right now!     ian g. cozzens updates, news, photos, and thoughts

the show is up!

November 6, 2013 at 3:21 am

… after four and a half relatively brutal days (and some long nights in there) of installation work. I cut a ton of pieces of glass to put the art behind, I hammered in almost 400 L-pins to hold the glass (and prints) to the wall, I began to understand why people *frame* art (cause once you frame it once you never have to frame it again!!!), I depended on my friends, especially Scott, for help & support… I felt more professional than ever before, and also very much like a force of chaos in the desirably-predictable space of the gallery… and not in a cool disruptive gadfly way like when AO & I were working on the Magic City Repairs project, but in the way where I was letting people down… if that makes any sense?


BUT! It all* got up on the wall, despite (or because of?) the chaos; it looks very professional (I think/ I am still surprised by), and I really hope you will come to the….


free & open to the public, wheelchair accessible, etc, as a public institution all places should be. Catered! food! drink! (no wine though since it’s a university? or somethin’? bring your flask if you wanna, I guess). Thursday November 7th, 4:30-7:30 pm, University of Rhode Island Fine Arts Center, 105 Upper College Rd, Kingston RI.

please come & join the party & check out what I spent 13 years of my life on!

People are coordinating some rides from Providence on the facebook event page, if you’re not on facebook & need a ride, email me & I’ll connect you to somebody. You can also take the 66 bus from Kennedy Plaza, it seems to run about every hour… If you can get down there, someone will probably be able to drive you back to Prov afterwards, as a last resort you can climb in the back of Scott’s van….!


(This is the front of the postcard that I made, featuring many of my favorite tools…)

*(The only things still missing from the gallery walls, in my mind, are some photos that are necessary to give context to the paper ephemera from the Magic City Repairs project… photos which I don’t have physical prints of yet. In thinking about this, I realized that I haven’t gotten a physical print made of a photo since I stopped taking pictures with film, which is strange… but I’m gonna go to CVS tomorrow to remedy that situation, hopefully I have a chance to sneak in with a hammer & level before Thursday afternoon!)

The funny thing was, when we started to actually get all the artwork up in place, my first thought was “it’s like looking at my website, but all at once and without having to click on links”. I’m not even gonna try to figure out what that means in terms of how much the internet has colonized my brain, I’ll just leave it there… and I really haven’t processed the surrealness of having all this work, each piece of which has defined and shaped my life in its own way, up in the same physical space. It’s surreal. I don’t know what more to write about it than that — I’m still pretty sleep-deprived… !

Here’s a moment from the hanging process, this is the “recent work” wall, which is (parts of) 2012-2013, in progress… (and yes, “Queer Buttz” did make it into the show…)


Here are some screenshots of the spreadsheets that I made to organize the many (I haven’t counted yet) pieces of work for the show, and that will hopefully help me to put everything back in its correct place when it’s time to take it down…

October 27th at midnight:07:47 AM:

spreadsheet 1

a detail of another screenshot around the same moment:


… and then, November 1st at 2:53:54 AM:

spreadsheet 2

and here are the same documents (or a selection of the information thereon) in action, as reference documents for cutting the glass to go over the prints:


Here’s the *back* of the postcard that got printed (the yellow/orange image above up there is the front); I’m proud of all this hand-drawn text (from the poster) used as computer text, even though that in itself was a project & a half….


And here is the 4-foot-wide text on the gallery wall, I traced my scans of the knife-cut-paper letters into vectors & then it got computer-cut by some place out of a plastic fabric / sticker stuff… looks so cool, doing the vector work is physically difficult for me cause the tablet I have is old & it’s strenuous to hold the pen (because it’s wide in diameter, I think…)… but it’s cool to see my hand-drawn letters so big! Yay for vectors? maybe? It’s so not-fun to make them but… well… they’re useful…!?


That’s it! gotta keep working on some spreadsheet stuff tonight! Tomorrow I teach the second class of my AS220 class (on their website it’s marked as “sold out” for now, but there will be another one in January 2014!). Thursday the opening! Then hustling to finish up Craftland stuff! and to move my woodshop stuff out of Building 16… and you know, just to get everything done… whatever…

cutting up nice things

October 16, 2013 at 6:58 pm

Finally I get my act together to make some three dimensional letters. This has been a written-down goal on the list for about 3 years now.

