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Print Sale Gives the Public a Glimpse Into the Printmaking Process

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

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Written by Caroline Elworthy

Many students are unaware of the flurry of creative activity which takes place in the School of Fine Arts and Music’s Zavitz Hall on a daily basis. This past weekend however, the Print Studio opened their doors and welcomed the general public for the much-anticipated bi-annual student print sale and show. The Print Sale began early on Friday, November 21 and ran for the entirety of the weekend, concluding this past Sunday to coincide with the closing of Fair November.

The Print Sale is a bi-annual exhibition presented by the School of Fine Arts and Music, and is scheduled to coincide with the Fair November weekend in the Fall. The sale has enjoyed immense success over the past 38 years and has become a staple event for students to gradually network clients and develop a sense of recognizable style. The first sale was held in 1976 and has continued since.

Any student who is currently enrolled or has been enrolled within a printmaking course is given the opportunity to display and potentially sell their work. Most prints are available in an edition set, meaning, multiples of the same image printed. Individual prints range in price from $10 for small, one-colour prints and up to $150 for large, multi-coloured. Over 250 original lithographs, intaglio etchings, screen-prints and woodcut reliefs were displayed this weekend, all hand made by aspiring student artists. Out of the profits generated from each individual print, 80 per cent is directly given to the artist while the remaining 30 per cent is directed to SOFAM.

“We strongly encourage students to participate within the sale," Qusays Allen Ash, the print technician at the School of Fine Arts and Music. “It gives students a wonderful opportunity to display their work and gives them the chance to build up a clientele who will return every sale to purchase from a specific artist.”

“Many students go on to sell and exhibit their work elsewhere as they continue within their studies," says Ash. “Student prints at the sale are sold for a fraction of what they will be worth in the future. We had an artist last year who sold his prints at the sale for $250, where they are now being priced for over $1000."  

Jean Maddison, the curator of the Print Study Collection and coordinator of the Printmaking & Computer Graphics department has been helping to facilitate the sale for the past 18 years. An internationally recognized and exhibited artist, Maddison learned printmaking techniques from the Royal College of Art in London and now teaches various print courses at Guelph.

According to Maddison, the sale this past weekend raised over $4000. Over the past eight years it has been estimated that over $60000- $70000 in total sales.

“The print sales are a long standing tradition and have been held – very successfully for the students involved for over 40 years," says Maddison. “Students gain valuable experience in pricing their work for the marketplace and the satisfaction of selling their own work.”

The sale is a completely student-run, volunteer initiative. In order to participate within the sale, students must commit to working at the sale for a minimum of a four hour shift. Out of the profits generated from the sale, 80 per cent is directly given to the individual artist, while the remaining 30 per cent is directed to the School of Fine Arts and Music, which then utilizes the remaining sum to fund the Bachinski-Chu Print Study Collection.

This Collection was initiated in 1968 to grant students at the University of Guelph the opportunity to have first-hand experience with historic and contemporary fine art prints. The collection now holds over 250 original prints and has been primarily funded by the proceeds of the student print sale. Included within the collection are works by such important Canadian artists as Alex Colville, Michael Snow and Joyce Wieland. Furthermore, there are also works by international artists such as Albrecht Durer, Francisco Goya, Rembrandt, Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, David Hockney and Damien Hirs

The sale held in the Winter semester is scheduled to coincide the annual Juried Art Show and College Royal. The Juried Art Show will be entering it’s 46 year this coming March, and is a student-run art exhibition throughout Zavitz Hall. Recognized artists are invited to act as guest jurors and a top prize of $1000 is given to a selected student. The Juried Art Show is the largest student-run art show in Ontario and attracts a huge crowd of future graduate students, curators and recognized artists who make the journey to Guelph to view over 150 student works which are installed throughout Zavitz and Alexander Hall.

Printmaking is an expensive and time consuming process. Each print displayed this weekend has been painstakingly worked on, the majority of prints consume a minimum of 8 hours to produce . The specially manufactured paper which is used to produce the prints upon costs on average about $3.50 a sheet, and when an entire print edition will require an average of ten sheets, it can become a heavy price for students to shoulder and one that is not subsidized by SOFAM. The sale offers a perfect opportunity for students to attempt to break-even the hundreds of dollars spent each semester. As the studio was open for students to work on prints during the sale hours, it offered an excellent learning environment for the public to become aware of the multi-step process of creating a seamless print.

“Students handle the money, engage with the buyers and inform the public how many of the prints have been produced. There is a wonderful atmosphere, crowds of eager visitors and we endeavor to make the event as enjoyable as possible.” Maddison says on the long tradition of Print Sales at the University, “People return year after year, and their support is very encouraging for the students. Engaging with the public, teaching them about Printmaking and receiving some money for your prints is very positive feedback.” 

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