My Work at Milkshake; the Exhibition

Two weeks ago there was the opening of the long awaited exhibition, MILKSHAKE, in which several artists exhibited works that discussed topics such as the queer body, gender and sexuality. It is a very sensitive subject which is very easily one of the biggest taboos in Malta, partly due to the conservative catholic influence on the island. However, it was for this very reason that there was a need to have this publicly discussed.

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I am very glad to have taken part in this show, and for the first time I exhibited serigraphy (silk screen) prints. It is a set of 8 different prints, which all are tied to past experiences relating to my own sexuality. They are one of the most intimate body of work I have ever made, both because of content, and also because of the images.

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The development of this body of work was a long one, about ten months to be exact. However it was this process which led me to a much better understanding of the subject, thus enabling me to produce this work. It was important for me that the work would not reflect the subject from the outside in, but rather from the inside out. I did not want to give my thoughts on the topic, but rather how it affects me and my life. I felt it was better to record my experiences by working with my partner and record our experiences which although not experienced together, both of us can relate to.

After coming up with a lengthy piece of writing, I selected particular phrases and started building images around them. This allowed the pieces to evolve into an intimate record of both our experiences.

MILKSHAKE: The Exhibition at St. James Cavalier is opened until 1st of April 2013

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Layering ink, a Passion for Printing

Sometimes there are things which make us dream, make us wonder how far they would take us and the new possibilities they would open. I used to have this feeling about silk screen printing for many years, however after failing to find supplies and tutors in Malta I decided to let it go. That is until last May, when I decided to jump in and spend (the only money I had) on screen printing equipment.

I have been long interested in the technique. I was always fascinated by the method of producing photographic prints, mainly as the process was always so clouded in mystery to me. This printing technique also allows the use of block colours, sharp lines, and layering. It was the exact aesthetic I am interested in, so this attraction towards the process was very natural.

After contacting several art shops in Malta, I concluded that no one really imports silk screen material, at least not for commercial sales. I was left with the only option of ordering from abroad, facing extraordinary shipping costs. However it was all worth it, as it provided me with not just a new medium, but a new way to make my work, and a new way to think.

The design printed on a transparent film, part of the preparation for making the stencil.

The design printed on a transparent film, part of the preparation for making the stencil

Silk screen is a printing process which makes use of a prepared ink blocking mesh, while forcing ink through the stencil using a squeegee. It allows for various colours in a single image by the use of multiple screens. Nowadays it is industrially replaced by digital printing, however it is still used for printing on T-shirts, especially those which are custom made. However my interest in the process lies solely as an art form and book making.

The origins of silk screen lie back in the Chinese Song Dynasty, but the process used today was developed in the Europe over the 20th century. It was made popular as an art form by several artists including Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein.

I decided to make a design which represents this blog by taking several elements from various past posts, and also adding some from my own imagination.

After printing the black part

After printing the black part

Printing the blue
Printing the blue

Mixing the red

Mixing the red

The finished print

The finished print

Protect your Art career

In one of my online rants ‘So you want a creative career’ I had brushed on the idea that most people do not want to pay for art because they think of it as something that we do for a hobby. Others don’t want to pay, well because they can; because they find people who will do it for free. Today I found a video by Stephen Silver a freelance character designer in the animation industry that I highly respect. In the video he speaks specifically about this issue, where he urges artists to not work for free because rather that giving you exposure, it is more likely to destroy your career. Artists who are just starting out can easily make the mistake of doing work for free because it will give them ‘exposure’. Trust me this exposure is so not worth it.

Working for free destroys the artistic industry, so when you work for free you are not just damaging yourself, but you are damaging everybody else. Some art / design students make the mistake of working for free whilst they are studying, so they can get a college portfolio & a work portfolio. What happens when the student becomes a professional? The same companies will be working with NEW students who are working for free rather than paying the student who can now create professional work. Therefore not only are professional artists suffering and getting payed less because others are working for free, but the general industry is using work that is not up to standard because it is not paying for it.

Here are some character design tips by Stephen Silver, followed by his advice on how to ‘Protect your Art career.’

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Here’s another related video that you might enjoy:

2011/03 Mike Monteiro | F*ck You. Pay Me. from San Francisco Creative Mornings on Vimeo.