Three-dimensional letters, version one:

  • freehand-cut slightly ‘wacky’ letters out of overlapping test print
  • cut meticulous z-axis part out of screenprinted paper, with lots of lil tabs, tiny folds, & vigorous cursing
  • glue z-axis part to back of letter with white glue, toothpick, bone folder, and more cursing
  • glue traced/cut copy of letter (out of orange paper) to the back of the z-axis part to complete ‘box’ of letter
  • realize they look cooler incomplete, also this is taking WAY too darn long, so leave a bunch incomplete (for now)





three-dimensional letters, version two:

  • take an old print of which you have a lot of non-edition/”slightly messed up” copies that have been sitting around in the studio for 3+ years
  • cut letters out of it, slice slice! selecting for cool color/pattern moments
  • use a little template card to get the angle and widths consistent, curves are by eye/hand
  • cut up a lot of cardboard pieces, don’t cut yourself or hurt your wrist, ok?
  • stack stack stack!


(template guy, knife for scale)





rapid update

October 11, 2013 at 8:09 am

Remember the beginnings of this guy? It’s finally getting done, I hope!


Detail of layer 2 (actually the first printed layer, but begun 5 months after what will be the second printed layer) in progress, this is rapidograph on wet media acetate:


Hopefully I’ll have some of these ***finished*** at the RISD Fall Alumni Art Sale, this coming Saturday October 12th, on Benefit St. in Providence between 10am & 4pm… I’m going to get some sleep this time so I can be coherent & friendly… Come say hi!

Also, thanks to the late night internet and Printeresting for this encapsulation of my life recently:


Okay, back to it!

queers edition // art sale today!

May 4, 2013 at 2:06 am

Via grainy cellphone camera, the finished colorways of the QUEERS! editions. As seen in progress here and decision-making process discussed here. Finally done, after being promised / procrastinated on for two+ years!


I’ll be at the RISD Alumni Art Sale ***today***, Saturday May 4th (10a-4p, Benefit St. & Waterman St. in Providence) with these brand new guys, the new-ish “dissonance” script-font prints that were in the show, the new-ish colorways of the “complexity” manifesto print (and a couple copies of this purple/orange/gold one), the Recycle-A-Bike prints, with their cool silkscreen duotone, that I finished last year but somehow haven’t posted a completed image of until now….. and lots of other stuff! Tabling with Sam Merritt of Double Vision Embroidery who is super cool.

We’ll be accepting “credit cards” via a borrowed “mobile digital device” — your favorite Luddite screenprinting grandpa dips a toe gingerly into the 21st century…


Okay gotta run & finish the last stuff! See you soon! Wish me luck with sleepin’ tonight!

this is what a decision looks like

January 6, 2013 at 5:15 am

So I still need to actually mix & refine these colors, but here you can see the evidence that a set of decisions that I procrastinated on for almost two years has now been more or less made, over the course of the past seven or so hours!!!

sheets of paper with color notes and color swatches

I made 30 of these “Queers!” prints about two years ago and it was super fun to make them because I totally played around with the colors while printing them and no two of them were alike. This is from an unfinished blog post about them from April 2011, that was gonna be titled “not making multiples”:

… In any case, for me it is difficult to part with the objects of the world. I am now able to throw boogers, napkins, paper cups, and most things that other folks would consider actual trash into the trash! However, there are some odd folders and containers in my room/studio, of things that most people might not save: “lists”, “paper rulers” (little measuring strips I use in making drawings, that no longer have a purpose once the drawing is done, but while it was in process, they were tools that I touched thousands of times), “ephemera” (neat packaging), “pins I used to wear on my jacket” (that’s a good one, right?), “broken cups & bowls that have a sentimental value”, etc etc…

As someone who makes objects and then the objects go away from me, multiples are an easy thing to deal with emotionally, because they never have to leave me completely — I always have one left of each kind. I usually don’t sell my drawings; I’ve done it a couple of times, and probably will to a greater extent in the future, but I actually miss the ones I have sold and think about them relatively frequently. I know that the sold drawings are framed and loved and on someone’s wall somewhere, as opposed to hidden in a drawer in a flat file, and that is great to know. But… when I think of their lines and spaces, remembering the process of drawing them, I do wonder, with a certain sadness, if I will ever see them again.

… and I was going to write further about how the stress of parting with the individual unique prints was mitigated by how awesome of a time I’d had printing them.

However, even as I was making the unique “Queers!” prints, I knew I wanted to make some multiples of them too — in order to have some that I could distribute on the internet and sell for a cheaper price (the uniqueness of each one, and initially selling them through a ‘real gallery’, had pushed me to set the price kinda high). I had decided to make four different colorways… BUT I didn’t want to replicate exactly any of the colorways in the initial group… BUT I wanted to learn from the earlier color relationships as well… and that was in February, 2011.

