For my Professional Practices, I decided to attend one of the First Friday Art Walk stops. I visited the gallery at Epic Seconds on November 2nd, which was featuring works by Matt Dye. Matt is a silkscreen print artist who works under the name “Blunt Graffix.” He started with designing and printing movie posters, and then he moved on to do more of his own original works.
A lot of the stuff he had up he calls “test prints.” Those are his works where he is just experimenting, and eventually he may reproduce them into an “edition.” Usually, screen printers will produce hundreds or thousands of prints per edition, but he likes to produce no more than fifty. He even said “I like to print less, charge more!” Something cool is that each print is slightly different from the other. Since he’s showcasing his test prints, they are all original and one-of-a-kind!
The most common subject he had seemed to be pop-culture references and mash-ups. He likes to incorporate different celebrities and other pop-culture icons. For example, his art has many Star Wars characters such as Han Solo or Darth Vader, but superimposes different celebrities over the heads to create new ideas and visions. It’s these mash-ups that make his art so fun to see. You have to get up close to the prints and look carefully to catch all the references. Some are large and obvious, while others are very small and hidden! He also said that he tries to balance working with subjects that not only he is interested in, but also what his clients are interested in. I think this is important and can be applied to anybody working in the arts. You have to make art that others will appreciate and want to own, while also enjoying it yourself. If you don’t make stuff others like, then you will have a harder time selling it, yet if you don’t make stuff that that you enjoy, you will have a harder time making it.
One thing that is cool about some of his work is that he uses this shiny “holographic” cardboard material as his base. That is the same stuff that is used in trading cards like Pokémon cards. Apparently, he is one of the first people to make large scale screen prints on on that shiny material, making him even more unique! I think this choice not only reinforces the colorful, vibrant, and “popping” effect of his art, but also by using the same material that makes trading cards it fits in with his whole pop-culture mash-up theme!
Another cool thing about him is that he is hired globally to make screen prints for clients and collectors, or even comic conventions! It always amazes me whenever I hear about a local artist or other company that is based locally in Eugene but has some global fame as well!
Also, silkscreen print media looks really cool. There is lots of working with layers, which results in a sense of depth that is added to an otherwise two-dimensional paper. Also, each color has to be applied with a different layer, so there’s a lot of work and planning to be done. It’s a very different kind of art than painting or drawing.
Overall, I really enjoyed Matt Dye’s exhibit at Epic Seconds. Silkscreen printing is one of those art forms that I have never really understood or paid attention to until now. So not only was this exhibit cool to visit, but it also unlocked a whole other art form that I’m exited to check out in the future! One thing that I wish Matt had done during his show was give a little longer speech, or even just elaborate on his artistic method, since I don’t know much about the screen printing process.
By the way, the gallery will be up for the next two months, so any of you can go check it out if you wish!