Fairly regular news, updates and posts about what Alex has been up to. His October 2022 newletter is available here.
27 October to 06 November: News, updates, posts
Endlich Nach Zahn was the first series I wrote in Processing. Everything I’ve written since has used the same coding environment, albeit with an increasing amount of Java. The first-series-in-Processing thing meant that some of the code was a bit clunky and that changing the size of the output meant that I had to tweak (gulp) 74 different variables. I’ve now re-written the code so that all I need to change is the pixel dimensions of the final output. (Non-geek version: Changing the size of Endlich Nach Zahn is now a load easier than it used to be.)
I’ve had lots of new artworks printed, including runs of the Future Rope Core Memory and Genuary 22 “Sea Of Shapes” series, both of which have been popular lately. These are up in the shop now.
On 6 Nov, I did Liverpool Print Fair for the first time. Met some lovely people and had some great conversations. A big thank you to everyone who came, expecially those who bought prints and postcards, and to Abi and Mark for beautifully organising everything.
Posted 07 November 2022 by Alex Russell
14 to 26 October: News, updates, posts
The first batch of my new 75cm x 50cm prints are back from the printers and I’m delighted with the results. Three to start with, all printed on A1 paper: A Scheme Not Of This World, Future Rope Core Memory and Inkt Vis Inkt. They’re for a new project – more details to follow.
Also back from the printer are a couple of tweaked versions of “Roundles Pallet”. These have an adjustment of the colour code that gives a more muted, subtle colour palette.
The new prints also include some Future Rope Core Memory, Genuary22 and Inkt Vis Inkt one-offs. These three series have sold well recently, so I’ve had a bit of a re-stock ahead of the fairs I’m doing in Liverpool and Leeds. They’ll be on sale here soon, along with Roundles Pallet artworks mentioned above.
Finally, the latest edition of my newsletter is out now. You can download a copy here. If you email me (or DM your email via my social media feeds), I’ll bung you on the subscribers list. There’s about four issues a year and I won’t share your data or mither you about anything else.
Posted 26 October 2022 by Alex Russell
30 September to 13 October: News, updates, posts
I’ve been working on a larger print format for a new project. Here’s a test run of “Future Core Memory” at 50 x 75cm (to be printed on A1 paper), and a tweaked version of A Scheme Not Of This World.
A big thank-you to everyone who came to the St. Catherine’s/Kjole fashion show on 6 Oct, especially @allthingsbeautywithcaroline for organising it all, plus @kjoleboutique for supplying all the outfits and MCing. Dead chuffed that Rachel from Kjole won the print I put in the raffle and chose one from the new Inkt Vis Inkt series.
Speaking of which, Inkt Vis Inkt, my new series of one-off prints, is now available for the first time here in the shop. I’ve shown it at a few events already, and the collection has gone down really well.
Finally, Future Rope Core Memory 220916 1200 has been selected for “The One” International Digital Art Contest organised by Fundacja Pinata. It’s a 50cm x 50cm artwork, created especially for the competition. It will be exhibited at the Forum Gallery, Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń (PL) in December 2022.
Posted 13 October 2022 by Alex Russell
20 to 29 September: News, updates, posts
My new Roundles Pallet collection of one-off prints is now one sale. The series explores building complexity from simplicity. Using thousands of (simple) spots and stripes, the code layers up areas of pattern, creating an almost-three-dimensional space. A sophisticated colour algorithm models human perception of the spectrum, building rich, vibrant outputs from balanced points around the colour wheel. The series has its roots in a series of work I made in the late 2000s whilst researching with possibilities of digital printing. Further developed as part of the Genuary 2022 generative art challenge, Roundles Pallet (the name is a nod to heraldic terminology) works with a library that mixes hand-made and coded-created imagery.
I did the Art All Dayer Autumn Edition and Cheshire Print Fair, launching another new collection, Inkt Vis Inkt. It uses a library of Riso prints to build abstract artworks, echoing the process of layering up screen prints. The collection takes the rich tradition of printing into a new space, only possible to the mix of generative code and digital technology. It will be available here soon.
