Learn about our program and how to get involved.
Our mission is to inspire a greater public appreciation for relief printmaking and extend its practice among contemporary artists.
BIG INK is an organized network of creative thinkers focused on carving, printing, and promoting large scale woodcuts. We invite artists, via a call-for-entry application process, to submit a proposal to create a woodcut, at least 24” x 36” in dimension, through bigink.org. Approximately fourteen artists are accepted per event and given two months to carve an image. At the end of the two months, BIG INK meets with the artists at a predetermined space, such as an art center, festival, or community print shop, and helps them print his or her woodcut onto paper. These events culminate in exhibition opportunities and potential sales for the artists who participate.
In addition to our call-for-entry program, BIG INK also works with organizations for a flat fee. This is common with universities who’d like us to do a public demonstration or assist in printing work made by their students. For museums, BIG INK is an engaging educational component to print related exhibitions and is a great community building program. BIG INK is also an excellent example of how arts management is multifaceted and constantly evolving. Hosting a printing event, organizing an exhibit, or holding a lecture helps the next generation of creatives contextualize what skills are needed to succeed in the arts.
Initially, BIG INK began as a way for Lyell Castonguay and his partner, Carand, to share their acquired knowledge of the medium with others. Since 2012, a national community of over a hundred past participants has formed! We believe it’s important that the prints produced at BIG INK events are seen and appreciated as a whole. Therefore, we request ownership of one print from each participant to archive in the BIG INK portfolio. Their work is professionally photographed, added to the bigink.org online gallery, and used for curatorial projects.
"The Big Tuna" Giant Mobile Press
Each year over a dozen art organizations throughout the country opens their doors for BIG INK events. The woodcuts are sometimes printed using the host organization’s existing facilities, but more often they are printed on BIG INK’s giant mobile etching press dubbed “The Big Tuna.” “The Big Tuna” is unique in that it can travel practically anywhere, can be set up indoors or outdoors, and prints woodcuts up to 48″ x 96″ in size. No other such machine exists that can travel readily and provide artists easily affordable access to specialized printing equipment.
Host An Event
We partner with select organizations in which we put together a call for entry, post it on BIG INK’s website, and field proposals from artists. This service doesn’t cost the partnering art organization anything monetarily but requires that both parties promote the call extensively in order to field enough qualified participants. Our decision to host a call-for-entry at your venue depends on these key factors:
- Has your organization been established for at least 5 years?
- Can you think of artists associated within your organization that would be interested in participating?
- Does your organization have an engaged social media presence?
- Does your organization have an email newsletter list of at least 1,000 subscribers?
- Is your organization located in or around a densely populated area?
Alternatively, to guarantee that an event runs, consider paying a flat fee for a BIG INK visit. We’re happy to have an in-depth conversation about how to best work together! Please contact us for more information.
BIG INK provides an opportunity to network with a broad demographic of artists, from emerging to established. Events have been organized to coincide with exhibits, open studios, and fundraising efforts just to name a few. In addition, each host venue’s name is displayed next to the artist’s work both online and in exhibitions. BIG INK provides all the consumable materials and handles every aspect of the call-for-entry. This allows host venues to participate with a minimal investment of time.
We’re passionate about printmaking and BIG INK focuses that enthusiasm. By uniting under a common cause, we help to ensure a bright future for the medium. Wanna join our network of die-hard relief printmakers? Apply on this page and carve wood for the good of humanity! Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Tumblr and check out the gallery of prints created by past participants. Your work could be featured next. Would you like a BIG INK event at your place? Start a conversation by contacting us. Peace out and happy printing!