So what happened today? First I decided not to procrastinate on this project anymore — which I can credit partly to having a deadline and partly to recently being back on medication for attention deficit disorder. Mental health care — it’s pretty crucial! First I made tests swatches of a bunch of different transparent colors that I had in the studio (previous post). Then I looked at the remaining original prints in complete confusion for about an hour or so. I finally wrote down some anecdotal notes on the color interactions… then realized I could consolidate those notes into a semi-analytical observation of what the different colors were doing in each of the original prints that I had a photo of (about half of them — thanks to photographer Pam Murray — having digital images & being able to flip through them on the computer screen really helped!). Then I looked back at my test swatches and thought about what I wanted to have happen in the four different prints, colorwise… and then through making notes and moving the swatches around, I was able to pick out, roughly, some colors that would make those dynamics happen.

paper with colored ink on it, paper with graphical diagram of color relationships

What began as a “super fun let’s play with colors yayyy” experimental project in early winter 2011, became a looming, terrifying “oh my gosh what colors am I going to use for these four editions what if they are not as good as the first ones uhhhhhngh” decision that stressed me out to the point of completely avoiding it for almost two years, and then turned into a “well I have to get this done this week!” necessary decision process. The strategy that allowed me to sneak up on the decision was making a bunch of grids & diagrams to “make sure” that I was making the “right” decision. Ultimately the crucial moments of working were just moving little tabs of color around on the table, noting down things about their roles & relationships that the charts had allowed me to understand, but really just looking at them together. Then suddenly I was able to look up & say to my housemate, “Hey, I think I just finished making this decision which I put off for two years, huh!”.

table with strips of paper, ink containers, and diagrams on it

I harnessed the momentum of that decision into another one — the two central colors here will (more or less) be the background colors for the two colorways of the “dissonance” print…

a selection of color swatches

…which you can see a very initial sketch for here, from back in July (also including my legs in Conanicut Island midsummer mode, beet-pickle juice was involved):

sketchbook balanced on knees of bare legs on a picnic blanket, with the word "dissonance" partly written on the open page


oh cleanup

May 15, 2012 at 12:37 am

I realized my room/studio (where I draw) is messy to the point of being un-usable. As in, it’s hard to stay in there & I feel like all the piles are going to fall down on me when I try to work at the desk. Which is the drawing place, the place where it should be really enjoyable to spend time because drawing is the most fun part of my work… right? So why is this place the most intimidating / feels the most precarious of any place in my house??? And, even worse, how long has it felt this way without me articulating it as such?

No pictures, it’s too embarrassing / sensitive. Now I’m wrapped up in cleanup / hopeful paradigm shift for my workspace. And things unrelated to work are going great! Even this cleanup hopefully signals/echoes the start of some new times & a different relationship to the physical scenario around me… will check in in a day or two with cleanup update… if I don’t get buried under piles… !

oof, logistical difficulties

April 14, 2012 at 11:11 pm

Hey, this website and server friends Meg Turner & Chris Monti are finally back after a while out of commission having been taken over by a wordpress virus. :C (super sad face.) Now I’m doing some serious server maintenance/cleanup with the help of generous tech whiz Chris Erway, & I’m also updating the old wordpress installations featuring my brother Rich’s projects from a couple of years ago: Iraqi Stories (travelogue) and Abu Wilyam (his notes on Damascene culture & language interactions – no link since not quite updated yet!)… at the same time as I’m doing business accounting & my taxes! BLURGH

Also I’m wrapped up in other logistics: organizing events & conversations around town, non-art things that involve other personal progress & are pretty logistical… Also I’m working on some posters, one majorly overdue, one just on time! And I’ll be selling prints & postcards with the above-mentioned Meg Turner at the RISD Alumni spring sale on May 5th. Possibly that’s it? but it feels like a lot.

Anyways, glad to be back & present on this corner of the internet. At the top is a picture of me with Albert, my downstairs neighbor’s cat who disappeared a week ago… :C (super sad face again, sadder than the dumb internet stuff…) If you see this guy, pick him up & bring him back!

snapshot jams

February 15, 2012 at 11:55 am

Peer-pressured intimidated inspired by a bunch of 17-to-22-yr-olds (& some older folks) I know who are super active & self-expressive on their tumblr blogs, I re-started mine.

