Please welcome our first featured artist on the blog Jonathan Chao from Oakland, California.
Jon works at Ape Do Good Printing, an artist run commercial silkscreen printing shop in the Mission district of San Francisco, while also independently producing his own beautiful silkscreen zines and projects. Curious to get to know more about his process, motivation and upcoming projects we asked Jon to tell us a bit more about himself.
&PP: To start, can you tell us about how you began making zines and doing what you do?
JC: I am a printmaker that makes art zines/books. The zines, notably Warm Up, are experiments with the screen printing medium and the book format. My recent focus has been leaning towards abstraction with a focus on pattern work. I recently started screen printing and making art zines towards the end of 2012, but before that I was attending UC Santa Barbara for art. At Santa Barbara I was formally trained, but it wasn’t till the end of the school that I decided to pursue self-publication and focus more on printmaking. I recently picked up screen printing so I still feel pretty fresh to the medium, but at moment I have been thinking about creating film positives with analog means. As for art zines/books I am digging into the community and finding something I really enjoy; there’s so much there that it’s exciting to follow.
I spend a lot of time around screen printing so thinking about it in relation to my art is inevitable.
I try to take notice of colors that catch my attention when I’m around the shop. This helps me produce some interesting color schemes.
Here are some of my favorite zines and books in my collection. My most recent favorite find was Lite Murk by Cody Hoyt, printed by Visual Field Press. That Letman: The Art and Lettering of Job Wouters and Fraktur Mon Amour are also such awesome books.
&PP: We love your latest publication Warm Up, it’s beautiful. Care to walk us through your inspiration and process?
JC: The origin of Warm Up was a result of making mock ups for an 8 fold zine. It was with an old page covered with practice marks and strokes. I noticed how nice certain areas looked when focused from the full page. That event lead to the inspiration for the Warm Up series.
As for the process of composing the image, I created each layer as I went along and the process came organically. I experimented with making film positives through analog means and observed how certain materials and marks reacted when burned on the screen. I was curious about the results.
When preparing for Warm No. 1, I worked things out in my head and made preliminary thumbnail sketches. I hoped for the best when I printed, but left myself open to uncertain results and reactions. It was a real surprise with every layer, because I was loose with registering the different layers. Even more surprised was when I finished folding the finished print into an 8 fold zine. I thought it was interesting that I was working from a large image that would later on be turned into a series of smaller images. It was kind of a backwards way of working. I recently realized, as the maker of Warm Up, I was working to find out what the larger image will turn into as it is folded. Whereas, the viewer is working his or her way from the small folded image into the large unfolded full image. I like that.
&PP: What are you working on right now or have coming up in the future that you are looking forward to?
JC: In the near future you can expect two more different Warm Up editions. They will both be within a similar style of Warm Up No. 1, but focusing on different techniques in making screen positives. Then after the editions, I’ll dig through my sketchbook for the next project, which will most likely be some kind of print. My mind set has been geared towards screen printing since I’m around it so often. I’m excited to see what happens later.
&PP: Thanks for your time Jon, we look forward to seeing your new projects!