Steamroller Printing with Magnetic North

This past weekend was the 2017 Portland Letterpress Printers Fair! Artists from all over Portland gathered at the Redd building in southeast Portland to share their craft, support the arts, and have a good time!

One of the main draws to the event is the steamroller printing. Studios entered to create these massive linocut stencils, which are then printed on 4×4 pieces of paper using a real steamroller! These prints are then raffled off with proceed benefitting the Portland Printmakers Alliance. (I bought 12 tickets.)

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Massive linocut by the artists at Magnetic North! (Photo courtesy of Walker Cahall)

All week I’d been stopping by Magnetic North, sometimes with planned meetings to see Walker, sometimes completely unannounced. Great people. So when I saw Walker’s picture of the final massive linocut, I knew this was going to be something special. This was sparking my creativity, how should I say, “bigly?”

This is Portland. We make art, rain or shine. For a little while at the beginning of Magnetic North’s printing session, the rain came down, so the canopies went up. It might have even hailed. But it was short lived, and in a matter of no time, we were back up and printing.

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A little rain wasn’t going to stop the steamrolling!

The first color the team decided to use for their print was green. (Great choice in my opinion.) Everybody chipped in with a roller, making sure the ink is nice and even.

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Green was the first color used.

Chances are, the paint may have been a little thick on the first one, but look at how pretty it was!

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Make sure you don’t miss a spot!

Once the linocut was properly inked, you move it over and place it on the plywood guide. The blue tape is for the linocut, the yellow tape is for the paper. You put a cloth over the top so the paper doesn’t get dirty or damaged.

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Laid down on the plywood guide to ensure the steamroller delivers an even press!

Look at all the detail, too! I love the succulents theme. It works great with the green, too!

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Looks centered to me!

Once everything was lined up, it was time to bring in the steamroller. Sadly, I was not allowed to drive the steamroller, or even get remotely close to the driver’s seat. It was an absolute blast to watch, and I have to admit, it’s a pretty sweet way to make large prints.

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The steamroller!

Once the paper is peeled up, you’ve got a beautiful finished product! Thanks boys!

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Successful round of printing!

The prints get put off to the side to dry, to be raffled off later!

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Setting the print to dry!

After we did a couple rounds of printing with the green, it was time to switch to black.

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After a few rounds of green ink, the team switched to black.

If there’s any extra paint on the guide or on the tape around the linocut, it could get on the paper and smudge. We had to take a quick break to scrub off some excess ink with acetone.

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Touch ups!

All clear!

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In order to keep the paper from slipping, we applied tape to the paper. Smart move!

How about a time-lapse?

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Look at that pressure!

The best part about the whole steamrolling process is peeling up the print at the end. You never know what could go wrong (or right) under the press, so the final reveal is always a blast to watch.

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Peeling up the print is so cool!

Here’s that beautiful finished product!

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Beautiful final print!

As of the publishing of this post, I did not win the raffle and have yet to acquire my own print from the awesome linocut! Nevertheless, I was incredibly inspired by the creativity I saw from all the vendors at the fair and from all the prints being made and sold.

So much fun! Can’t wait to go back next year!

CHE

P.S. I want a steamroller! #bucketlist

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Writer’s Block

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“Fuck this.” – me, ten minutes after I sit down to write.

I’m seriously constipated, and I’m not talking about the post-box-of-flavor-blasted-goldfish kind of way. Creatively, I can’t get anything out of my brain onto paper. Not even utter crap. So, in a feeble attempt to break through this literary lockup I’m experiencing, I’m going to break this egg open with a little Q&A.

Lack of inspiration? I have multiple story ideas and outlines for screenplays, but for some reason I’m not truly moved by any of them. They’re great stories too; friendship in prison, killer honey from a drug-dealer’s beehive, a patriotic caddy, cab drivers on the day of a disaster. We’re talking good shit! For some reason I can’t sit down and dig into the stories. Despite the fascinating plots, I do feel slightly disconnected from them. I’ve never been to prison, I haven’t cultivated honey (or drugs), and I’m terrible at golf. This shouldn’t really be a barrier though, because previously I’ve written stories well beyond my own personal experiences. Is this separation really enough to break my confidence?

Spread too thin? I have so many projects in early infancy that occasionally I feel that my time would be spent better on one of my other projects then my writing. The opportunity cost of writing is developing new shows for the Mystery Tin Podcast Network, marketing and promoting Dinner’s Ready!, designing new card games for Mystery Tin Games, building a brand for someone else, taking online classes, and binge watching the latest season of House of Cards. Prioritizing these projects in terms of direct ROI would most likely help me cross them off my list in the short term, and eliminate my decision fatigue on what to do when I sit down to work.

