Makerspaces are places one can go to use tools that are otherwise inaccessible or unaffordable. Oftentimes, these tools are critical in the development of an artist’s practice.
No one knows this better than Charlie Barber, Christina Lee, Aaron Regal, Anna Shepperson and Matt Van Asselt, the artist lead team behind PULLPROOF Studio, an in-progress printmaking studio that moved in to a building on Penn Avenue last February.
Born out of a need for screen-printing equipment, 24-hour access to a facility and complete control of the processes involved, the artist-lead team launched an Indiegogo campaign with the hopes of crowdsourcing $15K to make it happen. They have since surpassed that goal ($15,843 at press time) and recently extended their campaign to a stretch goal of $25,000.
Pittsburgh wasn’t completely devoid of printmaking resources before PULLPROOF. Artist Image Resource (AIR) on the North Side and the Braddock Carnegie Library Neighborhood Print Shop both emphasize guided learning and education for beginners looking to explore printmaking. PULLPROOF recognizes the appeal of these spaces but seeks to be a collective with a shared studio space and membership-based structure.
“We're looking for screenprinters that need the space but not the knowledge of ‘how to,’” says Van Asselt.
"Printmaking, specifically silkscreening is so process intensive,” says Regal. “The amount of time it takes to bring a design all the way through requires so many different steps and material usages. Sometimes you need access to a piece of equipment for an hour, other times you need equipment for several. We're all working artists and can't cram the work we need to have done into tight slots of time.”
While renovations are still in the early stages, PULLPROOF has opened its doors to the Garfield, Penn Avenue community by way of programming. The now-bare studio serves as an impromptu exhibition space in this time of transition. From art markets to solo exhibitions, the team at PULLPROOF has already produced multiple events and tapped into the audience the street generates from the monthly Unblurred, First Fridays event.
“Screenprinting for me is like the democratized version of photography and painting,” says Regal in regard to being a printmaker in the 21st century. “It's a way of making my work accessible, distributable and inexpensive to own. It's also an incredible propaganda tool for communicating to people, making them think or even changing their minds about things. That's the beautiful thing about printmaking: it exists in multiples. You can disseminate it rapidly and widely.”
PULLPROOF Studio plans to be fully operational as a studio space by Fall 2018 and its Indiegogo Campaign closes on May 17.
For more information visit pullproof.studio.