Passion For Printmaking: Student Printmakers Share and Sell Designs

Photo by Jeannette LaPointe.

Being a member of SUNY New Paltz Print Club is like having a taste of running a small business.

This student-run organization has been around for decades, selling and printing their own designs and artwork onto shirts and patches, while also making and selling their own pins.

According to Print Club president Emily Glascott, many more students know about printmaking and the Print Club thanks to the weekly farmer’s market on campus each Thursday. 

In the art of printmaking, the artists put an emulsion on a silk screen and wait for it to dry. Then, they put a black image or design on a piece of transparency and place it under an exposure unit, which is typically a UV light. The image gets burned on the screens so the emulsion leaves the print of the black image. Drying time for each step, according to Glascott, is generally around 15 minutes. Printmakers not only edit and create drawn designs, but can edit and create digital designs on the computer as well.

In order to raise awareness of printmaking and Print Club around the area, they have held public events in venues on and off campus, showcasing the artwork of club members and printmaking majors alike. Last spring semester, Print Club held a show at the ARTBAR gallery in Kingston. Additionally, they have also held live printing events at Bacchus, where they displayed their artwork on the walls of the pool room and live-printed shirts with their very own designs for anyone who brought their own materials.

Glascott delighted in the club’s public events because a large part of what Print Club is about is bringing the community together and getting people involved, she said. She wants the community to become a larger part of Print Club because the department itself is so tight-knit.

“In our major studio, everyone’s on top of each other all the time,” she said. “It’s a friendly environment to be in, whereas some other art departments have studios that are a little bit secluded and you have your own space. It’s nice for some other [art forms], like painting, but for printmaking, you really need to share tools and equipment so it’s nice to have a sense of community. I think that’s probably the best part, and that’s what printmaking is all about.” 

When tabling at the farmer’s market, Print Club has the opportunity to talk and collaborate with other clubs on campus. As part of their “small business,” they have recently collaborated with and printed shirts for Students for Sustainable Agriculture (Sus-Ag),  who joined the Print Club in their studio and helped with the process firsthand. Print Club made the shirts for Sus-Ag’s Fall Fest this Friday, Oct. 28, and will continue creating new ones over the next few weeks for the Outing and Equestrian Clubs. Members of the club also create their own designs and print them onto shirts and patches to be sold at the farmer’s market. 

Anna Corso, a fourth-year printmaking major and member of Print Club since December of 2014, created a personal design to be sold at the farmer’s market this year. Her design of a rat wearing a baseball cap with the caption “Rat Boiz” has been so popular among those who peruse the farmer’s market that many have continued to ask her if the club will be printing more of this particular print. 

“We bring a chance for people to support local art and artists in a way that’s more do-it-yourself,” Corso said. “And it’s been an awesome feeling to be able to put my work out there in a way that’s more accessible to my own peers and not just academics.”

Because Printing Club has a long history at SUNY New Paltz, current members continue to find old prints, drawings and designs from students who were around in the ‘80s and ‘90s. The students use these “vintage” prints on shirts that they sell at the farmer’s market and sell them for under $5.

Along with farmer’s market-tailored merch, Print Club creates and prints seasonal shirts, patches and even Valentine’s Day cards. For this fall and Halloween season, the printmakers have created quirky designs such as that with the caption “Totally Witchin’” over a witch’s hat.

In the couple of years that Glascott has been a part of Print Club, she said that now is the most successful it’s been in years. 

The money that Print Club makes from their commissions and sales goes toward raising money to go to their annual printmaking conference, which is hosted in a different city each year. This year, Print Club is travelling to Atlanta, Georgia for the Southern Graphics Council International conference. In years past, Print Club has traveled to Portland, Oregon and Knoxville, Tennessee. Glascott said that artists from all over the country and the world meet up at this conference, and it serves the students as a great source for networking with other artists and learning new techniques. 

“I’m really passionate about Print Club because I’ve seen it go through so many stages,” she said. “[The recent success] drives my motivation to keep making it better.”