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Meet Julie Cowan of Solid Print Art

Today we’d like to introduce you to Julie Cowan.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Julie. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I work as a printmaker now because of the surprise. You work on the plate with ink and water; you face resistance and acceptance of the ink on the imagery and then you press the whole endeavor through a very powerful press. You never know what is going to come out until you slowly pull back the art paper and see what image marks have transferred from your plate to the artwork. It is thrilling and it is engaging. When I first thought of printmaking, I was living in Prague, it was the early 1990’s. A friend suggested that I print at the studio of a master printer, Tomas Svoboda.

I entered the studio and greeted Tomas, and then worked with him over the next couple of weeks. I worked on a lithography stone, drawing my work with multiple layers of colors. I got spoiled by that experience, because Tomas was a master printer and I was the artist, meaning that I drew the image and he did the printing. I showed him an original colored drawing and the mixed ink to match the colors and then prepared the stone for me to draw. And all this was done without a shared spoken language. No matter, we could both use visual vocabulary to achieve the goal of fine art prints.

Back home in the States, I learned how to use a press myself and I am a fine art printmaker, acting as both printer and artist.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Two important challenges come to mind. First, as a trained graphic and web designer as well as a fine artist, my art practice used to be a very separate place from my commercial work. I did not want to sully the fine art practice with design work. Finally, I accepted that technical skills are useful. It was a glorious epiphany that I could use photographs and manipulated digital images to create art and that it wasn’t somehow “cheating”. This allowed me to change my artistic direction and make work that is larger and more relevant.

The other significant artistic challenge resulted in the creation of a project called “artruck.” As a visual artist, I was constantly looking outward for exhibition opportunities until it dawned on me that I could make it happen myself. I felt empowered to push out my work and the work of others. Artruck is a biannual event where we hold an art show in a couple of rental trucks and have a large exhibition for one night.

Since 2011, the event has taken place 12 times in a street in Evanston. (see http://artruck.org for more information. 30-40 artists show their work in the trucks and a community art gathering takes place. Artruck is a connection point for artists and for people who support the arts, as well as an opportunity to take control and make art visible.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Solid Print Art story. Tell us more about the business.
Solid Print is an art • design • community projects enterprise. For over 20 years, Solid Print was exclusively a graphic/web design firm, but over time I have integrated skills and expertise into a firm with varied outcomes and products, including fine art, design and community projects. My work as Solid Print is comprehensive and flourishing.

Some examples are educational work with kids, like archKIDecture (see http://archKIDecture.org), artruck (see http://artruck.org), fine artwork described here, (see http://solidprint.com/art), graphic design and web design work, and even publisher of a coloring book, (see http://coloringarchitecture.org). I am a generalist with many ideas and skills and with capabilities to make things work.

Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
Luck is a funny one. I crave opportunity and connection and these create an atmosphere for luck. For example, in Prague, seeking an opportunity to learn printmaking, I ended up working with the finest printer in all of Eastern Europe. Similarly, (and to my relief), my design business grew without cold calling because of connections that I nurtured.

And lucky for me that I only went to architecture MFA school for one day, or I would not be in the midst of all of these varied and interesting projects. Of course, I have had my experiences with divorce, disease, and death but who hasn’t?

Pricing:

  • Artwork prices range from approximately $400 for smaller pieces to $4500 for larger pieces

Contact Info:

Getting in touch: VoyageChicago is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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