BIG INK is...
A Leader in the Print Community
BIG INK is a nationally recognized arts organization and educational program operating a traveling mobile printmaking studio. We partner with other arts organizations throughout the USA and hosts public events where monumental prints are pulled from large-scale woodblock plates. These plate are carved ahead of time by artists who apply to participate via the form on this page.
Created by Artists for Artists
Lyell Castonguay's expertise includes reduction, multi-block, and large-scale woodblock printing. As a teacher and Director of BIG INK, Castonguay has extensive experience working with other artists, guiding them through the creative process, and printing their work. His prints are represented by several galleries across the US. Carand Burnet manages BIG INK's online presence and helps facilitate events. She has written about printmaking in Art New England Magazine, Art In Print, Printmaking Today, and Printeresting.org.
A One-of-a-Kind Collaborative Experience
Events are a constructive way to collaborate with BIG INK in an inspiring space while gaining an in-depth knowledge of how to create a large-scale woodblock print. Take this opportunity to network with other participants, plug into our growing creative community, and produce high-quality work that can be used later for sale and exhibition purposes.
Designed for All Experience Levels
BIG INK is designed for artists who understand basic woodblock principles but want to expand their expertise and working scale. The program is also designed for those not yet trained in woodblock but whose visual aesthetic would lend itself to the medium. This includes illustrators, sculptors, designers, and painters who use bold contrast, strong outlines, and patterning. Participating in an event often inspires artists to incorporate more print work in their studio practice.
Artists Are Provided Tutorials Covering...
Brief History of Woodblock Printing
Holding Carving Tools
Proper Carving Depths
Correcting Carving Mistakes
Cut Out & Power Carver Tools
Wire Brush & Wood Burning
Ink Types & Processes
Printing Without a Press
Curation (Touching Up Prints)
Requirements for Applying
Size: Images proposals must be at least 24” x 36” in dimension but no larger than the maximum size indicated under each venue’s details. This information is located further down the page. Maximum size is dictated by the equipment available at the venue in which we’re printing.
Materials: Artists are responsible for securing plywood, MDF or Shina for carving in addition to carving tools. The plywood, MDF or Shina must be either 1/2″ or 3/8″ thick. BIG INK provides technical documentation and step-by-step videos to get participants started.
Originality: We recommend submitting a refined concept sketch, a finished drawing, or a complete digital design of what you intend to carve. A loose sketch, collage, or painting is also acceptable. Preference will be given to artists that clearly illustrate their concept. Images must be solely created by the applicant.
Fees: It is free to submit your proposal; accepted artists pay $300 to participate. This includes access to BIG INK’s video course leading up to the event. It also includes: paper, ink, cleaning supplies, studio equipment usage, BIG INK’s technical expertise during the printing event and photography of the finished work after the event.
Attendance: Artists are responsible for attending the printing day assigned to them. You’re welcome to attend any other scheduled printing days but are not required to do so.
Can two artists collaborate on a proposal?
Yes, list both names on the application.
Can applicants submit a previously executed image?
Can participants modify their image after being accepted?
Yes, as long as it is the same aesthetic and subject matter.
Does the proposal image have to be created large-scale?
How many printing days are participants required to attend?
How many prints are produced per participant?
Three, one of which is placed in the BIG INK archive.
Can participants bring paper and print more?
Because we work with many artists at one time we standardize for time’s sake. There isn’t enough time to print more than three impressions of your woodblock at the event.
What type of paper does BIG INK use?
What type of ink does BIG INK use?
Do participants have to bring any other art materials, other than there carved woodblock, to the event?
Can participants print in color?
Because BIG INK works with many artists at one time we standardize for time’s sake. There isn’t enough time and space for color printing.
How do event participants transport wet prints?
BIG INK provides newsprint to wrap wet prints.
Does BIG INK have recommendations on where to stay?
Participants are responsible for securing accommodations. We use Airbnb frequently. The site allows you to input where the event is happening and view the nearest rooms. Also, quality hotels are usually located a short distance away. We recommend booking sooner rather than later to ensure the best availability and price.
What is the best way to transport woodblocks to and from the venue if a participant is flying?
Participants may be able to ship their woodblock directly to the venue. Contact BIG INK directly to confirm. When shipping woodblocks please include a return label in the package. This facilitates shipping the woodblock back home.
Who retains ownership of the woodblock after the event?
The artist retains full ownership and is free to create an edition of their work after the event.
Can BIG INK create an edition of prints for an artist after the event?
Yes, for a fixed rate. Contact BIG INK directly to confirm.
Can participants cut the woodblock in half to facilitate transport to and from the event?
Yes, BIG INK recommends it for images over 6′ in length. We will simply abut the pieces together on the press during printing.
What if I have other questions?
Painters, sculptors, photographers and any other ambitious souls are welcome to apply. You don’t have to be an expert printmaker. BIG INK has coached accepted participants of all career levels, from emerging to established, through the process.
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