Get to Know : Jonathan Chao

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. 

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&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.

ape do good I spend a lot of time around screen printing so thinking about it in relation to my art is inevitable. 

ink rackI try to take notice of colors that catch my attention when I’m around the shop. This helps me produce some interesting color schemes.

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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.

DSC_0237 &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.

DSC_0239 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.

DSC_0242When 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.

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&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!

Friday Favorite : Amalia Pica

It’s Friday! This week’s Friday Favorite post is on an exhibition catalog by the incredible London- based Argentinian artist, Amalia Pica. We’ve been fans of Pica’s work for awhile so when we heard about this publication coming out we couldn’t wait to get our hands on it. 

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The book began with her first major solo museum show, Amalia Pica at the MCA, where approximately fifteen of her most significant works from the last seven years, in addition to new commissions, were exhibited in the United States for the first time.

DSC_0257Incorporating simple everyday objects and celebratory signifiers of celebration such as fiesta lights, flags and banners, confetti, rainbows, photocopies, lightbulbs, drinking glasses, beer bottles and cardboard Pica’s work is optimistic, colorful, poetic and beautiful.

Pica’s work is directly dealing with that the translation of symbolic language and motivated by how meaning is created and deciphered between the artist and the viewer. 

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With a similar creative energy curators João Ribas of MIT List Visual Arts Center, and Julie Rodrigues Widholm of the MCA came together to spearhead the publication with the goal of giving an in-depth look at the last ten years of Pica’s work. During this time Pica worked in close collaborative dialogue for the design and editorial process. The result is a strong visual and text based overview of her  drawings, sculptures, large-scale photographic prints, slide projections, live performances and installations.

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With 112 colorful pages,  foldout sections, radius-cut board cover with foil-blocked buckram spine and a yellow transparent PVC dust jacket the publication exudes a high level of visual, conceptual and textural stimulation. The design feels synonymous with Pica’s work, and makes for an enjoyable way to experience Pica’s work. Even the transparent greenish-yellow PVC dust jacket mimics Pica’s use of coloured gels within her work.

All in all this is a fun, interesting publication, and a perfect overview for those interested in learning more about Pica’s work. Highly recommended. 

Available for $30 in the & Pens Press online store here.

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Amalia Pica
Project: Exhibition catalogue
Publisher: MCA Chicago, Artbook | DAP
Format: 203.2 × 254 mm (8 × 10 in)
112 pages with foldout sections
Radius-cut board cover with foil-blocked buckram spine, yellow transparent PVC dust jacket
Curators: João Ribas (MIT List), Julie Rodrigues Widholm (MCA Chicago)
Director of Publications: Kate Steinmann
Editors: Lisa Meyerowitz, Molly Zimmerman-Feeley
Designers: James Goggin, Scott Reinhard
Printing: Die Keure, Bruges

The Timeless Interaction of Color

Josef Albers, the German-born artist and educator who taught at the Bauhaus, Black Mountain College and Yale University created Interaction of Color as a handbook and teaching aid for artists, instructors, and students.

For those who have experience with this book (by teaching from or learning from it) knows it is a timeless and mesmerizing resource for anyone interested in color theory and human perception. 

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Originally published by Yale University Press in 1963 as a limited silkscreen edition with 150 color plates, Interaction of Color first appeared in paperback in 1971, featuring ten color studies chosen by Albers, and has remained in print ever since.

With over a quarter of a million copies sold in its various editions since 1963, Interaction of Color has become a watershed on complex color theory principles and is as pioneering today as when Albers first created it.

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Fifty years after Interaction of Colors’s initial publication, this new edition presents an expanded selection of close to sixty color studies alongside Albers’s original text, demonstrating such principles as color relativity, intensity, and temperature; vibrating and vanishing boundaries; and the illusion of transparency and reversed grounds.

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To further celebrate the book’s 50th anniversary Yale University Press also released  a new way to engage with Albers’s lessons by releasing the “Interaction of Color” App for the iPad.

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The ($9.99) app combines the book’s text and color studies, video commentary, interviews and over 60 new interactive plates that enables users to try their own color experiments with color. 

While we strongly believe there is something essential to holding publications in your hand, feeling the stock and tooth of paper and seeing colors in changing light, this app is an exciting way for Alber’s teachings to reach new audiences in studios and classrooms and that we are unquestionably in favor for that. 

Purchase Interaction of Color by Josef Albers here
Visit the Yale Books website for more info on the Interaction of Color App.

 

Tuesday Poetry

DSC_0276Tuesday in the bookshop brings us Pøems by Nick DeMarco, published in 2012 by Peradam.

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This 20 page handheld book features  a series of visual poems composed by using typography and glyphs.

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DSC_0211Some poetry communicates through flowery vocabulary but DeMarco reminds us that communicating viscerally in a more abstract and formal language can elicit interesting responses as well.

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Maya Hayuk at the Hammer

This past Friday we got a chance to see the newly completed Maya Hayuk murals at the Hammer Museum. They are beautiful and should definitely be experienced in person.

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This smaller mural at the top of the stairs might have been my favorite.

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Going hand in hand with Hayuk’s work was Generationalpictomusicapolis, a night of psychedelic sounds, organized by curator Darren Klein, featuring No Age, Sun Foot and Devin Gary & Ross.

5adb77d2070211e3acaf22000ae80c8d_7Coincidentally it was the first night of No Age’s tour which lead to much excitement. Good times all around that evening.

Monday Morning Meditations

Happy Monday all! To start off the week I thought I would share a new gem in the & Pens Press library, Mazdaznan Health & Breath Culture, the First Six Exercises.

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This soft bound, saddle stitched zine, explores the relationship between Mazdaznan, Johannes Itten and the Foundation Courses he taught at the Bauhaus.

If you are not familiar with Mazdaznan studies it was a religion founded by the  Dr. Otoman Zar-Adusht Ha’nish in Chicago at the start of the twentieth century. A couple interesting facts that we learned about Dr. Ha’nish was that it is rumored that Edison named the first lightbulb Mazda in his honor and that Henry Ford attributed the dawn of the motor-age to Ha’nish’s influence. The Swiss artist and teacher Johannes Itten was also a devout Mazdaznan and its exercises were an essential part of his courses at the Bauhaus.

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To give you a general overview Health & Breath Culture is a practical guide to performing the exercises taught by Itten at the Bauhaus.  Throughout the zine you are lead through six exercises in thought, posture and breathing to help improve different senses.

The six chapters concentrate on:

1. Sight and Concentration

2. Hearing and Intuition

3. Smell and Memory

4. Taste and Will Power

5. Touch and Nerve Energy

6. Feeling and Heart Culture

Accompanying the six instructions are these beautiful and sweet line drawings of current Foundation students demonstrating the exercises, illustrated by Ian Whittlesea. (Admittedly the drawings are what lead me to spending more time with the text.)

DSC_0208 DSC_0209Following the first section of the book is a selection of found texts and images on the belief and history of Mazdaznan, which is pretty interesting.

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So, if you are struggling with the Monday blues today this publication is a great item to have on hand, or in your bag, when you have a quiet moment and need a release. (Our favorite exercise to try at the shop is Taste and Will Power.)

Available (even for skeptics) in the bookstore, here.

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Mazdaznan Health & Breath Culture, The First Six Exercises

By Otoman Zar-Adusht Ha’nish.

Illustrated by Ian Whittlesea with drawings of current Foundation students demonstrating the exercises, followed by a selection of found texts and images on the beliefs and history of Mazdaznan.