Antisocial network? Some websites say that one potential cause of writer’s block is that you don’t have a solid support group of people willing to read your writing. The same goes with blogging and social networks. If you’re not feeling supported by the community, you won’t feel confident to put your work out there. While I can relate to this feeling, I’ve had it on a handful of occasions, right now I think I’ve got a great network of friends and confidantes that are willing to read my work… when they get the time, of course.

Fear? Honestly, fear is the most likely candidate. During this break from writing, I’ve made some new writer friends, and we’ve had some really insightful conversations. Their perspectives and arguments are thoughtful, which leads me to assume their writing is equally engaging and thought provoking. Is mine? This negative mindset is commonly referred to among writers as “the imposter syndrome;” the fear of being exposed as a fraud. I’m fearful that even I will have been fooled by the imposter and I am really not a good writer.

Slowly but surely, blogging is helping me break through the writer’s block, but even this article took three hours to think of and nearly an hour to write. I need to find my way back to the early morning writing sessions, the stories that can’t leave my thought process, and the self-confidence that comes with finishing a story you’re proud of. To me, that’s the joy of writing.

Hey writer friends! Have any suggestions on getting over this block?

CHE

The Person I’m Pretending To Be

“You are what you pretend to be.” – Kurt Vonnegut

tumblr_nzok6g7MX41rt7qgbo1_500At this point in my life, I’m doing a serious amount of introspection. At 30 years old, I feel like I’m caught in the first of my life’s major crossroads; there’s the person I currently am at 30 years old, the person I thought I would be at 30 years old, and the person I want to be after 30. For whatever reason, some people my age have given up on becoming the person they wanted to be and have been forced to settle into the existence of the person they’ve become. I fully recognize those two perspectives of myself are vastly different, but rather than dwell on those differences (and personal failures), I’m still mainly focused on the third road: becoming the person I want to be.

Some established businessmen (like Mark Cuban) may refer to me as a “want-repreneur.” While I was initially offended by this title (think “poser” of businessmen) I eventually realized that while somewhat patronizing, it’s also a truthful badge of honor about where I am in the process. I am, by every definition, a “want-repreneur,” mostly because I don’t believe my purpose on this planet is to help somebody else actualize their dreams while my own lay dormant. I want to be in control of my own destiny, and ultimately, that means being in charge of my financial gain and work situation. In the meantime, I have to make the best of my need for a consistent paycheck, so I work a day job.

The person I want to be will travel the world and experience different cultures. While the experiences of traveling are hard to “fake,” the desire, motivation, and information I can collect about all the places I want to go, and live, are more easily available then they’ve ever been before. I may not be able to go to Bali later this month, but in the meantime, I can do research into the local communities, see pictures and videos of people visiting Bali, learn about the local cuisine, and pick up tips on places to stay in order to make the traveling experience truly unique. When I get to wherever I want to be, I want it to feel like home. That’s the life I want. I won’t lie to you about where I’ve been (New Zealand!), but I also won’t lie about how badly I want to go to the exotic places I haven’t been yet. (I wanna go to Chile really bad!)

Then there’s money. I’m definitely living paycheck-to-check, but that doesn’t stop me from occasionally picking up a round of drinks. My true desire is to be affluent to a point of actualized creativity. I think there’s an important line to draw here when it comes to “how rich do you want to be?” I don’t want to be rich enough to have 12 sports cars, rather I want to be rich enough to buy all the pieces, and the personal time, to build my own sports car. I don’t want to eat out at restaurants every night, I want to cook at home with the freshest, best ingredients! I don’t want to be rich enough to put people down, I want to be rich enough to pick people up. I don’t want to be rich enough to have priceless art on my walls, I want to be rich enough to make art whenever the inspiration strikes me. That’s priceless. The type of affluence I am striving for is the freedom to create art without boundaries or limitations, until then, I’m having hot ramen for lunch.

But what about happiness? I truly believe sometimes “pretending” is super important when it comes to happiness. If you let every little speed bump knock you around, you would never drive your car. If you let every little conflict, every difference of opinion, every squabble redirect the entire course of your day (and happiness), you will never ever be happy. But if you “pretend” you’re happy, even when you’re not, the low-points won’t seem all that low. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not advocating that you turn into an over-positive psychopath or something, but positivity breeds positivity. Give yourself some perspective and realize all the good in your life. That should make you happy… just a little bit?

