process

BE HERE NOW with Caroline Paquita by Hope A

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For August's Keep Writing postcard, artist and illustrator Carline Paquita wants to ask you a few questions about how you use your cellphone.  Founder of Pegacorn Press, her feminist queer publications deal with the trends of society and forces opposing the expected flow.  She sent me the illustrations for this card and I designed it, including choosing to print a pink and purple split fountain on slick stardream paper, making for a glittery card that was tricky to print. 

Here are my answers to her questions about ways I limit screen time.

  • My phone lives at my desk.  At night, and as much as I can during the day, including when I leave to teach a class.
  • FB is for business only. I never installed the app, I removed messenger and my private profile is not public and I have no friends. I make batch posts once every 2 weeks for events for my business.
  • IG is mostly business.   This is where I struggle.  I am starting to post and check only once a day because even with no personal profile and a limited number of people I follow I still mindlessly scroll sometimes.
  • Timers for everything. This is a trick that works for me for staying focused when I do computer work but I have started doing it in the studio too. I set a 30 minute timer, stretch after every 30, and work on one project for those 30 minutes. Sometimes it is simple like "I will clean up my desk for the next 30 minutes."  Sometimes it is just a timer to not check my phone and work on whatever I am drawing for 3o minutes. Usually I leave myself 5 minutes every hour for email and IG but even that seems like too much. Sometimes I set a shorter timer if I need to finish up something. 
  • Limited notifications & do not disturb . My screen only shows that I have a text and from who.
  • My phone is a mini-computer. After numerous incidents and unrepairable devices, I have started treating my phone like the tiny computer it is. I do not carry it in my pocket. I have a phone that is slim and easy to hold (bigger ones are too easy to drop). I try not to walk and look at the screen ever.  I leave it inside or at home when I am with friends, unless I am riding home alone at night. 

I tried going back to a flip phone last summer. I originally had a version of the pink flip phone that Caroline mentions.  My died the day I moved to Oakland. I've been through a few phones since then. I tried going back to the flip phone, the one I had was so slow I stopped answering messages. And since I still used my phone for work, I had an internet only device. It was more time consuming than just having a reliable smartphone. 

That's where I am at. I am trying out this once-a-day IG check. I'll let you know how it goes. You can post IG from your computer with a few tricks, so maybe I'll try that. 

Im also working on driving less. My studio is over a bridge and a little far or me to bike every day but I know how much better I feel so I will try. I'm always making small changes to work towards a better healthier me. Slowly. Slowly. 

Want to get a card with a question for you an answer every month? Subscribe to the Keep Writing Project.

Want to see all the responses I receive to Caroline's questions? Check out this. 

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Shark Attack! by Hope A

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For November's postcard, I wanted to accomplish two things:

  • experiment with overlaying two colors to create a third color
  • make something with the image of a shark to be included in the annual animal themed fundraiser at the Practice Gallery in Philadelphia.

You many not have even realized that I have goals each month, that I am not just making up designs willy-nilly. Well, there is some of that too. But it is nice to have a goal, a chance to refine a skill, or just show off.  When I was training on the Heidelberg at Painted Tongue Studios, I didn't quite realize how tight the registration was on their designs. (Oh, non-printer side note here: in letterpress each color is laid down individually, on a separate run through the press. So if the design has two colors that are close together with fine lines, it is important that they line up. That is called registration.)  Once in a while they would lay one color onto another, often using a cool red and a green to create brown. The card would have three colors with only two runs through the press (and with your fellow printer-in-training only crying once or twice).  When I left Painted Tongue, I opted for a much more loose style. Until I remembered the magic of overlays. And so here I was, wanting to use a little more green in my print without having to clean off the press and add that color. Viola, my favorite teal made of lime green and bright blue.

As for the shark, you may have noticed that most of my designs are text-heavy.  I also like to look through Dover books of old printers cuts--things that would be lead images if I had moveable type. Since I don't I make my own plates form old cuts.  But once in a while I can't find what I need. I barely passed my drawing classes in school, but it is fun to practice. This is what you get. This creeper.  I made a few prints which were hand colored and then stored away somewhere. I really need to get back to cleaning up my studio. 

PS Thanks Charity for asking me to participate in the fundraiser. And yes, my name is Hope and I know someone named Charity. Also we are both from New Hampshire. True story.

 

 

 

Now There Are Only Words Left by Hope A

Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon? ---Mary Oliver, The Summer Day

I know you've heard this one, I know you have heard this and maybe one other Mary Oliver poem, maybe a dozen times (depending on how many yoga classes and self-care workshops you've taken). But listen again.  It is shared often for a reason.

There are cliches about death.  About it making you reevaluate your life.  It is a cliche because a death shakes up your life, your order. We don't talk about it enough, it is not a part of our cultural fabric, though it is so obviously the end of the cycle, the inescapable release from our bodies.  Yet, the denial is strong, along with the anger and the other stages I am still working on. 

