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

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!!!!

time, timer, timing

April 24, 2010 at 6:27 pm

new orleans, poydras st.

It’s been a long time since I’ve written or posted anything here! and I’ve generally been neglecting my internets in general. (with the exception of Facebook, for what it’s worth…) The translation of this is that I’ve been working really hard & intensely on stuff in the physical world.

new orleans, beautiful can from the fridge at Nowe Miasto, long-opened and full of moldy beans!

quick list:
new orleans …

new orleans, central city neighborhood

back in Providence…

  • drawing
  • printing (postcards, prints, posters)
  • a little bit of gardening
  • making zines
  • mixing colors, printing infinite rainbow rolls that really deserve the name
  • trying to get old projects printed so I can move on to new projects.
  • building little block cities out of a bag of woodshop scraps from Utah.
  • taking lots of pictures, realizing on return from new orleans that there are a bunch of things I like to take pictures of (hand-drawn letters, beautiful buildings, useful/weird customizations of things, falling-apart stuff) here as well! and that I should document it somehow, and that drawing just isn’t fast enough… that the speed of the camera doesn’t imply some kind of lack of moral grounding. I know, self-limiting thoughts, hilarious. !

providence, off of Prairie & Public streets.  they may be tearing this building down, it’s unclear…!?


Real briefly, big developments in my life & thinking have been these two:

— Realizing I don’t need to be an architect someday. This may seem like a no-brainer, but for me it is a big one. Since I finished school, I had had in my head the idea that at some point I would stop making prints and go work in an architect’s office and work my way up into that kind of career… that that would be when my “real life” would start.

Recently, due to a number of incidents & factors that all kind of piled on each other, I realized that a) I really love making prints and those challenges and sets of ideas and questions and things to explore (especially, hey, prints about buildings); b) as an artist who understands buildings, I can always work with architects and build off their deeper knowledge and learn more from them and add something to their understandings (even in traditional architectural practice, architects hardly ever work alone, they are always collaborating with other architects, engineers, specialists, etc!); c) that I can always work on buildings but under a collaborative and co-learning model, not trying to fit the way I work into the hierarchy of an office (very intimidating to me), and not being limited by “architecture’s” rigid separation between designing and building.

With the idea in mind that I was someday going to stop printing and change paths, I wasn’t really letting myself give all my energy to print stuff… now I sense a re-focusing and a shifting of my attention, and expansion of energy… it’s very exciting. We’ll see what comes out of it. !!

drawing for plant sale poster 2010!

— A friend ribbed me that “For the past five years, you’ve been making the same thing!” Aha, a sensitive spot!

Like all writers, he measured the achievements of others by what they had accomplished, asking of them that they measure him by what he envisaged or planned.

(Borges, The Secret Miracle)

Thinking about this, I realized that I have, for the past bunch of years, actually just been executing ideas that I originally had two or five or eight years ago… that I have kind of been a carrier-out of my own ideas, as opposed to an artist working in the present with what I am thinking about now… ideas I have now are pushed off till later (“till I finish the projects I already planned”) and sometimes get forgotten or shoved away entirely. Not the best of situations! So along with focusing my energy on printing instead of on a vague and not-really-desired future as an architect, I am finishing up long-standing projects and trying to get to a place where I can work more directly on ideas I have now…

Okay, so this could get into a much longer ramble about thoughts for the future and specific projects and etc. that I know you all want to know about… but I really need to get to printing!!! The upshot is, still working, still thinking, same projects, new motivation, new projects, new ideas pouring in all the time, can I keep up with them? Probably not, but I’m still trying.

can I get a little figurine made of this?[attempt on the left by me; drawing on the right by Lena, inspired by San-X, there is a singing worm from the worm-bin next to me; in background, new Industrial Trust Building postcards!]

Helpful Tools note:

I have started using an internet-based work timer called SlimTimer, which Arley-Rose told me about… I was skeptical at first, having had limited success with ‘systems’ which are supposed to help you manage your time… but whoa, being able to know how long I actually spend on things is actually CHANGING MY LIFE.

Also, Meg Turner & I are gonna be selling our work at the spring RISD alumni art sale! Saturday May 1st, 10am-4pm, Benefit St, Providence. Directions are at the link… come by & say hi even if you’re broke! I will have cheap postcards/small prints and zines for sale, as well as some older/larger/more expensive work too. Meg will be bringing her gorgeous photogravures (some new & some old), as well as new screenprints, up from New Orleans. Hooray for ART!

drawing in new orleans!

February 17, 2010 at 8:15 am

I got stuck in New Orleans for five extra days last week, because of the many feet of snow that fell on the mid-atlantic cities, blocking all airport connections. So I got some extra time down there to draw, watch the Saints win the super bowl, build a loft with Meg in her room, and work a little bit more on a new print. It wasn’t really *warm*, but we did get some good sunny days, and it was really good to be there.

post breakfast
[looking skeptical, but actually feeling great, on a typical street in the Bywater neighborhood… my facial expressions rarely correspond to the internal emotions!]

Going through the photos of this trip and my visit in December, I realized there are way too many to put up here, and I should probably finally bite the bullet and make an account on flickr or something like that… but for now, here are just a couple of pictures/notes.

My experience with metal-plate-based printing is very slim: I made a couple of drypoints back in 2002 as part of a wintersession class that I partially audited before fleeing Providence (heartbroken!) on a two-week greyhound-bus Punch & Judy tour. Now, Meg is running a community printshop at an arts non-profit in New Orleans, and they have two large etching presses… so one of my goals for visiting was to print those drypoints again, and to work on a new plate… or two… or however far I got.

meg’s favorite factory

I’ve been really drawn towards just looking & drawing, as I’ve written about here before, and I had an idea about drawing directly on the printing plate… Well, this was more complicated than I thought it would be, because it’s very hard to see what you are drawing in the shiny metal, and even harder to understand how it’s going to print.

Sitting outside and drawing the factory was really rewarding, but the technical demands of the plate made those rewards fewer and farther between. You scratch a line in the metal – it feels like it was deep enough – but it might print really lightly, or really darkly — it’s hard to tell… and you can’t tell for sure until you pull a print from it, which is a bike ride and 45 minutes of work (at least) away.

preliminary pencil drawing and metal plate with tools…
[left: preliminary drawing on paper, and right: beginning to transfer it to the plate]

I guess I should say that it’s hard to tell *for me*, a beginner. Also, it’s really hard for me to feel like a total beginner at something: and the learning curve is pretty steep here, at the point where I am, and in this process which is ancient and demanding. Right? So, I can go easy on myself. Or, I would like to be able to…

reflection & scratched lines…
[out-of-focus scratched lines in the plate…]

The initial proofs look good, but I’ve got a ways to go… somewhat like all my other projects right now… argh. I don’t know why I expect anything different, at this point. My friend Sandy, who recently moved to New Orleans, brought up the idea of doing a series of prints about the city… I would like to… maybe studies of building details, especially of awnings and overhangs… I took some pictures while I was there for source material… but there are so many things I am trying to do!

Here’s Meg’s loft under construction (for some reason there are no pictures of it completed – yet):

meg with the drill
[yeah, we know you are supposed to use nails and not screws to hold joist hangers — but she wants to be able to take the whole thing apart and re-assemble it, if need be…]

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