Their printshop may sound low-tech to some, but the Buchanans have earned recognition for their work and have racked up some heavy commissions.
You don't need lots of people, vast square footage, or top-of-the-line equipment to produce graphics that astonish. Focusing on excellent design and getting the most out of the resources you have—and maybe calling in a favor once in a while—is often enough to create something memorable.
Need some proof? Consider the following. This mini case study appears in "Prime Prints," a feature I wrote for the February/March 2013 edition of Screen Printing magazine.
Melissa and James Buchanan have worked as The Little Friends of Printmaking (www.thelittlefriendsofprintmaking.com) since 2003. As Melissa puts it, “We're just two illustrators/artists with a home studio; we employ no one but ourselves, and we print by hand on a $75 Uline utility table.”
Their printshop may sound low-tech to some, but the Buchanans have earned recognition for their work and have racked up some heavy commissions, such as the work shown here. This job came from the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum for its “40 Under 40: Craft Futures” exhibition. Melissa says the project was unusual for the Smithsonian American Art Museum, because the institution doesn’t typically commission outside artists to create exhibition posters.
“Doing so allowed them to use handcraft to promote a show about handcraft; to make the poster an element of the exhibition in a way that it wouldn't ordinarily be. For our part, we were able to represent artists and artwork from the exhibition in our poster, so that it didn't just function as a poster or a promotional item, but as a mini-catalogue,” she explains.
The Little Friends of Printmaking produced the three-color design in an edition of 400 pieces on French Paper's Pop-Tone Blue Raspberry. Melissa says the entire design process, from approved sketches to prepress, took about 40 hours and that she and James spent three full days printing.
“The poster was designed and prepared for print on a desktop computer using Flash MX and Adobe Illustrator CS. Film separations were produced at a local architectural-printing depot from an Océ plotter. The printing was done on a Uline utility table with Speedball hinge clamps attached by large carriage bolts, alongside a Saturn drying rack,” she says.
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