This is our second installment of “Reflections of a Summer Intern,” where we highlight the experiences and thoughts of the enthusiastic, talented, and hard-working interns that we were fortunate enough to have helping us out around the studio over the summer. This time, we’re hearing from Julia Billman-Chiriboga. Julia interned with Book Arts from May to June 2023, through the the Service Learning Initiative at City Honors High School, an opportunity for students in good academic standing to volunteer at nonprofits or government organizations in WNY as a part of their final high-school senior semester. She is currently pursuing a degree in aeronautical engineering at the University at Buffalo, and continues her connection with Book Arts as a member volunteer and consignment artist, selling her handbound journals in the shop.
She is also the artist behind the Vincent van Gogh print that we have been featuring recently in the shop, and she took some time to reflect on her experience designing and printing it!
Looking for a quote consisted of trying to find something from Shrek and stumbling on a van Gogh quote instead. The van Gogh quote better fit the theme for Book Arts: art and community. I thought it was a beautiful sentiment, especially because the print is meant to celebrate the community of artists and people who support Book Arts and each other.
Choosing type was difficult because I needed to balance size and impact. The type needed to fit in the 11×14 frame so that it was easily framed. The type also needed to emphasize the message of the quote. I decided on Sanserif Italics 8pt for the majority of type, excluding “artistic” and “love people”. The Sanserif created a nice flow down the page and helped the other two phrases stand out. “Artistic” was in the font Heavy Clarendon 20 Line. The type for this was larger because I wanted to show greater emphasis on it. “Love people” was another font — Helvetica. This final type was its own font because it is both a continuation of the actual quote and a message on its own.
Van Gogh’s name is in Kennerly 36 pt because it’s a font that while visible, doesn’t take away from the rest of the type.
To build the form, I used slugs and reglets to create space between the lines, words, and printing blocks. I was inspired by a Dahl quote print in the shop with its background of wooden blocks, though I wanted to put my own spin on it. I decided it would be an interesting contrast between the type if the wooden blocks took up negative space. The hardest part was finding blocks that would print while fitting nicely between the edge of the print and the line. I used multiple large type from different fonts to create the green-yellow printed blocks. Originally, I wanted them to be a single block for each line, however the line with “nothing” has two because I couldn’t find something that would fill enough space and still fit the line. This wasn’t very noticeable however, so the effect was mostly the same.
After a quick proof, I realized the type in the words were too close together. I slotted in slugs between each letter to give more space within the line. This threw the form slightly out of line and so I went back in and adjusted it by taking out some smaller slugs.
Proofing the print also came in handy with picking out ink colors. To fit the theme, I chose colors that were summery and calming. I settled on a nice blue named Opaque Viexl PMS #301 Blue by CFC for most of the type to provide a nice contrast between that and the two main phrases. Then, I chose the yellow for the background blocks — Syntex Gold Stain by Kohl & Madden. To add a warmer tone, I picked Kohl & Madden’s “Maybe Baby” Peach, too. After an initial proof with the Gold Stain, I realized the yellow printed as a more green tone. I still liked the color, so I kept using it. The peach helped balance the tones, so it worked well.
I went back and forth on which words should be which color, specifically “artistic” and “love people”. Because “artistic” already was emphasized by the type’s size, I decided it was best to ink that line as the same blue as the Sanserif font. “Love people” was inked in the peach to show its importance to the print. The peach color also emphasized its significance as a phrase on its own, which I thought tied in well with the purpose of the print to celebrate the Book Arts community.
Moving onto printing, I began with the yellow block background as the first layer. Since none of the type overlapped, I could’ve printed in any order, but it made the most sense to me to print the background first. Next, I inked the press with the #301 Blue. The final layer, the peach, needed to be adjusted to make sure the “love people” fit between the top and bottom lines. I set them on the rack to dry over the weekend.
Taking them off the drying rack, I cut them down from 11×15 to 11×14. The extra inch was in case the print skated on the form while it was printing and picked up stray ink streaks. When they were cut down, I numbered the print to formally edition them out of a printing run of 65.
The print is meant to celebrate the community of artists and people who support Book Arts and each other.