Print Studios across the USA: Alabama - California
At Mesh, we are all about supporting independent graphic artists, wherever they may live. It is important for printmakers to have access to studio space and a community to help foster their practice. We thought we would attempt the monumental task of listing as many community/cooperative print studios in the United States as we could find. We will be publishing this in installments over the next few months, alphabetical by state. Enjoy and please let us know if we missed any by emailing email@example.com!
Alabama doesn’t offer a ton of opportunities to independent printmakers. There are small teaching programs at the University of Montevallo, another at the University of South Alabama in Mobile, and what seem to be slightly more elaborate printmaking programs at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa and one at The University of Alabama in Huntsville. But places where the creative printmaker can get in and make prints, seem to be in short supply. One notable exception resides in Birmingham, where Paperworkers Local is going strong. At writing, membership was a reasonable $50 per month. If you’re into screen printing, MAKEbhm is also an option, but it seems to offer little else.
The only other shop, which seems to open its doors to printmakers in Alabama, is Green Pea Press. Membership is a bit complicated to explain, because options are tailored to all levels of activity. Chances are you’d find the access you are looking to gain, without breaking the bank. You just have to look through the options. Green Pea Press seems to be mostly offering screen printing and letterpress, but because it is a coop, it also seems to allow for artists interested in other techniques to make their place. This fun informative video will let you peak into their world.
We finally also want to give a shout out to After Letter Press, a commercial letterpress studio doing beautiful work. They don’t have a coop component, but if you need to promote an elegant event, their printing might just be what elevates it to a whole new level of chic.
Alaska’s rugged beauty and expansive landscapes has inspired locals and attracted adventuresome artists for many years. There are printmakers in Alaska, but due to the expansive nature of the state, there aren’t too many collective opportunities for graphic artists.
You can get a degree in printmaking while in the Land of the Midnight Sun. University of Alaska: Anchorage offers a Bachelor’s degree in Printmaking, offering instruction in “relief, intaglio, lithography and serigraphy”. University of Alaska: Fairbanks also offers printmaking as an area of study under the tutelage of Todd Sherman.
The only community printmaking studio we could find is Tent City Press in Anchorage, but what a wonderful find! This independent printmaking studio opened its doors in August 2017 and boasts to be Alaska’s only community print shop. They provide access to equipment in screen printing, relief, intaglio, letterpress, and riso for their members, who range from the casual printmaker to fine artists. They try to promote printmaking in Anchorage by teaching classes, mentoring one-on-one, and staying engaged in the art and music scenes! When this was written, membership was $75 for basic access, and $100 for access + flat file/locker storage. TCP only has a Facebook page at writing, but they are getting their website up soon!
Although not related to accessing printmaking facilities, we did want to mention an incredible print event in The Last Frontier. The Alaska Wilderness League hosted an Ink for Alaska juried printmaking exhibit in 2016 that showcases the Art of the Print, with work inspired by Alaska and/or our northern wilderness. It was put together to benefit the AWL’s mission to lead the effort to preserve Alaska’s wild lands and waters through engagement. Mesh’s own William H. Hays won the 2016 competition with his three submissions: Evensong (2011, see image below); Moonlight Lead (2016); and Ice Dawn. We certainly hope this exhibit occurs again and we will keep our eyes peeled for their winners!
Arizona has a rich history related to printmaking. Xico, which started operating in 1975 under the name of Xicoindio, states its mission to be: “to nourish a greater appreciation of the cultural and spiritual heritages of the Latino and Indigenous peoples of the Americas throughout the Arts”. The main image representing this article is a photograph from the Xico studio.
It also doesn’t discriminate, which means that you can rent space from them whomever you are. Located conveniently immediately south of downtown Phoenix, renting studio space and press access from Xico happens by the day/week/month. They also offer beginner classes and seem to have, at least at times, artists in residence working in their studios. It’s probably not the type of place where you will make numerous connections with other artists, but if you need a place to ink and print, this might just be what the doctor ordered.