I’m still mostly using it as a snapshot collection as opposed to an internet-bookmarking visual-hunting neat-stuff aggregator. You’ll see a lot of buildings, letterforms, punks, queers, cats, kitchens, light & shadows, manhole covers & other ‘street metal’, process work, and other sights seen… I think the “stuff I like” part at the bottom is going to be my collection of other people’s images…

BUT we’ll see where it goes…

leading with the edge

October 12, 2011 at 4:10 pm

Your long-absent correspondent is very much alive over here in Providence. Summer happened, I helped at my friends’ farm every weekend (except when I went traveling to the south for three weeks), I rode my bike a lot, I met and hung out with amazing people, had really good conversations, had some experiences that were pretty transformational, lived my life: it was totally wonderful.

Then it got chilly, then we had one final weekend of hot weather, now the temperature is dropping by 10 degrees every day and the Buio cat is curled up in a tight little ball & it looks like Fall is For Real. Which means that it’s not time to stop living life, or time to stop being wonderful: it’s just a time for doing work & getting serious & wearing sweaters & buckling down to the task(s) at hand. Also I’m broke so it’s convenient that now there is much less temptation to go on long bike rides or hang out on rooftops or talk late into the night next to bonfires…

I just put up a big re-organizational update to the main Secret Door Projects website.

I did most of the work on this re-organization back in February and March, to get to show some different priorities & new directions that my work has taken since 2007 when I first made the SDP website… so there are new sections for comics & zines, fonts I’ve drawn, a “practice & process” section grouping process work & creative practice stuff together… and also a thing with a little bit about my gender identity & the fact that my name is now Ian!

It took me so long to put this update up because I was attempting to write all my family members actual paper letters about my gender stuff & name shift. This was totally overwhelming (I have a lot of cousins & second cousins) & I ultimately realized I was being held back professionally & creatively by not being able to be out — as trans and as Ian — on facebook & on the internet. It surprised me how much I felt like I was existing as a partial person, not being able to be be consistent & public about my name & my gender & identity…

So… unsurprisingly maybe, my cousins, aunts, & uncles did not all get letters from me yet… but I went ahead and changed my name on facebook (personal page, art page) and put up the giant website update. To my family who may be reading this (and anybody else who is confused), I’m sorry for the lack of more personal communication… but I’ll see you soon & we can talk about it then. Real quick: I identify as a boy (also occasionally as a man!), I use “he” pronouns, my name is Ian Gilpin Cozzens, I’m a queer which means (among other things) that I’m not interested in assimilating to any idea of the ‘normal’ in the realms of desire or gender identity… and I love you.


— ian c.

…from my travels…

oh also now that things are more consistent for me on the internet, you can probably expect more regular updates of this page here… and I’ll probably be writing about gender & identity & stuff too… we’ll see how it goes.

too busy for documentation

December 5, 2010 at 9:10 pm

Yesterday, the fabulous Muffy Brandt told me about her new tactic for artistic professionalism: “I can’t make anything new until I have taken a picture of the thing I just made and posted it on the internet”. I don’t think that that’s exactly the right strategy for me, but the conversation gave me the kick in the pants to finally update these updates. Yikes!

so…I’m gonna make a list of what I have been up to, maybe for a little bit of bragging rights, but mostly just to note or record for myself that I have indeed been involved in worthwhile activity! (and/or because of Umberto Eco’s rationale about why we make lists…)

Some of this stuff will get more elaborate updates, with more photos, sometime soon… but for now, here’s the brief rundown.

  • came back from Pittsburgh to roll straight into a solid month of finishing the Dave Cole / Unreal City print. (Aug-Sept)
  • unreal city final screen

  • visited New Orleans really briefly (early Sept) and was frustrated by my clumsiness at drawing things I saw around me. Time to get practicin’!
  • curated & organized a print show of twelve Providence (and related) printmakers, titled “Pattern Factory”, at the Bushwick Print Lab in NYC. (Sept)
  • bushwick print lab show

  • finally bit the bullet and wrote the final report for the grant I got for the second year of the New Your City project… three years late! Interestingly enough, the long-term perspective allowed me to write a more interesting report — the kids at the library have been asking for the past three years when they are gonna be able to build a city again, so librarian Ann and another local artist have applied for another grant for the purpose! Cross your fingers for them! (end of Sept)
  • went down to New York, hung the Bushwick show, went to Dave’s opening at Dodge Gallery (which the Unreal City print was commissioned for), then hosted (collaboratively with other Prov folks) an all-day art show opening which involved seven hours of live screenprinting…! (early Oct)
  • printing on t-shirts!

