the average citizen walking around the city, sometimes the greatest
exposure to local artwork comes down to a simple 15x 18 tapes to the
stoplight. Gig posters or ads for events, drawn up by some of the
finest sketchers and printers we have, and in some cases are finer
works than what's hanging in some galleries.
Potter Press have been turning out promotional and artistic posters for a good portion of the concerts and gigs happening in Utah for a few years now. Bringing a brand new design and form with their sporadically original creatures to a avenue of artwork that's mostly been taken over by random graphics. I got a chance to chat with the married duo behind the company to chat over their history and posters, as well as thoughts on local material and artists.
Nick & Erin Potter
Gavin: Hey guys! First off, tell us a little bit about yourselves.
Erin: We are a married collaborative art duo born and raised in the good state of Utah. We specialize in screen printed posters promoting shows for touring bands making a stop in SLC.
Nick: And we have a dog named Bixler and a six-month old boy we call "Book Of Road Maps." Just living the cooped-up-in-a-tiny-condo-art-family life.
Gavin: How did you both first take an interest into art, and what were some of your early inspirations?
Erin: We were both little kids who loved to draw in sketch books. Nick was interested in comic books at an early age and drew bloody mafia scenes with machine guns galore and I tried to paint the mountains I could see out my window in watercolor a lot.
Nick: That's pretty accurate. I spent most of my early years trying to figure out how to draw cool muscles and realistic blood splatter. After my hyper obsessive illustrations waned and I met Erin I started to become interested in modernist art and contemporary illustration. Earlier this year Erin and I created a blog in order to document the art that inspires us and we often use that to catalog the fleeting images we come across on the internet. You can view it at our Blogspot site. teenagekittens.blogspot.com.
Gavin: Erin, you have your BFA from Weber State. What was the program like for you up there and how was it obtaining that degree?
Erin: I really love the facility at Weber and that is partially why I chose to go there. The building is big open and bright. I really loved working up there and having access to all the great equipment. The last year of my degree I was fairly burnt out and ready to stop making art for the rest of my life. I think, just like any area of study, it can wear you out and turn you off to the subject to an extent. I was ready to be done, but I also really liked school.
Gavin: Nick, you're finishing up your degree at the U right now. How is that going for you and when do you expect to finish?
Nick: Yep, I'm finishing up my English degree right now and will graduate in the Spring of 2010. School is great, but I will be happy to be finished and to have the extra time involved with not working full time and going to school full time.
Gavin: When did the two of you first meet and eventually decide to get married?
Erin: We actually knew each other a little bit in high school and then ran into each other a few years after we had both graduated and started dating. We were married in 2006.
Gavin: What got you both interested in doing screen printing?
Erin: I did it a little in high school and really enjoyed the process. I continued it in college and emphasized in printmaking.
Nick: Yeah, I think we decided to start doing them together after we took a road trip to San Francisco to see Animal Collective play live. We purchased a screen printed poster while we were at that show and kind of talked about making posters for shows in SLC on the drive back and ended up actually doing it.
Gavin: Not a lot of people who do poster work take on screen printing anymore. What made you decide to go the tradition route for it instead of going digital?
Erin: We collect screen printed posters and have a huge respect for all things handmade. We are also huge music junkies so it sort of made sense for us to go the route of poster makers and combine two passions.
Nick: Yep, prints are just so much better. I'm pretty disinterested in digital posters. I mostly use them to cover my textbooks, like in Jr High.
Gavin: Does it ever feel like it's a lost art or do you believe there's still a strong audience for it?
Erin: There is still a strong audience for it. GigPosters.com is keeping it alive as well as the American Poster Institute and Flatstock, a screenprint poster festival that runs in conjunction music festivals like Sasquatch, Pitchfork and Reeperbahn.
Nick: Yeah, I think there was a period between the hayday of show posters in the 60s and 70s and now when the art was lost, but I think it is thriving now.
Gavin: What brought on the decision to start Potter Press?
Nick: Again, I think this goes back to that Animal Collective roadtrip. I think we've always had a drive to create art and this was just a way in which to do that together.
Gavin: What's the process that goes into creating a poster from the designs you choose to final product?
