DIY Printing: All Are Welcome
by Rebekka Sage
An artist community can be measured by people's willingness to put the energy, effort, money, and time into it. Aaron Kent is one of those persistent souls pushing printmaking forward in the Cincinnati area.
After graduating from the Art Academy of Cincinnati, Kent lost his student access to the printmaking equipment. In 2011 he established DIY Printing in hopes to create one of the few artist run printmaking co-ops in Cincinnati. “DIY Printing sort of found me. I never set out to start DIY Printing. I just realized that people really wanted a printing studio and somebody who is willing to work with artists and designers to build an artistic community for all to create”, Kent said.
Before it was officially established, DIY Printing volunteers have been working in conjunction with anonymous art and performance group Arthole. Kent taught all the members of Arthole the process of silkscreening and oversaw the printing of large scale images on brown butcher paper. He worked together with a couple of the artists from Arthole to create “War Games” at Prairie Gallery for the Real Hot Toy Show in July of 2010. In the “War Games” performance/installation, the beginning DIY printing members created a croquette field lined with silkscreened grenades where two players dressed in HazMat styled suits were playing croquette with sledgehammers and casted aluminum skulls.
As for the Arthole and DIY Printing collaboration, creating wheat paste murals seemed like a natural progression. With Kent's help and some of his silkscreens, the first mural went up in June of 2011 called the “Rules of Arthole” on a building in Brighton Corner. The mural portrayed a pattern of Arthole Approved Stickers tiled with Kent's skulls highlighted with two gas masks. The “Rules of Arthole” was posted over top of the mural as a manifesto for artists to become more involved in the community outside their own work.
After the mural gained notice and positive reaction by the public, DIY printing was asked to create another mural for the art and music space, The Mockbee. This time around, the collaboration titled “theARTHOLE” portrayed printed gun targets offset with magenta stars adorned with AK-47s. The main focus of the large wall mural was a skinny gas masked nun wielding a shotgun. Different prints were brought together by the phrase, “Souviens toi que tu vas mourir, ” (translated to “remember that you will die”).
With DIY Printing’s help, Arthole was given the tools and equipment to realize projects that probably would not have been carried out without this collaboration. The hope is that we will see more of these types of collaborations with art and performance groups and DIY Printing as the organization moves forward.
Community outreach has always been an important component of DIY Printing’s mission. In addition to working with Arthole, Kent and other artists started silkscreening at music venues and Over the Rhine block parties where volunteers handed out free prints to raise awareness of the organization's objectives and to recruit more artists to join. From there, the DIY Printing group started doing fundraisers for Semantics Gallery and kids craft demos at Crafty supermarket. In order to be able to further its outreach to the community and offset the costs of the printing studio and supplies, Kent realized that DIY printing needs to be able to acquire at least some income. Most of the currently acquired income stems from printing for artists and small local businesses.
With the expansion of DIY Printing into small printing services
also came the opportunity to work with Krista Brinkmeyer's Cincinnati Story Murals and Public Allies. Kent has been assisting Brinkeyer with the silkscreen aspects of her four murals. He was also given the opportunity to teach a group silkscreen class to Visionaries and Voices — a non-profit organization striving to empower artists with mentally and physically disabilities. As an extension of this project, DIY Printing will be offering classes to students of all ages and from
Kent is trying to foster the development of DIY Printing by ensuring that the co-op bends and folds whichever way the community needs to further evolve. In the short year it has been open, it has moved into a larger space with the hopes of being able to accommodate more people. The future of DIY Printing will be a blend of raising awareness about silk screening and recruiting more artists into the fold. They aim to make an impact on the artistic community and to bring the silk screening closer to a wider population. As part of Kent's do it your self ideals, all are welcome.