Learn about our program and how to get involved.
Our mission is to inspire a greater public appreciation for large-scale woodblock printmaking and extend its practice.
BIG INK is an organized network of creative thinkers focused on promoting the art of large-scale woodblock printing. Lyell Castonguay and Carand Burnet first developed the idea in 2012 as a way to spread their passion for the medium with other artists and the general public. In 2017 BIG INK was established as an LLC. BIG INK works by establishing a temporary print shop on site at partnership organizations, most often at museums, universities, art centers, studios, and galleries. Artists are selected, either by personal invitation or through a call-for-entry process, to attend these events and print original woodblocks at least 24” x 36” in dimension. Since the program’s inception, hundreds of artists have participated in BIG INK events across the country.
Individuals accepted into BIG INK’s call-for-entry program enjoy a variety of perks. Services include photography of the finished work and potential inclusion in BIG INK focused group shows hosted at multiple venues each year. BIG INK’s step-by-step videos demonstrate the preferred materials and techniques, including plywood types, image transferring, carving, creating textures, fixing mistakes, tool maintenance, incorporating power tools, and more. There are over twenty segments in the series. The course is designed for the experienced printmaker as well as creative makers new to woodblock who have worked in media such as painting, sculpture, illustration, graphic design, and more. Expanding the practice of woodblock printing is a cornerstone of our overall mission. We pride ourselves on helping artists discover the potential of this wonderful art form!
In addition to our call-for-entry program, BIG INK works with organizations on a contract basis. This is common with museums who’d like for us to do an educational demonstration for their visitors or universities who’d like for us to work alongside their students. The sheer spectacle of printing large and the kinetic energy of a group of artists working together makes for a demonstration that is educational and inspiring. Hosting a printing event, organizing an exhibit, or holding a lecture helps the community see the intrinsic value of this historically rich practice.
"The Big Tuna" Giant Mobile Press
The equipment BIG INK utilizes is part of what makes our program special. BIG INK’s giant mobile press, officially dubbed The Big Tuna, is unique in that it can travel practically anywhere. It can be set up indoors or outdoors and can print oversize with relative ease. No other such machine exists that can travel readily and provide artists access to large-scale printing equipment. The Big Tuna has made quite an impression when assembled in various places such as the entrance to a subway station, in the middle of a flea market or at the heart of a city commons.
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 contracting with BIG INK. We’re happy to have a 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 archive 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!