Posted 30 September 2022 by Alex Russell
05 to 19 September: News, updates, posts
I’ve made lots of new prints over the last few weeks, including these four one-offs. Two new ones in the A Scheme Not Of This World series, and two new ones from Future Rope Core Memory. All four are 36cm x 36cm gilcée print in archival ink on 42cm x 59.4cm (A2) museum-quality paper.
I’m doing lots of fairs in North West (UK) cities over the next few months, including Manchester, Liverpool and Leeds. I’ll be showing/selling my full range of prints, including these four, plus launching the new Inkt Vis Inkt collection.
I’ve also written a bit about Future Rope Core Memory, describing it as:
“…[examining] representations of the natural world and the past, exploring their use as decoration in the urban environment. [FRCM] questions whether with future responsibility for the planet, our relationship with nature will become an artificially generated depiction, an abstracted memory. The code models methods of ornamental composition to combine floral and landscape imagery with traditional pattern elements. Concepts of hauntology also play a central role; the name is a nod to Core Rope Memory, a now-antiquated method of physically hard-wiring software into memory.”
Posted 20 September 2022 by Alex Russell
08 August 2022 to 04 September: News, updates, posts
The first batch of Inktvis Inkt one-off artworks will go on sale over the next few weeks. The series uses a library of images created on a Riso printer, in turn made with a collection of hand-made and collaged images. The Riso prints, plus some collages made from them (top left), were scanned in and I’ve written new code that uses the library to build one-off artworks. The bulk of work at the end of the coding involved loads of tweaks to the colour and layering of the content. Whilst I was writing the code, I thought a lot about how screen printing can be used to create one-off images, in particular how sections of exposed screens can be masked off with paper stencils. In addition, I wanted to keep the characteristics of Riso printing, especially the use of dithering to acheive changes in tone. The outcome is a digital print, using Riso print content and the conceptual form of a screen print.
After a lot of umming-and-erring, I’ve decided to get some postcards done. People have asked about them at every fair I’ve done. These will initially only be available in person (at print or art fairs, for example), but I’ll probably make them available here in packs. There’ll be five to start, including the one bottom right, a run of Future Rope Core Memory.
Posted 07 September 2022 by Alex Russell
01 to 07 August 2022: News, updates, posts
Inktvis Inkt, my new series of one-off artworks, has reached the next stage of development. The edges of each rectangle now have Riso-esque edges (as opposed to a completely clean one) and each rectangle has a little random nudge to suggest the imperfect registration when re-printing onto an existing Riso print.
There are numerous examples of echoing an old print process with a new one, often because the new one is initially perceived less favourably. In textiles, multi-coloured block prints are registered (lined up) with pitch pins that leave tiny additional dots of colour on the fabric. These are used to line up each subsequent colour block. When copper roller printing began to replace block printing, it was seen as inferior, so the engravers would sometimes add tiny dots to mimic block print pitch pin marks. Unscrupulous merchants could then pretend the (cheaper to produce) copper roller prints were done with blocks. In fact, copper rollers or plates allow finer lines to be printed than any technology before or since.
Until now, the development code for Inktvis Inkt (forthcoming new series) has worked with parameters set from the start. Now, the image provides feedback to the code as it develops. As new content from the library of Riso prints is added, its colour reacts to the section of the image already underneath it.
In other news, I’m in the process of creating a lot of new prints from existing collections. I always love seeing new artwork emerge from the code. As part of Genuary, I wrote some code that arranged and coloured 10,000-ish spots into unique artworks. (I explored something vaguely similar when I first started getting serious with creative coding around 15 years ago.) I’ve gone on experimenting with the code, and lots of people have bought one-off prints and said very nice things about it. It’s now had a big update and I’ve decided to give it its own collection title: “Roundles Pallet”. Digital heraldry, don’t you know. Coming soon.