In her the advice column Dear Sugar, Sugar tells a grieving man that her six year old son once told her: “We don’t know how many years we have for our lives. People die at all ages.”  Meaning, we only have so many years. And then there are no more.

Sometimes when things were tough, and I didn't want to talk about the tough things anymore, I would write my friend a list of the good things, small things to appreciate that do not eliminate the difficult but make the hard times worthwhile.

So here is the good things list:

  • Responses to Keep Writing number 77, how to deal with sadness, how to stay useful. I designed this and printed this before Travis died, before i had received the letter that said he was having a hard time.  This is a coincidence.  The great part has been the extra comfort from friends and strangers, hearing more about all our struggles and how we cope.
  • Phone calls.  I said I wanted to keep in touch with friend better since this happened.  Sometimes I call. Not as frequent as I like, but there is at least one friend who I talk to more often and our conversations have been immensely comforting.
  • NY  I have been wanting to return to New England in October, my favorite and when home felt more like home. I have friends in Philly and Boston and Maine I'd like to see. Instead I have 4 days in NY but I am grateful to grieve with friends, to walk streets with changing leaves and smell crisp air.
  • Poetry  I haven't been reading as much poetry as I used to but I have been copying poems I like, with a typewriter and by hand, and collecting them, a small binder clip of words that speak to me. I like poetry because you have to slow down to read it, pay attention.
  • Slowing Down As in reading poetry too i have been paring down my life, slowing down. It might not look that way, I am still very active, but I try not to waste time, to take more walks, to work hard at the things I love.

That's it for now.  The hard part about lists is the tendency to oversimplify. And though some of these things are a result of something tragic and difficult, I still grieve, I still wish my friend could write back. I am still not ready to know he will never write back.

 

 Keep Writing number 78, text by Travis Fristoe

Keep Writing number 78, text by Travis Fristoe



38 (Thirty- Grateful) by Hope A

I talk a lot about the weather here.  After almost 3 years in Oakland, the endlessly dry, sunny days, never-hot-enough summers, the lack of seasons, the numerous perfectly temperate days still make me uneasy.  There were a few days this week, finally warm enough to think of swimming, to feel the heat enveloping me even as a breeze brushed by. I say I miss sweating, swimming, staying inside because of a rainstorm, the dramatic skies that accompany a change in weather, but I also miss my friends in other places.  The amenities of my Bay Area life are plentiful, but I would trade a dozen vegan doughnuts for lunch in Philadelphia once or twice a month.  You can have a bay view sunset for a autumn evening in NH.  In exchange for 2 days access to the print shop, could I spend one weekend a month in New Orleans?  What would it take to be able to ride to a friends house in Portland, NY, Seattle, Tucson?  But there is no such barter system.  The down-side to a wonderfully adventurous and mobile 20's and a more stationary late 30's is that I you can't live in the same place as all the people you love. Or even half.  Luckily, many people are charmed by the Bay Area and I had a few old friends here when I arrived.  And I have met a few great people and I am grateful to have them as a part of my life now.  It is a slow process, nothing like the instant friendships of late night adventures after a show, while on tour, or a penal turned date turned penal again.  But it comes.

I complain a lot about California, about Bay Area drivers (if you are going to cede the right of way when it was yours, you don't have to feel smug about it). But slowly, a circle of friends and acquaintances build, layers, and I find myself talking about sequencing yoga classes and discoveries on our personal practice with other teachers. I meeting other printers for coffee and discuss business plans. I have friends who want to talk about art, and music, and even a few who will hear the stories I don't think they'd understudy because we are from different places, yet realizing our troubles--and our joys-- are more universal than that.  And you are willing to come to my place on a Saturday night, meet my other friends from seemingly disparate places and situations and find some common ground. And eat cake. Thank's y'all for a very sweet birthday.

This was also published at Keep Breathing, a blog about yoga-related writing. Not just poses but living life too.

Collaboration Station by Hope A

 screen print created for california independent bookstore day

screen print created for california independent bookstore day

Green Apple Books in San Francicso, contacted me about printing a broadside to be given away for California's Independent Bookstore Day on May 2nd. Even before I knew I would be printing something approved by John Waters I was in! Bookstores! Broadsides! and cursing!

I sent three designs, one of them featuring hand-drawn type because I like to take the most time possible before I get paid.  I love this trick though, drawing type from a sample book. My lack of perfectionism means that even traced type scanned into the computer still has a rough homemade feeling. The bookstore and John Waters agreed. We settled on a pale blue paper, and black ink and I was off to The Grease Diner in Oakland, to reconnect with my screen printing skills. 

If you want one of these posters, you will have to show up to Green Apple Books this Saturday, take a photo of yourself and post it to twitter, facebook or instagram with the hashtag #bookstoreday and claim one of these.  And you can still get tickets to see John Waters speak on May 20th.

