ABOUT MONKEYROPE PRESS
You’re probably thinking that a particular print art or print style is really not all that distinctive. You might be thinking that this is just another way of presenting graphical information. While you may be justified in thinking that to a certain degree, please understand that for the most part, printmaking is a dying art. There’s really no other way to say it because there are just so many other graphical artforms out there.
Thanks to the advent and spread of computerized art, printmaking, with all its manual inputs, time-intensive design and propensity for errors, has simply fallen by the wayside. I wish I can say things differently, but this is definitely the case. Less and less people have the patience, attention to detail and resources to create prints. Sure, there are going to be still prints made regardless.
PRINT ART EXCELLENCE
Keep in mind that most still print or even lithography are made possible through laser technology. You come up with a draft and then you feed it to a scanner and the scanner then feeds the image to a laser machine. Cut out of this process entirely is the distinct joys and charms of manually setting type, manually cutting patterns, and manually setting things up so the ink will land on the right surface to produce the right image. In other words, you cut out all the manual charms of print art. Sure, the final product may look like it was manually produced. That’s how awesome laser-based printmaking can be.
Still, you should have no doubt about the fact that most people who come up with this type of art have completely taken out the manual aspects. In fact, there are many printmakers who would come up with a raw design. Basically, this is just a figment of their imagination, some sort of rough outline or composite. They would then tap the global freelancer community and get graphics artists from all over the world.
WOODBLOCK PRINT ART
In fact, they can slice and dice this production process to the point that they can get the inking done in the Philippines, the colors done in India, and the final quality controls done in Bangladesh or elsewhere. What comes back is a digital work file which they can then feed into a laser-cutting machine which in turn interacts with printing presses to produce the final work which, of course, can then be shipped all over the world. If you think this globalization is awesome, you are absolutely correct, but a lot is lost in translation.
There’s something beautiful about somebody slaving over a piece of wood, checking the print over and over again until he or she gets it just right. I am, of course, referring to the process of craftsmanship. When somebody works with their hands, they’re actually infusing their work with a tremendous amount of soul, grit, determination, and yes, emotional presence. You don’t have that with modern printmaking art. You really don’t. Everything is mechanical. Everything is sanitized, antiseptic and ultimately, not quite human.
ORIGINAL PRINT INVESTMENTS
Sure, at the beginning of the process you have somebody holding a pen, you have somebody creating some sort of rough design. But since you have fragmented the whole production process among different people you probably haven’t even met on a face-to-face basis, a lot of the soul is simply just left out there. It doesn’t even enter the picture. A lot of the passion, the attention to detail, the emotional pathos and immensity as well as the sense of urgency are simply reduced to the zeroes and ones of a digital file.
In other words, passion, emotion, intellectual curiosity, the sense of possibility – all of that is just translated out and what’s left is a digital format which, while it may produce something that can pass as a product of passion and emotional honesty, can also easily be yet another commodified product of our modern industrial age. We live in a postmodern industrial age that simply strip the soul out of the machine. Gone are the days of the renaissance craftsman slaving for years to liberate the amazing forms out of cold, hard rock.
AWESOME PRINT ART
Monkeyropepress.com is my small contribution to the global effort of artisans of all shapes, sizes and backgrounds to bring back soul to the art production process. I don’t care whether you’re a poet, a novelist, a writer, a cartoonist, a sculptor or a painter. You operate from soul. You operate with an unquenchable thirst for truth, beauty, expression. This can be a messy situation. This can even be painful. But there is a lot to be said about the process and unfortunately, that’s exactly the element we leave at the table when we break down the art creation process and outsource it to a globalized art factory.
I know that seems like an insult and I know that I’m probably going to be stepping on a lot of people’s toes with that characterization but there’s really no escaping it. Art today, for all intents and purposes, is yet another commodity that you buy from a globalized marketplace, you take home, you unwrap and you enjoy. It’s no different from a frozen dinner. It’s no different from that bag of popcorn that you get at your local grocery store. While nobody’s arguing that we should go back to that pre-industrial stage, it is also equally true that nobody could argue that a lot of the soul has left or been sucked out of the process.
Let me tell you, art is supposed to be something more than that. Art, after all, is that one thing that connects us to who we truly are. We are spiritual beings. It doesn’t really matter whether you believe in God or not. What matters is that you have a spirit and we all share this bond that separates us from animals. We’re not just here to eat. We’re not just here to have sex and die. There’s something more to life than that.
We’re not here just to acquire material possessions and goods. There’s something more to life than simply getting and art has historically been the bridge to human transcendence, to human yearning to become something more.
And to abstract this in pure industrial commercial terms is really to leave a lot out in the translation. Monkeyropepress.com is my one small personal attempt at taking back that soul. Through the prints that I share here as well as the detailed description of my personal underground comics production process, you dial in into my attempts at peeling back commercialism.
My big beef about the way modern art is created, disseminated, produced and distributed is that it leaves the human being out of the equation. By sharing with you my prints as well as the comics that I’ve come up with throughout the years.
Please understand that it’s too easy to view art as yet another possession. It’s too easy to see it as something that looks good on paper or on a wall somewhere. But to view and restrict art as simply decorations is to essentially deny its spiritual power. It’s supposed to be disturbing. It’s supposed to make you cry. It’s supposed to infuriate you because when those things happen, you are reminded that you are alive.
It doesn’t have to be all about getting. Instead, it can be communal. It can be shared. It can trigger all sorts of impulses for deep personal insight and freedom. In other words, it can produce what art was supposed to produce all along.
MONKEYROPE PRESS BLOG
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