Posted 08 August 2022 by Alex Russell
26 to 31 July 2022: News, updates, posts
I’ve started working on a new series of artworks. After a frustrating couple of code-going-nowhere days last week, I stepped back from the computer and re-worked everything with a pencil in a sketchbook (see top left image).
The initial stage was code to work that divided a working space up into frames (top right). The next step was making a little library of some of the Riso prints I did last week and writing some more code that recolours the prints before adding sections of them to the frames. There’s a full prototype bottom left and detail bottom right.
At the moment, the colour palette is controlled by the same block of code I developed for “Draw Ten Thousand Of Something”. This selects a series of colours evenly located round the spectrum, balancing them to human perception, because the (digital) HSB colour space does not map colour the way the brain does.
Making the Riso prints was very much about experimenting within limits (in a really good way). Mixing the prints with code means I can create new limits; I’m now imagining I’m screen-printing with the Riso prints. The series is tentatively called Inktvis Inkt, which is Dutch for cuttlefish ink (sepia). Now to start working on the image library and getting the frames to interact.
Posted 01 August 2022 by Alex Russell
18 to 25 July 2022: News, updates, posts
I did my first-ever Riso printing this week, with Alan Holmes at Rogue Artist Studios, Manchester. I laid out a selection made and found spots, stripes and other simple shapes on the Riso scanner to make the master. Working with black ink, I used a range of different papers, experimenting with taping separate sheets together, folding and re-printing. Loved it. Big thanks to Alan for letting me put all manner of stuff into the machine that you’re probably not supposed to and use up a lot of ink.
Probably my favourite bit of any print process is the first sight of the artwork. Riso printing is really fast, but it’s no less exciting to see the print shoot out of the machine. I’ve got a big pile of stuff to work with; the scanning process has started.
I spent time over the rest of the week trying to get some new code to work. One of the drawbacks of coding is that it’s eminently possible to spend most of a day achieving exactly nothing… It happens less these days, but it’s no less frustrating when it does. I should probably blame the heat rather than my ineptitude. (Tuesday was The Hot Day here in Manchester.)
Posted 26 July 2022 by Alex Russell
11 to 17 July 2022: News, updates, posts
Not entirely sure why, but I really like stretching paper. One of my very favourite things in the world is a well-stretched surface to work on. (Matisse’s quote about “the invitation of dizzy white space” is very apt here.) Having a full complement of prepared drawing boards is a bit like having a full fridge. Just need to work out what I’m going to do with them all now.
A new series of one-off prints are now available here. Connected Play reconfigures eight hand-drawn, straight lines into a complex system of interwoven shapes. The work draws on the biological concept of genotypes and phenotypes. In the genotype stage (the data within DNA), the code produces numeric data that corresponds to the composition and content of the output. In the phenotype stage (the physical manifestation of the genotype), the data is converted into visual content, using the lines to build thousands of interlocking forms. The work alludes to the complex patterns of synaptic connections that allow humans to learn and form memories.
The lovely People of Print have published an article about my working process. You can read about what originally got me into printing, learn what my first computer was and find out ten things that really inspire me.
I’m also working on some new code…
Posted 18 July 2022 by Alex Russell
1 to 10 July 2022
I had a fantastic time at Chester Art Beat from 1-3 July. Three days of meeting lovely people, sharing ideas, selling work, encouraging the public to have a little go at something and connecting with a wide, inclusive community. Big thanks to everyone involved with the organisation, all the staff at M&S and all the people who came and said hello, even if they’d just popped out to buy some Percy Pigs. Even bigger thanks to everyone that bought some of my work. The “Sea Of Shapes” and “Future Rope Core Memory” series were very popular over the weekend, so I’ve been doing some tests at new sizes.
I’m so delighted to have had my application to join People of Print accepted. Big thank you to the team there. Bottom right is a close-up of a proof (test print) from the “A Scheme Now Of This World” series.
Posted 11 July 2022 by Alex Russell