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


May 2, 2008 at 10:19 am

Yes, despite other people’s good advice and my better judgement, I went ahead and printed postcard invitations for the show on Sunday. These were done a while ago, but I didn’t get to put the picture up until today. It’s good to have something to hand to people. . . . A bunch have already been mailed out and handed out. If you would like to get one in the mail, send me your mailing address!


April 16, 2008 at 12:34 am

I’ve been printing a lot in the last couple of days. Most of what I was doing was of this nature:

Yes, this Black Cat job is over, despite the hassle that inevitably comes along with trying to print tiny, tiny little details at perfect resolution. I rushed it across town on my bike to Jim, he chopped the edges off the cards on his huge chopping machine (to make the blade come down you have to push two buttons at once, one with each hand, to make sure that you don’t chop a part of yourself off), then rushed it across town again to make it to the shipping company by 7pm. Done and done.

Can you see how tiny those tiny letters are? Smaller than a 16th of an inch. Yes, get out your rulers and look to see how small that is. It’s tiny! Such a thing should not rightfully be printable by screenprinting. Yet it happened, it’s done. Yikes.

(Note: I did not design the above material, it was designed by this fancy, fancy wedding-invitation designer. Their website is impressive, though the opening page is kind of disconcerting. The strange thing I constantly find myself remembering, while in the middle of printing these somewhat excruciatingly detailed and definitely high-luxury “unnecessary” objects, is that, despite whatever one might say about the convention of marriage and the ‘wedding industry’ in general — a wedding invitation is one of the few pieces of art or design that will actually have meaning for many people: personal, intimate, significant meaning. So — not completely unnecessary. . .)

[my printing studio. tool shelves and drawers near left. new printing table in the center, with Scøtt’s rolly cart in front to hold paper. right: homemade drying rack (the shelves pull out, it’s sweet), with light table on top (covered by black cloth & plywood). back: pile of junk. this is all in the former kitchen of an attic apartment: note corner of kitchen sink/counter at left]

So my friday-saturday-and-monday of printing a bunch of high-precision, long-hours print runs left me with some longstanding questions newly affirmed in my mind.

1) I need to not lock my knees when pulling a print. I kind of realized I was doing this, but now that I have finally built myself a new printing table (above) that is a) not wobbly and b) four inches higher than the old one (more-or-less the right height!), it has become imperative. In the middle of the first print run of the weekend (which was also the first on the new table) I tried to sit down to take a break, and yelled because I had totally strained my knees from not bending them forward with every pull… The rest of the weekend became a practice session for careful attention to non-locked-knees standing and print-pulling. A no-brainer — but it’s hard to change long-held physical habits…

2) I need to wear a respirator while printing. This should also be a no-brainer, I guess, but it took me a while. I’ve been noticing a weird itch in the back of my throat whenever I printed for a while now, and after I realized that I wasn’t just “starting to feel a sore throat coming on”, had begun to harbor (somewhat reluctantly) the idea that there was probably a connection.

The labels on the Speedball inks I use say they are non-toxic, so I had always thought that I must be wrong. However, yesterday, as I finished a five-hour, non-stop print run (pulling somewhere around 500 prints in that time!), my throat really hurt, and my lips felt tingly (and yes, I had the windows open, and no, I’m not licking the squeegee, or anything like that). Today, the croaky throat was still there, and by the afternoon, the tingly numbness in my lips had spread to the lower right side of my chin & face. BAD. ! ! ! So I looked up the MSDS.

It affirms the product’s supposed non-toxicity, and says this:

no respiratory protections required

but it also says this:

hazardous components: VOC (.71-1.66 lbs per gallon)

1 pound per gallon is about an eighth of a gallon, which seems to me to be quite a lot. I guess I am just the one-out-of-however-many people that has a bad reaction to it. My housemate B has an extra respirator that I can use, and he already has the Organics cartridges (in his puppetmaking, he uses a lot of terrible spray glue to stick terrible foam together — which is obviously toxic, in contrast to this stuff I have been using for years…).

So I will start using it tomorrow and see how it goes. I’m kind of hoping the weird numbness goes away first . . . It’s a depressing reminder of just how long it’s been since I’ve been to the dentist.

