual arrangement between artist and writer?
A: We are finding more interest in this regard, although we usually hear from other artists, not writers.  We have done a poetry book with a local poet.  Here we worked out the size of the edition.  With grant money she was able to cover most of the production costs, and the sales covered the rest.  We have only one archival copy left in that edition because the sale price was set very low.

Q: In line with the previous question, do your workshop associates work much with handmade or exotic papers?
A: Some of our associates do work with handmade papers like kozo, akatogashi and others. One of our associates is a papermaker who uses unusual plant materials in her work.  We do on occassion incorporate these papers in chine colle projecxts.

Q: A print studio with its own gallery sounds to us like a luxury for the members. Do they consider it a luxury? Does it do a good job of selling their work.
A: In our new location, we do now have a good arrangement for exhibiting prints.  The members are given the possibility of showing with us at least once a year, and they of course keep work in the print bins and in the drawers.  We try to offer exhibitions that show the breadth and depth of contemporary printmaking and bookmaking arts. Our members do appreciate the opportunities we offer, and we have been fortunate to find other venues to show, including the Johnson Art Museum at Cornell University, and the Opalka Gallery at Russell Sage Colleges. These exhibits provide us great exposure and enhance our reputation in the region.

Q: What percentage of your associates are full-time working artists?
A: Many of our artists have other part-time jobs.  A few of us work at our art full-time.  Many have advanced degrees in art and/or printmaking. I would say about  10%- 15% work at their own art full-time.  We hope to change this percentage as artists find out how they can utilize the facilties and equipment we have here.

Contact:

The Ink Shop Printmaking Center & Olive Branch Press
330 E. State Street, Ithaca NY 14850, USA
2nd floor of the CSMA Building
Tel: (607) 277-3884

Tuesday to Friday 12 pm – 6 pm
Saturday 12pm – 4 pm

Website: http://www.ink-shop.org
Email: artists@ink-shop.org

Written by Michael Booth

October 1, 2008 at 6:07 pm

One Response

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  1. Hello Ink Shop printmakers,

    I recently graduated from Boston University’s College of Fine Arts with a BFA in painting and a concentration in printmaking. I am brand new to the Ithaca area and am looking for both a place to continue making artwork, meet artists, and find work. I have a few inquiries – the first is where can I find good drawing/printmaking paper in Ithaca? The second is can I come and use the Ink Shop presses on a pay per day/hour basis? The third is are there any printers/artists interested in having an assistant? I currently am very flexible. Thanks for your time! Elissa

    Elissa Hine

    February 12, 2010 at 5:39 pm


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