From the Topo Chico bottle sitting on the kitchen counter to the Rolling Stones T-shirt at the bottom of a laundry basket, familiar prints-turned-brands are easy to overlook. UT alumna Elvia Perrin and her business partner Cathy Savage are trying to change that — for the two of them, prints serve as a source of inspiration and income.
“So much of the artist goes into making prints — each one is made by hand, each one takes time, each one is specifically unique — and so there’s a lot of love and patience and a part of yourself that goes into each and every print,” Perrin said.
The printmaking process includes engraving, etching and serigraphy — a process more commonly known as silkscreening. Alhough the practice requires great technical skill, Perrin said printmaking constantly evolves as a medium, so no two prints are the same.
Two years ago, Perrin and Savage decided to bring the world of printmaking to the Austin art scene. After countless gallery visits and intensive planning, the artists saw their vision come to fruition in the form of PrintAustin. PrintAustin is a month-long printmaking festival that features over 80 events including exhibits, workshops and demos in creative spaces throughout Austin.
Studio art sophomore Jessilee Shipman has attended PrintAustin since its inception. She said PrintAustin events exposed her to an inclusive community that encourages young artists.
“I was so impressed to see how extensive [the festival] was,” Shipman said. “It included every type of artist, demos, workshops, everything — students, professionals, big galleries, small galleries.”
Shipman, who has worked at the Art Store at the Co-op since her first semester at UT, said the store receives an increasing number of calls regarding printmaking supplies during PrintAustin.
The Co-op will be selling art supplies during the festival.
In addition to working with Austin businesses, PrintAustin provides opportunities for students to display their prints in professional settings. For $100, artists can reserve a table at the festival to sell their work. Studio art senior Toni Bair said she gained first hand experience showing her work at a PrintAustin-affiliated gallery Friday.
“I think it’s really good experience for undergrads like me because most of us don’t have any experience with exhibitions or really showing our artwork,” Bair said.
One of PrintAustin’s upcoming events is PrintExpo, where work from local artists is sold. Each individual artist involved in the expo designed a handmade original handkerchief, which will also be for sale. The expo will feature printmaking demonstrations. Perrin said she believes the expo is an important platform to help connect artists with their audience.
“We love to support regional talent and people who are doing innovative things with printmaking,” Perrin said. “And trying to get connected here in our community — what would be interesting to see here in Austin that’s different and fresh?”
As a student artist with aspirations to incorporate printmaking into her portfolio, Shipman said these events encourage her to keep making art.
“The fact that PrintAustin exists proves to me that as a young student artist, there is a community looking out for us,” Shipman said. “There are a group of people interested in what we’re doing.”