In Tucson, The Drawing Studio offers access to its printmaking facilities two days a week, at the moment: Fridays from 9 am to 4 pm and on Mondays from 5.30 to 8.30. These studios are staffed by accomplished printmakers Andrew Rush, Jennifer Clarke and Tom Lindell. So even if this limited access doesn’t really work for you, you’d be a fool to be a printmaker in Tucson, and not at least stop by once. At the very least you’ll get to know fellow printmakers, who might just point you into the direction of a permanent home some place else.
Founded by five printmakers (Joan Thompson, Melinda Wing, and Carol Jenna, Marlys Kubicek and Deborah Hodder), the Arizona Print Group is an advocacy promoting printmakers around the state of Arizona. Its website also offers an opportunity to its approximately 30 members to introduce themselves and their work. Membership is free, which means that, if you are an active printmaker living or working in Arizona, and you haven’t signed up yet, you’re missing out! If that’s the case, stop reading this blog and click this link, like... you know... now!
When it comes to getting an education in printmaking, Arizona can be said to rock (and yes, that's a mezzotint pun, for those of your paying attention)! Both Arizona State University (see studio image above) in Phoenix and the College of Fine Arts in Tucson seem to offer access to killer facilities with equipment in most main printmaking techniques. And if you fear of being bored making just prints, the latter also has papermaking facilities and what they proudly tout to be “the largest collection of lead type of any teaching institution in North America is housed in two dedicated letterpress studios equipped with a Vandercook Universal I proof press, two Vandercook SP20 flatbed proof presses, and a Columbian hand press”. Having printing-arts indigestion already? We are. As if those two universities couldn’t accommodate all the printmakers Arizona needs, Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff also offers classes in intaglio, relief, screenprinting lithography... oh, did I mention “photographic transfer processes”? Okay AZ, we get it. You’re the unofficial state capital of printmaking in the United States. Why didn’t I know that?
With all this information neatly listed above, we now muse: for a state that has such amazing printmaking teaching/learning opportunities, where are the coop presses? Hey you, Phoenix-based printmakers, can you spot the opportunity? We can.
The printmaking community in Arkansas is alive and well! There are a fair amount of academic programs offering BFA and MFA degrees with a focus on printmaking, including University of Central Arkansas, University of Arkansas: Little Rock, University of Arkansas in Fayetteville and others. Some of the independent artists are also professors in some capacity, so they use their academic facilities to create work. There is also a wider community of printmakers in the Natural State, centered loosely around the Arkansas Society of Printmakers. Tammy Harrington, a professor at the University of the Ozarks and the president of the Arkansas Society of Printmakers, had this to say about artists and their facilities in Arkansas, “There are several printmakers that have presses in their homes and a community space called The Innovation Hub in North Little Rock that has a press. They provide a membership where an artist can utilize the space and equipment for both art and technology equipment.”
We took a look at the Innovation Hub and it is an incredible space, with diverse equipment and access points to create and innovate. They have studio access, classes, camps, fabrication and design help-for-hire, and much more. Not to mention their space is pretty beautiful, as you can see from the photo below (taken from their Instagram posts, @armakehub).
California is teeming with collaborative and community print shops, which is great news for independent graphic artists and curious novices alike! The Golden State’s long history of social activism and creativity pair perfectly with printmaking. There seems to be somewhere for everyone to print communally, as long as you know what you are looking for. Since there are many college and university printmaking programs in the state, we will limit our California list to studios that offer independent community access and rental facilities.
We will start with one of the most storied studios, the Graphic Arts Workshop in San Francisco (image above, courtesy of GAW website). Originally "founded in 1952 by faculty and artists from the California Labor School”, this printmaking epicenter has an incredible history rife with activism, Communism, and freedom of the press. Definitely take a look on the GAW history page for the full story. Today, the GAW has moved away from specifically political agendas and fosters graphic artists to create their own individual visions. There are approximately 26 cooperative members at this time and they are accepting applications for studio access at their American Industrial Complex in the Dogpatch neighborhood in SF.
