For my final year of my BFA, I undertook an 8 month project that related to my summer job at a pulp mill.
Inspired by WPA images from USA in the 1930s, I put a twist on posters that are hung as safety reminders. My regular work at the mill was to take care of all the landscaping. The times I was tasked with doing other roles, they tended to be mainly doing "hole watch" where you make sure carbon monoxide and other gasses don't get too high. During those days, I was able to sketch my surroundings inside the machines for processing pulp and paper.
The first image of the series was "Use Eye Protection".
The location was an exact spot that I had sketched during a hole watch session. Safety equipment was key to the job even when just sitting watching nothing. For some of the prints a real location was used but others I relied on memory, photographs and sketches.
Elk Falls Pulp and Paper Mill was closed in 2010 but provided over fifty years of employment for summer students.
I needed to come up with eight images, one a month, for my final year of my BFA. The first image promoting eye protection came the easiest. The hand-drawn and printed lithograph process is time- and energy-consuming. The preparation of a stone is a task in itself. Take a look at the process.
Sketches, that I'll dig up at some point, were done to get the composition. Then I drew the key line on semi-transparent vellum. This would be the guide to all the layers of color. I wanted to have very defined areas without any cross-over of tones.
The lettering had to be drawn in reverse on the stone so that it would print onto the paper properly. One mistake in any area of the drawing and printing could put a whole month's work in the trash.
Being too graphic was a concern. The gas for "Wear Proper Respiratory Gear" was a green that was close to neon.
The wording of the statement had to be clear but, at the same time, not repetitious to the series.
When there wasn't a tool or piece of safety equipment to mitigate the risk, another way to show the "fix" had to be envisioned.
I also had to attempt not to repeat the background colors. As I neared the seventh and eighth prints, it got harder.
Once the year was over and all the images were printed, I went back to the pulp mill and gave some images to the workshops and the tourist center. I kick myself that I didn't get any photos of the prints being shown in the context that they were most related to.
While doing my internship at a publishing group in Southern California, somehow an editor at Powder magazine saw the series and wanted to publish one a month. The problem was that they had ten issues in a volume, but I had only eight available. So I came up with two more, but they were done with ink and watercolor. Since they were being printed at a fairly small size, how they were made didn't have a big effect.
Once I find the magazines in storage, I'll post them.
When I see the images, I can be transported to both my time at the mill and the hours spent creating the lithography.
I'll be putting the work up on society6 piece by piece.
Link to the print
Link to the tee