while i do enjoy art and printmaking, i don’t pretend to be a fine artist or a printmaker. i have dabbled. yes. but first and foremost i am a designer. maybe even a typographer. i try.

when i do venture into the murky area of the fine arts, my chosen murk is usually printmaking. relief printmaking. linoblocks. woodblocks. solid, unvarying stuff. we at the press like these things.

last saturday i was shifting some stuff around to make room for other stuff (always stuff). i was in the process of shifting five 8×8″ woodblocks that i had cut previously for another project. i was going to move them out to the printshop so i could look at them for a while and see if i could think of anything to do with them.

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in a nonce it came to me. of course. i would make a five-colour print of singer/songwriter peter case entitled peter case surveys a broken america and tries to heal it through song. it was just like that — all at once. i think the peter case idea came from the fact that he is going to be performing in nearby hamilton, ontario next week. i have seen mr case many times before and have always been highly entertained. it’s like he gets right into what i’m about musically and lyrically. he is rather good at playing the guitar!

i purchased his second solo album, the man with the blue post-modern fragmented neo-traditionalist guitar, just before going out to halifax to attend the college of art and design. i listened to that album over and over while working in the studio. i think in some ways i associate design work with peter case’s music. it seems intertwined.

his newer stuff is more folky and bluesy and i think it works well with letterpress. at his last hamilton show a couple of years ago i had a chance to talk to him. i stutteringly told him that i was a fan. i think i gave him a copy of a book of poetry that i had printed and it turns out that he had done some printing in school. he knew about the process of setting type and using the presses, so that was sorta cool.

as soon as the title popped into my head, i grabbed a chunk of paper and started sketching. the pencil was a 4H and held its point really well, so i was able to sketch on type of the type cabinet (where i usually do my bookbinding) for a long time. when it started to get close to suppertime, i moved inside. this is what it looked like.

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the drawing worked (to me) pretty well. i liked it. and, since i was the dude who was doing the printing, my opinion mattered a lot.

i used some tracing paper to do the ‘colour separations’. to see if the whole thing was going to hang together as a multicoloured print.

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i scanned all five pieces into the computer and took them into illustrator to check to see if the colours (more like tonal values) were going to work. i actually live traced the pen outlines i had generated to make it easier on myself. a woodblock wonderfully changes as it’s created and the hand of the cutter gets involved. after some tinkering, this is what it looked like.

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the colours will change when i put it on press (i’m colourblind) but i like the texture and tones that are working here without actually being in love with the colours themselves. it’s a process and i have learned to trust the process.

i’m not sure if i will have it ready to show mr case next week, but it’s a nice little digression to honour someone who has given me so many wonderful hours of listening.

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