Across the 101 in the Mission District of San Francisco is another historic artistic center with extensive printmaking facilities: The Mission Gráfica Printmaking Studio in the Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts (image above, courtesy of organization's website). The two institutions were started simultaneously in 1977 "by artists and community activists with a shared vision to promote, preserve and develop the cultural arts that reflect the living tradition and experiences of the Chicano, Central and South American, and Caribbean people, and to make arts accessible as an essential element to community development and well-being.” The printmaking studio boasts an Artist-in-Residency program, Latino & Chicano poster collection, classes, workshops and studio space for rent. With an emphasis on screenprinting in their programming, this studio does have facilities for all types of printmaking except lithography.
Outside of San Fran proper are some great print studio options as well! Kala Art Institute is an incredible resource for printmaking. Although these isn’t a cooperative print shop per se, there are a TON of incredible residencies and fellowships, so this establishment in graphic arts definitely deserves to be on this list. In San Jose, a unique artistic studio called the School of Visual Philosophy offers printmaking classes, as well as studio rental.
Sacramento has a gem of an open printmaking studio called Myrtle Press (see above, courtesy of Myrtle Press' website), which has many different membership options, including a 24/7 key membership for the late-night printer! They offer a unique repertoire of printmaking methods, including lithography, etching, relief, letterpress and UV exposure units for the photographic versions of these processes. On a smaller scale, Sonoma Community Center offers open studio access to a 700 square foot studio with 2 etching presses.
Interested in just screenprinting? The Grease Diner (image above, courtesy of Grease Diner) might be just the place for you in Oakland, with classes and studio access at a reasonable rate. Also, keep your eyes on the Little Giant Collective in Santa Cruz. Currently a collective with 11 members, they are “ready to move to a larger, professional workspace where we can realize our dream with an independent fully functioning printshop focusing on relief, letterpress, intaglio and silkscreen printing”. Exciting news for Santa Cruz!
If you are looking to connect with graphic artists that print both in community spaces and in their homes, the California Society of Printmakers is a wonderful resource. They are located in San Francisco, but provide support and exposure to printmakers throughout the state.
Let’s move on to Southern California...
For such a densely populated and historically creative area, Southern California did not have as many independent and accessible graphic studio spaces as we expected. We found a couple printmaking facilities that offer access to independent artists, but we believe the majority of artists work out of their homes or through the extensive higher education facilities located through the region.
Self Help Graphics (image above, courtesy of Self Help Graphics) is a non-profit that is “dedicated to the production, interpretation and distribution of prints and other art media by Chicana/o and Latinx artists”. They offer printmaking studio access to experienced artists Mon-Fri, 9a-5p with a range of pricing depending on amount of studio time one needs.
The Angels Gate Cultural Center’s Printmaking Studio (image above, courtesy of cultural center) is a wonderful find, supporting almost every printmaking medium through rented studio time. The City of Irvine Fine Arts Center has a myriad of open studio programs, including printmaking. The Center's reasonable rates and impressively equipped facilities make it a great option for the southern Los Angeles suburbs.
Located in Los Angeles’ Chinatown, Print Shop LA (image above, courtesy of LA Magazine) has a keyholder program that allows access to a studio that supports screenprinting, letterpress, risography, vinyl heat press, digital printing and etching/relief printing. Gotta love that 24-hour access option! During our research, we were also introduced to artist Linda Taylor's Spotted Dog Studio in Ojai, California. The studio is located in the beautiful backyard of the artist's home, and offers plenty of space and options for use! As you can see in the image below (courtesy of Spotted Dog Studio), the scenery couldn't be more beautiful.
Besides these printmaking facilities, Southern California has an incredible community of independent printmakers. The Santa Barbara Printmakers has nearly 75 members and keeps them up-to-date with printmaking exhibitions and competitions. The Los Angeles Printmaking Society is also a great resource, with impressive affiliations to the International Fine Print Dealers Association and the American Print Alliance. With a photo gallery to showcase member’s works on the website, a quarterly newsletter, and a very active Facebook page, this appears to be a fantastic resource for a graphic artist.
Whew, California certainly supports their printmakers! If you have additional facilities you would like listed here, please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.