  • participated in the RISD alumni fall art sale, with Meg Turner… (also early Oct)
  • worked on stuff for the holiday version of Craftland, making a little bit of new print work as well as awesome tiny lined-paper notebooks! (mid-Oct)
  • notebook covers:
    many variations…

  • after a year plus of discussion and distraction (on my part), the awesome Ann and Evan of “risd|works” finally tied it down: I’m very proud to have selected prints of mine available in their shop!
  • gathered a couple of friends in my studio to teach a quick two-day workshop on multi-color transparent layer screenprinting, as a practice session for teaching a longer class in New Orleans. (late Oct)
  • working…
    working on rubylith

    the final (or at least preliminary) results!
    the results

  • celebrated my birthday with a backyard fire & lots of Yacht Club orange soda! (Oct 29th, scorpiooo!!!)
  • flew to New Orleans and stayed there for almost the whole month of November, teaching what ended up being a six-day class on advanced silkscreen techniques, specifically rubylith-stencil making and transparent color layering, at the Louisiana ArtWorks Community Printshop. I was so proud to be working with a number of people who are active volunteer members / monitors at the printshop — these people are in the shop every day printing anyways, and so it was great to be able to seed their already prolific creative practices with some new techniques and strategies and materials… and to see them throw what they were learning immediately into action… delightful! (November)
  • preliminary pencil drawings, separating an image into layers:
    hannah’s drawing

    cutting rubylith:
    will’s rubylith

    looking at different color versions of a final print:
    kitty’s prints

    I encouraged the learners to test print *before* their rubyliths were finished — this is a not-quite-finished but still awesome stage:
    rachel’s birds

  • while in New Orleans, I also:: worked on some drawings of letterforms for future text-only prints, participated in the New Orleans Bookfair, showed my work in “Editions At Dawn”, a group show of LAW printshop members and teachers, collaborated with Meg on a poster (finally)!!!!!, biked around a lot, drew, cut rubylith, built an awkward-looking-but-quite-effective light fixture in the printshop to allow people to do fine detail work, cleaned out a backyard shed for possible future inhabitation, saw some interesting performances, met a friendly letterpress printer, a neat illustrator, and an awesome painter of radical letterforms, helped out the Meg somewhat with all her projects, laid groundwork for future schemes, and generally stayed way busy. (also November)
  • collaboration with Meg (out-of-focus photo): “whoa, look at that sexy fire escape!”
    collaborative fire escape

    “termite-infested shed? or photoshoot from ‘Anthropologie’ ?”
    shed setup

    “must… have… bright light… for drawing…. ”

    chillin’ with Lentils the cat at Nowe Miasto

    a beautiful and disintegrating city….
    sidewalk tiles
    tiles part II
    tiles part III

  • Thanksgiving: with family in Philadelphia (reading Tintin books), and a too-brief visit with Erik Ruin… (late Nov)
  • returned to Providence this past Sunday night; and yesterday (less than a week later) participated in the RISD alumni “holiday” art sale — a long day preceded by no sleep. (the present moment!)

In the meantime, I also was a volunteer work-share at Scratch Farm in Cranston, I’ve been compiling a list of (and then reading) young-adult books with strong female protagonists, applying for some fellowships, and trying to stay organized.

What’s next?


  • December 8th, 6pm-9pm: I will be live-illustrating 100 very short stories by 10 different readers! at Knight Memorial Library, 275 Elmwood Avenue, Prov.
  • December 10-11-12: Secret Door Projects (me) trunk show at the Eli Phant art/craft shop in Portland Maine!:: update Dec 8: show not happening, postponed till the spring! Eli & Ella Phant are on the brink of having their Ele-baby, and I have enough on my plate here in RI… as evidenced by the following…
  • December 18th, 12-5pm: “Cardboard Pankakes” informal last-minute-before-holidays studio sale of a bunch of Providence artmakers/crafters, at Emmy & Andrew’s apartment (124 Chapin Ave, #2)
  • holiday-zone self-promotion: my work is for sale at Craftland, Frog & Toad, risd|works, and from me right here on the internet!
  • January and February: two months straight to spend in Providence and to draw and print. What is winter for? I know what winter is for.

and generally:

  • drawing a short comic as part of a compilation my friends are making, based on comic characters invented by middle-school students…
  • finishing prints, old prints and new prints… oh my gosh so many prints to finish. Trying to make that list shorter!
  • making some bigger/ more abstract/ more complicated prints…
  • working on the print series…
  • planning to exhibit work next fall…
  • helping build out an airstream trailer for my friend’s wife who has a chemical sensitivity…
  • organizing everything, getting things shipshape…
  • building things & fixing things…
  • seeing friends instead of looking at facebook…

Okay that last list is pretty cursory but I gotta be done with the computer for tonight!!!!

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