Sunday, March 10, 2019

Back to School

By Amanda Verbeck

Last week I had the chance to head back to my elementary school as a visiting artist. I haven't been there for over 25 years, so it had changed quite a bit. But there are always those things that are familiar—the gym with its stage, a tornado drill, the morning announcements, and even the path that I used everyday to walk to school from my grandparents' house.

It was a full day with twelve classes of Kindergarten through 5th Grade. I started each class with a question: What is art? There were so many great answers. Art is creativity and imagination. Art is colorful. Art is a way to express your feelings, ideas, and emotions. Art is playful and fun. Art is whatever you want it to be.

I brought along a sampling of prints from Pele collaborations, along with some of my own work. I also had plates and printmaking tools to pass around so we could talk about process. All in all, it was a great visit back to school. Many thanks to my good friend and Point Elementary teacher Alisha Oetting for recommending me for Fine Arts Day!

Friday, February 22, 2019

Roxanne's First Year at Pele

By Roxanne Phillips

A year ago I joined the Pele Prints family, and it has been a wild year: we moved the studio into its forever home, we participated in two art fairs and two exhibits, and we printed multiple collaborative projects. It has been a year of organizing, adjusting routines, and staying flexible.

Pele Prints moving day
Moving day

It was exciting to move the Pele studio. I personally learned much about construction skills, which may come in handy when I find my forever living space. We prepared the studio for the move and thankfully had industrial movers to relocate the presses, flat files, and exposure unit. The actual moving day was a family affair, with help from friends and family making the transition smooth. The celebration came later with an open house, after the unpacking and organizing.

Pele Prints open house
Pele Prints open house

Working with artists in the studio is a unique experience. By the time the artists get to the studio, we have talked and have a flexible plan for what will happen during the week they are in the studio. Most of the time I am a set of “spare hands,” anticipating the needs of the artists, so that printing is not interrupted. Some of my tasks include mixing inks, switching out printing plates, newsprint management, and lots of cleaning. No matter how much pre-planning occurs there is always trouble-shooting and brainstorming to keep everything on task.

Laura Berman working at Pele Prints
Laura Berman working in the Pele studio

Maria Verbeck and Roxanne Phillips cleaning plates
Maria and Roxanne cleaning plates

Most weeks, I’m in charge of and do quite a bit of contract printing for SKIF International. This consists of creating fine art prints on clothing. Each piece is individually printed on an “as need” basis. Printing for SKIF keeps the time flying. I’m constantly changing colors and switching designs. Before I know it, an entire day has flown by.

Pele Prints designs on Skif sweaters
Printing Skif sweaters

Traveling with Pele is motivating. Seeing and hearing the public interaction, thoughts, and opinions on the art that is displayed keeps me wanting to make more art. When a piece finds its home, it is inspirational. Knowing that an individual or business wants to look at art every day in their space that I’ve helped to create makes me proud to be part of Pele Prints.

Pele Prints booth at the Texas Contemporary art fair
Pele Prints booth at the Texas Contemporary art fair

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Book It

Maybe it's the feel of the paper. Maybe it's the stories they tell. Maybe it's intimacy of the experience. Maybe it's the way they transport me to a different place. Books are just special. And these 3D books bring another dimension to the experience.

The first video shows the making of the 360° Mt. Fuji book created by designer Yusuke Oono, published by Counter-Print in Japan.

The second video shows artist Tauba Auerbach's pop-up book [2, 3] in a video filmed by Sam Fleischner.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Woman's Best Friend

If you know me, or even if you follow me on social media, you know my baby Arya is a super important part of my life. Arya is a goofball, sweetheart, amazing Doberman that I can't imagine being without. So yes, I'm a freaky dog mom.


Combine my love for dogs with my interest in science, and voilĂ —a genetic family tree for dogs! I first saw this great image in an article in Science magazine. A team of geneticists, lead by Elaine Ostrander and Heidi Parker at the National Human Genome Research Institute, collected and studied the DNA of dogs for over 20 years to gather the details shown in this family tree. And just in case you're wondering, Dobermans fall into a group (or clade) with Rottweilers, Black Russian Terriers, and Giant Schnauzers. Who knew?

Cladogram of 161 Domestic Dog Breeds

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

For the Love of Color

Moses Harris, The Natural System of Colours (1769-1776)

We don't shy away from color here at Pele Prints. When I look through our flat files or see our collaborations on the wall at a fair, I'm reminded firsthand that color is such an important element for me as a printer. Each project provides a different opportunity to explore the richness of color. As a collaborative printer, I'm often making color choices right alongside the artist. My own "color voice" combined with that of each of the Pele artists, acts as a thread that runs through the work in the studio.

Often, it helps to have inspiration when putting together color combos. For me, inspiration comes from the world around me and from the various tools at my disposal. Living in St. Louis, all four seasons in nature are a constant reminder of how colors can work and play together. The plethora of budding greens in Spring, the bright shades of the sun reflecting off the clouds in Summer, the harmony of color in the falling leaves of Autumn, and the calming subtle greys, whites, and browns of Winter. I'm also drawn to fabrics for bold color ideas. Indian saris and Indonesian batiks shine with saturated colors and beautiful jewel tones.

When I'm working with color and I get stuck, there are a couple of tools I go to for help. One is my trusty Pantone color bridge. Don't make art without it. The other is the Colour Lovers website, "a creative community where people from around the world create and share colors, palettes, and patterns." Whatever works to inspire...stay colorful!

Monday, May 8, 2017


"Peace. It does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble or hard work. It means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart." –Unknown

Stress is just a part of life. But like many of us, I can let it get the best of me. There are some pretty great tools though that I've added to my toolbox to help deal with stress. Whenever things get overwhelming, I turn to these. A reminder for me and perhaps a new idea or two for you...namaste!

Paper Lungplant, designed by Tim van Cromvoirt

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Print 3D

Traditionally printmaking exists in 2D world, surrounded by drawing, painting, collage, and even digital media. But the digital side has been rapidly changing over the last few years, and 3D digital printers have made their mark.

As a person who has always worked with their hands, I have a love/hate relationship with technology. Don't get me wrong. I'm by no means a modern-day Luddite, and I have incorporated many technologies into my studio practice at Pele. Not to mention that, strictly speaking, the presses I use were once considered the latest and greatest in the way of technology. There is a constant push/pull between my need to create by hand and my desire to incorporate newer digital tools. Most people who have worked with me have heard me talk about the importance of the "evidence of hand" in art. I believe there is such a thing as too perfect, and it's in the small imperfections where beauty often lies. Taking a phrase from the late t-shirt design shop Imperfect Articles, "perfectly imperfect" is a thing.

All of this said, technology provides an amazing complement to the handmade. And while 3D printing isn't exactly new, there have been huge strides in the last couple of years in expanding its scope, affordability, and reach. Following the Maker Movement reveals a seemingly endless string of ideas and innovations that I find fascinating. Some standouts include incorporating hydrographic film with 3D printed objects, designing intricate 3D shapes and designs using edible chocolate instead of plastic, and even creating 3D printed custom prosthetics for animals.

Seeing ideas like these gets the wheels spinning in my head. Who knows...someday we might just add a 3D printer to the Pele bag of tricks.

Derby prosthetic legs

Hydrographic film

3D printed chocolate