Carved Quarterly - Winter 2020

Looking back at the end of a decade, we reflect on a year full of incredible creative experiences. 2019 included 15 events with over two hundred awesome participants! The Big Tuna giant portable press traveled 16,500 road miles. We used 5,400 feet of paper and 40 pounds of ink produced woodblock prints made by artists across the US.  2019 also marks our most well attended event at the Morean Arts Center in St. Petersburg, FL. Over 500 members of the community watched The Big Tuna in action!

The full scope of artistic talent that exists in our world is truly extraordinary. As our fans, participants, and event hosts you make BIG INK possible!  We look forward to working with you in 2020 as we launch this year’s Big Bite Tour and our newest mascot Gnarls the Beaver.  Visit our application page before BIG INK passes you by. Read more about recent happenings below.

Thank you for your support!

An award from the REDC of Southern New Hampshire helped us ring in the decade with a new look! features a brand identity courtesy of HAM Design Studio, information about our Visiting Printer Program, and a online shop.  Our new logo is inspired by the magical moment when a woodblock is printed for the first time.  Another 2020 initiative includes featuring a large-scale woodblock print from our collection each Friday.  We will also highlight participant news on our Facebook and InstagramBIG INK alumni are encouraged to submit news here.


Collaboration and relief printmaking became a recurring theme during the 2019 Boost Your Scale Tour.  This section highlights woodblock prints created with many helping hands!

At the New York State Art Teacher’s Association Conference (NYSATA) in Binghamton, NY, art teachers worked together as a group to design and carve woodblocks. Teachers combined smaller blocks into one large work of art. At the University of Akron, aspiring artists in the college and high school level also used creative teamwork.

At Artspace Raleigh, The Big Tuna printed a woodblock by Kate Mitchell, Katy Collier, Colin Nollet, and Erin Kye. In “Feelings of Home (Soft, Creaky, Made, and Oftentimes Sticky)” illustrated objects spread across a black background and create a wallpaper-like pattern.  The Big Tuna continued printing collaborative woodblocks at Artspace with a 36” x 96” piece created by Scott Ludwig and Nick Osetek. Titled “Propensity for Chaos”, the print combines elements of technology and fine art craft.  The laser-engraved woodblock includes scanned collages and drawings with digital manipulation.

Artists Carve Woodblocks for First Time

2019 marked a year where ambitious participants used BIG INK’s printmaking video tutorials to carve a woodblock for their first time. For many who practice painting, drawing, sculpture, drypoint, linoleum, and other media, relief printing is an ideal art form to explore. Take figurative artist William Paul Thomas, who participated in our Artspace event. In his print, “Paul M. at Ease” Thomas used his experience as a painter to create an expressive portrait influenced by brushstroke textures.  Artist Tedd Anderson also carved his first woodblock for this event.  Anderson’s image, “Crude Coil” retains the graphic boldness associated with his primary medium of pen and ink.

Texas-based husband and wife design team Melvin Thambi and Nimmy Melvin ventured into carving a woodblock for our Pyramid Atlantic Arts Center event in Hyattsville, MD. Thambi’s self-portrait outlined a detailed landscape, while Melvin drew from her painting and drawing background to create a realistic scene of flowers inside a vase.

Big & Intricate Prints

Participants of the Boost Your Scale Tour made big and detailed prints. At the Morean Arts Center in St. Petersburg, FL, artist Tin Lohr carved a 96 by 40 inch realistic scene of wolves running through a nocturnal landscape.  “Marmalade Moon” has a distinct variety of thick marks and tiny dots that form the night stars.

At Pyramid Atlantic Art Center in Annapolis, MD, artist Lujan Perez used an arch design to frame two life-sized figures.  In Perez’s “Y Si No Hoy, Sera Mañana (If Not Today, Tomorrow)” delicate daylilies accentuate a couple’s embrace.  Other artists used scale to enhance their subject matter.  During the Columbus Cultural Arts Center event, Ohio-based scientist and artist Vanessa Sorenson enlarged a sweet gum seed as if it were being observed from inside a microscope.  The sweet gum appears about to spring to life from the image’s borders.

Natural Elements

We printed Jackalopes of huge proportions at Hatch Show Print in Nashville, TN.  Artists Jake Ingram and Sammi Hayes immortalized the mythical creature in different ways.  Ingram’s “In Clover” features an 80″ x 40″ realistic beast, while Hayes “Apparition” illustrates the animal in a desert landscape.  Artist Audrey Mantooth was another participant who used hybrid animals as a subject matter.  Mantooth’s “The Culling,” printed at Red Delicious Press in Aurora, CO, addresses contemporary political themes blended with mythology.

Other participants found inspiration from momento mori artwork.  Participant Gregory Santos designed a human skull that radiated with peacock feathers for our event at Red Delicious Press.  The delicately carved circular feathers highlighted the woodblock’s square composition.  At Columbus Cultural Arts Center, Kaitlynn Radloff‘s flowers, ferns, and moth imagery frames a deer skull still life, while Bobby Rosenstock’s “Carry Me Home” includes two skeletons playing Americana music.

From Florida to Colorado and beyond, we feel incredibly fortunate to work with so many talented, ambitious individuals!

Previously digitizing large-scale prints was a huge endeavor. Our DSLR setup worked but it was time-consuming. Our new large format scanner allows us to digitize artwork to scale with near-perfect color correctness and zero optical distortion.  This is awesome because BIG INK participants will receive even higher quality digital reproductions of their work! We recently scanned over 70 pieces from our Fall tour and the quality is amazing. Even when zoomed in 200% the details stay sharp.

Attention BIG INK Alumni! Are you hankering for more prints from your woodblock?  We have opened our Newmarket, NH studio for one-on-one edition services! Work with Co-Director Lyell Castonguay for the day and print your large-scale woodblock on The Big Tuna press. Information about materials, lodging and more is located here. 

2020 marks a fresh year for upcoming events and call-for-entry deadlines.  The Big Bite Tour features stellar venues from coast to coast and a new mascot named Gnarls.  This eager beaver joins past critter mascots, Squiddy and The Vampire Tiger Tuna, and is immortalized as a woodblock print. Check out the print of Gnarls by Co-Director Lyell Castonguay on our shop page.

Dare to go big like Gnarls and print your large-scale woodblock at art venues in California, Oregon, Georgia, Virginia, and beyond.  No prior experience is required and we encourage emerging, mid-career, and established visuals artists to apply.

Thank you for reading!