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Also filed under "where have you been, Hope?" are these cassette covers I printed for crimewave music.  Small Doses released two collections, available together or as Collection II only. Dreamy droney sometimes anxiety rattling stuff.  I worked with Andy of crimewave to design these covers, based on photographs I took, and then created black and white images to print, using silver ink on black paper.   They came out nicer than we could've imagined.

 double cassette release from crimewave via small doses

double cassette release from crimewave via small doses

Lastly, when my friend Emily asked me to add the outline of a grand piano for the business card for her father, neither of us could find a suitable image. So with a ruler, a decent free hand outline and some photoshop editing, we found something just right. I love printing business cards!

 trial and error

trial and error

Wintertime Views Out the Window by Hope A

Oh, the quiet of January as I unpack hastily assembled boxes, and take stock of what I have. I bound myself a new datebook, filled in my calendar, and started making my workspace, well, workable.  When I was at Penland this summer, I was lucky to convince a few amazing folks to trade their work for a year of letterpress postcardsErin Curry printed on silk and Georgina Trevino, took a break from her jewelry design to try out some etchings and traded me one mint green lovely.  Also, Constance Metcalf gave me a panel of handmade paper, inspired by a process shown to me by Amy Jacobs.  All together, my windows are little fancied up. Also, with some help, I finally hung a lamp over my desk so I can see what I am doing at night.

January (in California) is great for walking.  Andy discovered a sci-fi themed cafe near out house with coffee and 5 or 6 pinball machines.  There's lots I want to do but it is nice to take a walk every day too, and see what is out there.

 etching by georgina trevino

etching by georgina trevino

 etching by erin curry on silk on the left, panel of paper by constance on the right

etching by erin curry on silk on the left, panel of paper by constance on the right

 through the window as the sun goes down

through the window as the sun goes down

 light over the work table! small victories 2015!

light over the work table! small victories 2015!


More from the Desktop by Hope A

 friends' front door, new orleans

friends' front door, new orleans

The first datebook I ever made for myself was really just a tall journal with blank pages. Each page was a list. Once I ran out of room on one page, I would transfer the parts of the list that had yet to be completed and crossed off, and that still seemed important, and started again until I finished the next page. I did have a lot of deadlines, so it worked well. I like lists a lot. i subdivide lists into other lists. But the chance to reevaluate is important.  To cut loose what is unnecessary, to re-prioritize.  This might be what is so appealing about the idea of a new year.  I know that January 1st is an arbitrary date to choose to start over, and check in, but it works for me, as I stay in a little more, have a little more slow time, and anyway my other favorite time to do this--my birthday--is nearly 6 months away from January 1st.  So here are more things I saw this year that I wanted to share, other things people made that are inspiring and important and beautiful.

 knotless knitting demo on handmade paper vessel by Tamaryn

knotless knitting demo on handmade paper vessel by Tamaryn

 postcard from the new orleans book fair

postcard from the new orleans book fair

 zines procured from the new orleans book fair

zines procured from the new orleans book fair

Where You From? by Hope A

With everything that has been going on in Ferguson and in cities all over the country, it has been hard to sit and write about zines and postcards. I've been watching the news, reading, and trying to find constructive things to say.  And sometimes I've just been angry and sad.  But the work to do in this country is ongoing and so while it becomes  less in the forefront in my mind, I work to keep these struggles part of my every day conversation, while talking about the things I make too.

When I moved to Baton Rouge, LA six years ago, I was struck by how many people I met who were from Louisiana, from Baton Rouge and other smaller towns.  I had been living in big cities most of my life, leaving my home state at 20 and even then, I had moved twice within that state.  I become interested in the ideas about why people leave their home towns and why they stay.  I wanted to explore the benefits of leaving a place when you've outgrown it and the benefit of staying rooted in one place.  In 2 issues, I asked friends and acquaintances, many from Louisiana, to write about their experiences. This comprised the first 2 issues of Where you from?

Then 2 years ago I moved to Oakland after spending 6 months in Italy.  I had a bunch of ideas to connect, from traveling with my sister in Sicily, talking with my grandmother about her parents home towns in Sicily, moving out west with my partner, who had lived in Baton Rouge his whole life. I thought I would have a new zine soon--I've sketched out a huge project in my head, with maps and letterpress printing and so the project is still just ideas.  I got so stuck on that project that it's been years since I've made a new issue.  So here it is. 

I wanted to make a zine with the instant book form because it offers a great structure for telling two sides of a story.  And it meant I could letterpress print some for fun while still digitally printing affordable copies.  I chose to write about leaving places I've lived and returning. 

It was harder than I realized to write these. When I was done, I slept for a week and they sat on my computer, waiting to be turned into files to become plastic plates to print.  They are short, and the form thwarts my proclivity for run on sentences.  But here it is: one sheet of paper, ten stories.  Mostly about New Hampshire and New Orleans. One or two you may have heard before , maybe not. but now they are in print in a copy that fits in your pocket.

*****Did you want a copy? They are all available in my etsy store and if you live in the Bay Area, I'll be at the EBABZ this Saturday with a table full of stuff. And if you want to hear me read from it along with a bunch of other great zine writers including artnoose, come to the EBABZ reading this Thursday here. Phew.

Take care of each other ok?