Elvia Perrin

PrintAustin, founded by Cathy Savage and Elvia Perrin, is a month-long printmaking expo running from Jan. 15 to Feb. 15. The expo features over 80 events including exhibits, workshops and demos.

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Cathy Savage | Daily Texan Staff

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.” 

Jeff Dell examines a print at the Blanton Museum on Thursday night. The exhibit is part of PrintAustin 2014, a month-long festival in Austin that celebrates the art of printmaking.

Photo Credit: Lauren Ussery | Daily Texan Staff

The Blanton Museum of Art held an open-house exhibit showcasing its printmaking collection Thursday night as part of a month-long print festival in Austin. 

The exhibit, under the direction of print-room specialist Kristin Holder, features a collection of 23 pieces on paper ranging from the 15th century to the present. Holder said the universal subject-matter within print work might be the reason for a resurgence of interest.

“The underlying theme of printmaking is that it has the ability to be mass-produced and reach a large audience,” Holder said. “What is happening now is that recent developments like social media and the internet have exploded along those same lines. It has the ability to reach a large audience.”

The pieces drew attention from students, such as sociology junior Brooke Brockman, who heard about the exhibit through email.

“I get the event emails from UT every day, and I usually just scan through them, but this time I saw the names of Diego Rivera and Pablo Picasso, so I was intrigued and thought I would check it out,” Brockman said. “I’m definitely an art enthusiast. [Printmaking is] an activity my boyfriend and I like doing ourselves, so we enjoy exhibits. You get to come in and see some works that you may have never known existed.”

The exhibition was an early event as part of PrintAustin, a celebration of the art of printmaking within the Austin community. Co-chairs Elvia Perrin and Cathy Savage have been preparing the events since last summer.

“We started in July and have been working for the last six months,” Perrin said. “We have tons of support from volunteers, from the printmakers, all the galleries and UT. The Blanton and the Harry Ransom Center are all contributing their time and their resources to promote prints for the month.”

Savage said that although printmaking hasn’t enjoyed much attention in recent years, she and Perrin hope the event will encourage a greater appreciation for the art form.

“Austin has been a print town for a long time, except no one besides printmakers [have] known that,” Savage said. “This was our opportunity to tell Austin what a rich printmaking community is here.”

Perrin said she hopes the festival will foster a supportive community among Austin artists.

“We really just wanted to promote what we love and create an environment where local artists can make prints and sell prints in Austin, Texas,” Perrin said.