Artist Process Video Series: Jer Wat On Teaching Himself To Make Block Prints

Artist Process Video Series: Jer Wat On Teaching Himself To Make Block Prints

Written by:
Lillie Therieau
Oct 11, 2021

Jer Wat (aka Jeremy) is a printmaker, illustrator, and video producer living and working in Winnipeg, Canada. His love of art goes all the way back to his early childhood when he would draw on anything he could get ahold of: napkins, scraps of paper, and even his arms!  

He was in a fine arts high school program when he discovered his passion for printmaking. However, his printing practice lapsed after high school until the pandemic hit in 2020! 

Recently, while Jeremy was home in Toronto, he stopped in at an art supply shop. Jeremy grabbed a lino carver and some linoleum blocks. He was excited to experiment with printing once again and to relearn what he had forgotten since high school. Jeremy loves to dive into new techniques, mediums, and ideas, and he thrives when he is teaching himself something exciting and fresh. 

Relearning The Art Of Linoleum Block Printing 

Jeremy started to teach himself with small stamps of his illustrations, to practice carving lines and focusing on small details. Carving linoleum blocks is a delicate process. The artist uses lino cutters of various sizes and thicknesses to carve out the negative space in the eventual print. 

The quality of the lines depends on the pressure and angling of the lino cutters, so a printer has to be very careful as they carve. It takes patience and precision to keep from slipping and carving out important details. 

However, the inking process might be even more difficult and time-consuming. Although it seems straightforward, applying ink to the block and transferring it to the design’s final surface is incredibly tricky. The ink needs to be the right consistency and the artist must hone their technique to evenly apply ink to the block, making sure to cover each area with the same amount of the pigment. 

 

Next, the printmaker presses the inked block to the final surface that the print will be transferred to. This also requires a surprising amount of control and skill, as the pressure has to be uniform across each area of the block. 

Soon, Jeremy began working with larger linoleum blocks, crafting bigger designs to change up the paper available to him. Although it was initially a frustrating shift, he’s found that it pushes him to refine his carving and persevere despite mistakes and missteps. 

The medium of block printing allows him the flexibility to print on tons of different surfaces. Whether a card to send to a friend or fine Japanese paper to hang as a high-quality print, Jeremy is always experimenting and pushing himself further as a printer.

One of Jer Wat's prints.

The Unique Character Of Printmaking 

When he’s carving, there’s a whole different part of Jeremy’s brain that is at work. His day job is as a video producer, so he’s on the computer during most of each work day. The shift between digital work and the physical, hands-on work of linoleum carving is super stimulating for Jeremy. 

Many artists who have one foot in the digital world love printmaking because it is such a grounding and physical process. 

Although he sometimes carves while listening to music, podcasts, or movies, Jeremy’s favorite way to carve is in total silence. It’s the only time he creates for himself to be quiet and totally peaceful. Printmaking can be a very meditative process. It also teaches artists to be okay with imperfection and variability in their prints. 

No two prints will ever look exactly the same, even if they’re pulled from the same block! It’s one of the amazing qualities that makes printmaking so unique, but it can be tough to adjust to, especially for an artist who usually works in the digital world. 

Jer Wat’s journey into printmaking is a great reminder that we can teach ourselves new skills at any point in our lives, and throw ourselves into a whole new kind of work!

Stay tuned for the next installment of our Artist Process Video Series and make sure to check out the wonderful artists that we’ve already featured.

banner artist interviews 1

Written by:
Lillie Therieau
Oct 11, 2021

Get IPMM Updates!

Art Features, Releases & Ways To Get Involved. Never Spam, we promise!

Get IPMM Updates!