[. . . I set up the next print run tonight, so I can print tomorrow, since I still want to have the windows open, and tonight it’s too cold for that . . . ]

New Urban Arts 2007-2008…

October 12, 2007 at 11:13 pm

…has now begun! This now 10-year-old project, an art studio for high school students and young artists in Providence, is well-described on its web site: [link], where there can now be found this yet-again-revised ‘bio’ of myself, since I am one of the artist mentors there this year:

Jean Cozzens is a poster maker, silkscreen printer, and emerging
architect. She is originally from Philadelphia, PA, has now lived in
Providence for 8 formative years, and can occasionally be found in
Worcester, MA. Her many projects include: helping facilitate
participatory art installations, collaboratively rebuilding a
collective kitchen, persistently researching the architecture of
everyday spaces, making screenprints of all shapes and sizes,
practicing ways of interacting that undermine destructive power
relationships, and mentoring at New Urban Arts! Jean has received a
merit fellowship in design from the Rhode Island State Council for the
Arts and is a graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design, where she
studied Architecture and Fine Arts. This is her third year at NUA.

Writing a bio is always difficult, even though the goal is to express what you are about, it always sounds somewhat forced. (Since this one is for the NUA web site, the next-to-last sentence is included at their request…)

Over the summer, the NUA studio underwent some renovations, including constructing an and expanded black & white photography darkroom, and a totally new silkscreen darkroom! I had the interesting experience of being the ‘client’ as my friend Adrienne served as the ‘architect’ for the new spaces — I’m not sure if she was pleased or not to have a client who knew how to read a drawing and made last-minute changes (in colored pencil) to the wiring diagram, a day or two before the electricians showed up. We definitely didn’t do that as an affront to Adrienne’s knowledge or prerogative as the designer — we did it because we knew that a certain arrangement of switches and outlets would make sense for the darkroom’s needs: a non-UV safe light (switch close to the door), a regular light for occasional cleanup (switch further away from the door), an outlet for the light table that is next to it instead of directly above it, and an outlet for a ventilation fan that is switched to go on with the safe light. We might not have been very good clients in that we didn’t know how to articulate these needs ahead of time — but Adrienne was a great architect in that she didn’t get territorial about it, but let us speak from our bases of knowledge to make the space more intuitively functional.

Various mentors and volunteers have also been doing a lot of the finish work on the space, if it can be called that — it’s still pretty rough, though luxurious compared to where the screenprinting facilities were previously housed. Andrew, working with some students, laid the vinyl tiles for the floor. Kate, Andrew, Jack and I retrofitted a sturdy metal table into a dual-purpose light-table-table and coated-screen-storage-rack. Our friend Pete came in and built a narrow table for coating screens. Andrew and students did a bunch of finish plaster work and painting. Jack and I built a rack for storing screens. I put up shelves for ink and materials… Now all the mentors & staff that will be using the silkscreen setup are working together to figure out some new ‘protocols’ for printing and for keeping the screens organized, so we can all be on the same page working in this awesome space…

It is a vast improvement over NUA’s screenprinting setup from the past two years, where you had to go into a dark and flood-prone corner of the moldy basement to coat screens kneeling on the floor, then sit in the basement on the light table for 10 minutes, while dust and grit fell on your head from the the floor above, while the screen was exposing. You also had to go into the basement to turn on our old high-pressure hose, then climb up a scary, dark bulkhead door into a gravel alley (where the neighbors’ dogs’ poop would go un-picked-up for days or weeks) to wash out your screens.

Now: you can stand up to coat screens, and there is a safe place to put them to keep them dark and dry while they cure. You still have to sit on the light table for 10 minutes, but it’s up in the main space, so people will hang out & talk with you, and it’s not cold, damp, or gross anymore. We also have a really, really nice washout sink, with a light on the wall behind its translucent back, and a hose that turns on right next to the sink, with a sprayer head that won’t spray water all over the place and get you wet!