So, until that time when I am where I want to be, I will have to follow Vonnegut’s wisdom and just pretend. This post may have pulled back my curtain a little bit, but honestly, I don’t mind. Outside of this post, however, in the real world’s meetings and social gatherings, I will continue to do what I have to do to be perceived as the successful entrepreneur, traveler, intellectual, and financially flush guy to live a great life and create the spur-of-the-moment art as I please. In maintaining that facade of control, the right opportunity may one day present itself to me.

That day, I won’t be pretending… I’ll just be me.

CHE

All “Work” and No “Play”

When I get fired up about something, it’s hard to stop me. Unless, of course, it’s with something else that I should be equally or even more fired up about. That’s just the way I am. Creative momentum is by far my best tool when it comes to getting projects finished, but this can also be my greatest downfall… no shit, right? (So can we leave that discussion for another time? Gee, thanks MOM.)

This year I’ve been working on a number of PROJECTS that were at the top of my priority list at one time or another, but the good news is that they are beginning to wind up! My goal is to post more regularly on TheMysteryTin, including updates on all these projects:

Screenwriting. I’ve revised two of my previous screenplays: Love & Krylon and The Chessboard Killer (https://blcklst.com/members/scripts/view/26894) and posted them on The Black List. They received mostly good reviews, but I was eager to get back into the story generation, so last week I started another feature length screenplay with the hopes of finishing it early this summer. (Spoiler alert: I’m going to submit one of these three to the Austin Film Festival later this month.)

I’ve been working on an App for a non-profit organization I am associated with. For obvious reasons, I’m not going to tell you too much about it other than the fact it is a cute mobile game and in the very early stages of development. I’m smart enough to know that I’ve pretty much hit the ceiling of my abilities on this one, so if you are interested in joining my app project, reach out to me, I’d love to get you involved. It’s for a great cause, I swear!

tumblr_njxtqpR0PS1rt7qgbo1_500Lacrosse season is in full swing at Calabasas High School so that’s been taking a majority of my energy and focus. We’re practicing and playing games five days a week, which requires creating practice plans for both teams (JV and Varsity), running the two hour practices or four-hour game days, and a cumulative daily commute time of around 2.5 hours. That’s right, I commute 125 miles per day. 625 miles per week. My car is on 195,000 miles. You do the math, how am I looking?

Regardless, I’m doing my best to use that commuting time productively, so I’ve jumped head first into the world of podcasts. I’ve been a longtime listener of Scriptnotes, but lately I’ve added the likes of Serial, Start Up, On The Page, The Tim Ferriss Show, Gamechanger Lacrosse and TedTalks with a handful of other single episodes on everything from Fidel Castro to cooking and extraterrestrials. Podcasting is a triumphant return to aural storytelling and it’s only getting bigger!

So I started thinking about my own experiences. I have my B.A. in Music. I produced music (and once a radio story hour) in college. I used to have a recording booth in my bedroom and when I was 19 years old I started a record label. I’m pretty sure I still have a few of my own mixing boards and cables, maybe even a microphone or two! It is totally within my wheelhouse to produce a podcast, I thought to myself. When I asked around about the idea of podcasts, I was surprised to hear that a few of my friends were also interested in podcasting. Sounded like the right time to step up my podcast game. MORE ON THIS SOON! (True story, this idea sparked long before I found out about the Start Up podcast. #justsaying)

On an artistic front, I’ve started assembling an art book. Now, now, before you rush to judgments, just hear me out, then feel free to think whatever you want. The book, still untitled, will be “the paper trail of an exploration through artistic media.” Photographs, writings, puzzles, sheet music, computer coding text, cartoons, and handwritten notes. An amalgam of creativity. I think it’s gonna turn out really cool!

tumblr_nkcdhfTT9k1rt7qgbo1_500And perhaps the most important area of my attention, I have been spending time working on my relationship. Being in a long-distance relationship is hard, requiring more work, commitments, and sacrifices than the average blossoming dating relationship. Texting and phone calls are critical and absolutely required. We both find ourselves driving up and down the state of California just to spend a few days and nights together. We calendar out the next weekend we get to see each other. It’s tough and emotionally trying at times. It won’t always be like this, summer is coming soon, but right now, as difficult as it may be, it’s completely worth it to me. I’m totally hooked on her.

So, with all these hot irons going, how do I find time to “play?”

I’m not really sure, but I manage somehow.

CHE