Why Block Prints?

I was buying some envelopes for the afore-mentioned  Soar card at the Paper Source, and the woman at the counter asked about the card.  When I  said it was a linocut,  she said she tried that herself, but never could “get it.”  It is hard to get, in some ways.  Really, when you can create the whole style of a woodcut or linocut digitally, without the sloppiness and randomness of hand-printing, why go through the trouble of creating a design, then cutting the design (sometimes multiple versions, if you are doing multi-colored prints) and the aggravation of prints that don’t pull quite as well as you’d like?

For me, a lart part of the appeal is the process.  I work in IT, so I don’t relish the idea of coming home to spend more time on the computer.   I like working analog, with physical objects.  The tackiness of the ink when it’s rolled out onto the block, moving the barren over the paper, the unpredictability of the outcome.  The low-tech approach of hand-made prints is relaxing in its own way.  The level of planning and flexibility that’s required helps keep the focus, because while I can adjust to or correct mistakes, I can’t completely undo them in the real world.

Given the boom of the craft and handmade movement, it seems like I’m not alone in this.  The thing is, I appreciate digital work as well.  But I’ve never been an “out with the old” type, I just add more tools and skills to the pile.  That’s another part of the appeal for me, and I suspect for others, in learning old technologies and processes.  It’s a rejection of the mentality that everything new necessarily has to replace something else.  That’s an idea that I think has cut us off from a lot of great works, especially once some authority declares a movement or a medium dead when it hasn’t even been fully explored.  Ultimately, we all need a chance to slow down and enjoy the work we and others do for its own sake, and stop worrying about being cutting edge.

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