It’s hard to remember sometimes how mediocre & crummy the situation was just five months ago, when I was printing the 10th anniversary poster. When I look back on the past month and a half, since I finished the ‘windows’ print at the end of August, it sometimes doesn’t seem like I’ve done that much, since I don’t have any new finished prints. But using the new NUA studio this first week of programs, and seeing how easy it is for other people to use, I’ve realized that a lot of my energy has been going into making the studio really good. It’s still in progress, and I know that a lot of stuff will get changed around, systems modified and adapted, etc, as the year goes on. I’m still really proud of the progress we’ve made so far, and especially of the process we’ve gone through, planning, negotiating, discussing, advocating for inches or feet in one direction or the other… another facet of the constant conversation that makes up the daily practice of New Urban Arts.

I’ll have some pictures of the new space here soon. I’m at the studio, 743 Westminster St, Providence (across from Classical & Central high schools), Tuesdays from 3-7 pm, if you want to stop by and say hi and check out some silkscreen process.

Print series update: all the ‘lost’ posters have been found. I’m waiting for Priority Mail tubes and then I will re-send lost ones, and send out prints to the couple of new far-away subscribers. There are about 8 subscriptions left, if you’re still interested in subscribing, contact me!

Right now I’m working on: getting stuff cleaned up and re-organized around the studio here, helping my friends tear down and rebuild their kitchen, finishing up some old projects and commissions, finding a server that doesn’t crash twice a day, printing some wedding invitation envelopes for Black Cat Graphics, getting photo documentation of my work from the past two years, rebuilding the rest of the website and finally creating a good image gallery…

… so the next print in the series is kind of put to the side for now. I have to tie up a bunch of these loose ends to give myself space in my head to think about it… when most of them are tied up, I can begin working on it again. I’m hoping to get it done in a mad push through late October, November, and mid-December…

We’ll see!

sorry, post office

September 29, 2007 at 7:29 pm

So I need to retract my cynicism about the US Post Office — the two posters that were in conveyor belt limbo did indeed arrive at their destinations. They took about three and a half weeks — but they did get there.

Now we’ll see if the two that went to wrong addresses get forwarded to their right addresses… one of those depends on the mail in Canada which I have zero experience with. ??

Again, subscribers, if you didn’t get your poster yet, let me know so I can try to track it down.

Magic City Repairs, part II: Worcester!

September 26, 2007 at 12:00 am

First of all: subscribers — did you get your print yet? Everybody who subscribed before August should have their print, with a couple of exceptions. I’m holding on to a couple for people who are traveling, when you come back, it’ll be here. Four people have yet to pick theirs up: if it’s you, email me or call me and come get them!

As far as I know so far, two people didn’t update their address with me when they moved, so there are those two prints somewhere in postal limbo. Two other prints (that I mailed later than the first big batch) haven’t arrived yet, the post office claims that they “fell off the conveyor belt” somewhere and will get there eventually. Thanks, USPS. So to anybody who didn’t get their print yet, let me know if you haven’t, and — patience — I’m sorry…

If you subscribed in September, you might not have gotten yours yet because I haven’t done a second big mailing/delivery… It’s coming, I just have to plow through the last couple of days of this project I’m working on now which is:

Magic City Repairs! part 2, in Worcester, MA.

This Thursday, Sept. 27th, in the afternoon, Andrew Oesch & I will be in Worcester hosting another city-building day where you can come make some kind of building or structure and add it to what is shaping up into a magic city atop a giant cardboard mountain with a cave you can go inside and some cardboard archways and structures that can only get bigger & better in the next month. Lots of information is on the project web site, the whole show is up till November 9th so there is no excuse not to miss it okay? Given the scale of the space and of our installation, and the nature of the context which is a relatively careful, proprietary, and non-messy university visual arts department this version of the Magic City project has come to incorporate both the dreams of 12-yr-old jean to have an infinite number of cardboard bricks to build a building out of… and the dreams of 28-yr-old jean to help create an equitable society in which anybody can build and shape things according to their desires. Could I ask for more ??? (well, maybe…. now about that adventure playground….)

Thanks to help from Jake B and Jay R Z this web site should soon become some kind of more formalized web log. It will be set up so things are more organized, and so that you can sign up for updates whenever I post stuff via RSS. There are many other things that are happening “soon”, so I’m not going to even talk about them here because that “soon” keeps getting larger and larger….

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