BLOG*April 11, 2011

Mark Murphy is a champion of the artist. He publishes books about them “Murphy Design”, makes films about them “Scribble” , and creates shows for them “Survey Select”.

Now it is time to celebrate Mr. Murphy!

There is an opening of his one man show, “Plug Me” this Friday at Subtext. Opening reception April 15 6PM—10PM at 2479 Kettner Boulevard, San Diego, CA 92101

I asked Mark some questions about his vision, art process, and promotional tactics for Plug Me.

How long have you been creating your own art pieces?

The creative pursuit began in my sketchbooks. Crude meanderings that celebrated the concept of everything living have eyes to see. And it was my sincere attempt to better understand the artists I work with and a tireless process to uncover an individualistic voice.

Tell me something about the evolution of this work over the years?

The work began in sketchbooks sent to me by Don Kilpatrick in 2006. I started by putting an ink pen to paper, focused on line quality and continued on the theme mentioned above. Most times, the pen meandered, unrehearsed to find a cast of nebulous characters that could be built upon time and time again. The work is all about taking chances and trying something new each day—typically at night after the graphics and publishing is completed. I think the work started evolving in December of last year, as I decided to incorporate different printing and keylining techniques and incorporate them into the mix.

Plug Me” is a collection of one-of-a-kind block and letterpress originals, as well as a showing of drawings and watercolors. What is the concept of the show exactly?

“Plug Me” is a thematic show that features a whimsical response to the rate of change experienced by all life based on political, socio, economic, religious and environmental effects. Or “a spewing of a force so strong that it is knocking our planet off of its axis.” “Plug Me” is also a term of endearment for the exhibit that invites the insertion of a stopper directly into the problem to stop the leakage.

Sizes range from 2” square to 16.” Smaller work was created for this show at Subtext in San Diego to encourage interest from new collectors. There are 42 framed pieces and many print experiments packaged with a letterpress header card and inserted into a poly bay with certificate of authenticity.

The block prints were created by carving one non-rehearsed image out of the  block and applying the finished image over colored block areas that I had previously prepared with brightly mixed inks. Between you and I, there were over 80 carvings and at least half were scrapped. All of the final pieces in the exhibit are unique pieces or 1/1 artist proofs.

Please share some details about the process of making the block and letterpress originals.

Patience and slow cutting strokes with the carving tool for the block prints, whether linoleum, Staedtler carving blocks or wood. With letterpress working with others is great, as it speeds the process, clean up and helps out with the machinery, as it takes time to get to know the press you are working on. I utilized old Vandercooks in Cleveland at Zygote Press with Cathie Bleck and Detroit at the College for Creative Studies with Don Kilpatrick.

What type of materials do you use, papers, inks, etc.?

All archival art making materials with found materials. Rives BFK White, 250 gm is a great paper for watercolor, dies and letterpress or block printing—thick and a premium quality paper. I love the way this paper responds to any level of moisture, pressure or ink color.

Inks are water and oil based from Daniel Smith. (Dense colors that often take some getting used too). Koh-I-Noor Rapidiograph pens, high-quality brushes, M. Graham & Co. cadmium based Artists’ Watercolors, Neutral pH Adhesive by Lineco and Japanese colored ink pens (filled with liquid ink and flows out of a acrylic brush pen) and Japanese metallic watercolor trays too. For scraps of ephemera, old matchbooks, comics, prayer cards, deeds, notes and whatever I can get my hands on in my “save and use later” box of miscellaneous materials. The framing company, which I thought was a good one, Custom Frame Solutions. Enter the sizes, and they have been turning around large quantities in 5 days. Crazy.

Here is a coupon if you are interested:

Are you promoting your show in any new ways that other artists can learn from?

Twenty years of promoting and it is hard to keep up to be honest. Facebook events used to be a sure thing but everyone is going “LIKE” crazy these days since the advent of Google tracking “LIKES” for indexing rank. Twitter and Tweet Deck are 2 powerful tools that artists typically do not utilize enough. Syndication of a controlled sampling of images on Facebook, Twitter, and media outlets—Lee Joseph Public Relations, San Diego Tribune, AI-AP, Sezio, Society6, FecalFace, Ninthlink, Greg Spalenka, friends Tweeting and Facebooking and non-stop updates with the gallery, Subtext—they do a great job too. Last but not least the blog in combination with email blasts. Try to do 2-3 articles on the blog per month about the show with one major email blast to 32k worldwide with 280 to specific media contacts. In short, a planned distribution of information over 3 months to friends, local media contacts, email list, Facebook event pages, Tweets, TweetDeck Syndication, Linked In posts, and personal invitations through the mail.

This is my first solo show at Subtext and I am applying the same strategy that has evolved over the past 20 years. Does it work? Hopefully, I get it right this time out.

Any other cool events you are creating/attending after this one?

Yes, I participate at Comic-Con in San Diego each year, booth No. 4833 and have worked on printing over 500 unique prints thus far and have planned a series of letterpress zines and unique artist items and books. During the event, an exhibition at Noel-Baza Fine Art Gallery in San Diego, July 28 through end of August featuring 36 fine artists from around the world in a thematic exhibition entitled, “Lucid Dreams.” Working on finishing my second fine art documentary in time for Comic-Con too.

If you can make it to the San Diego area this Friday or for the duration of the show, check it out! I bow to your Art Spirit, Mark. You are an inspiration to us all.