Erin: It's pretty hard to describe in words. We have a giant sketchbook filled with design ideas. We pick one and redraw it by hand onto a larger paper. From there we overlay pieces of acetate and draw onto those with black markers the color separations, usually 2-4. We then coat the screen with a light-sensitive photo emulsion which dries in the dark, but doesn't harden. We lay our color separation transparencies onto the individual screens and use light to harden the areas around the design through the acetate. The soft spots are then wash out with water and the screen is ready. From there it's just a matter of getting your paper in the right spot, lowering the screen and pulling paint through the openings with a squeegee. Sound complicated?
Gavin: How have things gone for you both since, and who are some of the bands you've done posters for?
Erin: It's definitely an awesome hobby. We like it. Some of my favorite bands we've done posters for are: Animal Collective, Liars, Subtle, Bill Callahan, Blood Brothers, Ted Leo, Sunset Rubdown, Lesie & The Ly's, Beach House, Evangelicals, Why?, Vampire Weekend, Saul Williams... basically every poster we do is for bands that we absolutely love.
Nick: Its gone pretty great. I think we pretty much just cover our costs in terms of supplies and maybe time, but it is totally enjoyable and has opened the doors to a lot of other opportunities that we wouldn't have had otherwise.
Gavin: You also do side projects from time to time like the 337 addition. How did you get involved with that and what was the process behind creating the room you did?
Erin: At the time I was finishing up at Weber State and one of my professors was somewhat involved and recommended me. I went to the initial meeting and was able to claim a pretty good room. We decided to go off of the vibe the the building was already emanating, which was creepy, old, and weird. We wanted the space to feel lived in, or haunted or whatever. We first started by pulling up the carpets and realized there was hardwood floors, from there we just got more and more ideas of how to make our desired feeling come to life by making an installation centered around old picture and old furniture, and old wallpaper. The walls we dripping and monsters were infesting the room. Overall we wanted to do something fun and playful, while still being a bit eerie. I grew up in a very old home and it was sort of my homage to being really freaked out by Utah pioneer heritage and knowing people had died in my house and how old and decrepit my neighborhood was, while at the same time being very fascinated by it.
Gavin: What new projects do you currently have working on?
Erin: We have a few shows here and there. We occasionally do print exchanges and Screen Printing Parties, and we are always doing more posters.
Nick: I have this idea for a series of art prints that are in the early-sketch stage that I am pretty excited about and we just collected a bunch of cool instructive posters from a church that I think we're going to work back into and collaborate on. There are always a million different ideas in the background, it's just a matter of what we have the time and energy for really.
Gavin: A little local, what are your thoughts on our art scene, both good and bad?
Erin: SLC is small and has a small art scene, which is great cause it's a really tight knit community and people help each other out. Obviously since it's small it can get a little monotonous, and it would probably be really exciting to be someone with a big bustling art community, but we love it here and love being a part of it and want to help it grow.
Gavin: Anything you believe could be done to make it bigger or better?
Erin: We just need people to continue supporting things like Gallery Stroll, Fashion Stroll etc. Buy local and buy handmade. I think there is a great community of people doing this already, but it would be great to keep getting more people interested and involved.
Gavin: Speaking of, what do you think of Gallery Stroll and how its evolved over the years?
Erin: Ahhhhh. It's been crazy. I have been going to Stroll since high school. Pierpont used to be my Disneyland. Especially when the Unknown Gallery and The Woman's Art Center were at their peeks. Once Art Access moved and somewhat switched audiences, Pierpont sorta died. It felt like 3rd was going to be the new Pierpont for a while, but James Anythony was shut down, Signed & Numbered is leaving, and things have gotten less artsy there. I still visit there every month, but now little meccas are popping up on second. It feels sort of broken and too spread out right now. I really miss Pierpont and the community that was once there.
Gavin: What can we expect from you the rest of this year?
Erin: This month's stroll we will be showing work at Copper Palatte Press, which is a great new little art collective space on 2nd South. We will also be hosting a Screen Printing party there on that night. You bring an item of clothing, and we will have 5 or so designs to choose from. You choose the design you want and we print it right there on the spot. It's a fun way for people to see how screen printing works and to be able to customize your clothing.
Nick: That and we have a print in Signed & Numbered for their October/Halloween group print show which should be terrific.
Gavin: Is there anything you'd like to plug or promote?
Erin: Just keep strolling. And if you aren't familiar with GigPosters.com, get familiar with it!