Merrill Shatzman

I usually dedicate several years to creating a body of work using either silkscreen or relief printing methods, rarely combining the two. I have often thought of these working processes as separate entities, both in the results I achieve, and the methods used in making each type of print. Time dedicated to each medium and body of work has proven worthwhile, as I expand by aesthetics and mark making methods/printing techniques to include digital imaging and the creation of unique images rather than the production of printed editions. My silkscreened images have fully taken advantage of the layering methods available though digital imaging and the printing process, as they are designed using a matrix that unites the different areas and layers of each unique print. After taking my screened images in a variety of different paths and having five related woodblocks cut and ready to print, I spent much of the summer developing a new direction for my relief prints, through using color, applying stenciling methods used in silkscreen and introducing imagery inspired by my passion for Japanese design, gridded architecture/urban planning, patterns and letterforms found in Japanese prints, kimonos and Islamic art.

I spend a lot of time thinking about new work, often sitting on ideas and potential images for a long time, in this case two years, as the woodblocks used in these prints, were cut way before I printed them. During my relief printing hiatus, my images, while still focusing on written forms, have integrated mapping, topography, gridded systems and the relationship of overlaying forms created through these concepts and layering. My imagery has become interchangeable with forms generated from a single source that is being taken in different directions; I then combine parts of the different blocks in unique configurations, blocking out areas of each block through stencils cut for each image. In lieu of my bolder, high-contrast driven black and white woodcuts that I have created in the past, I wanted my new relief prints to embrace the use of layers, color and subtleties found in my screened images. The reductive printing methods and stenciling used in my silkscreens have now made their way into my relief prints.

My change in media and process has opened up a completely new way of working for me, as I am no longer working from a predetermined preparatory image, and instead, letting my images evolve through the printing process. I have also found that I am extending my imagery by creating individual stencils that are matched with the existing image on each print. I am having a blast balancing the precision of my imagery with the unpredictability of my printing process!