Printtroll came into being about 20 years ago in the print studios of Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. I had been printing the a la poupee prints of the Robin plate all night. At about 7:30 AM a fellow print major Shelleen came into the shop to start prepping for that days class. I had been up for almost 2 days straight and was working on caffeine and nicotine alone. Shelleen was every bit the printer I was not. She was organized clean and precise when it came to making and printing her work. I was like the Tasmanian Devil. I took over whole rooms and printed for hours on end with no real empathy for anyone else. I was dirty, surly and spoke to almost no one. Honestly not much has changed in the past 20 years. Shelleen asked me how the printing was going and I must have just grunted at her or something because she just replied: “RobRoy you are the troll of the print studios!” and she left me there.
I didn’t start using the name Printtroll until about ten years later while talking about the incident with a mutual friend. It makes sense as a persona and I find it fits me to this day. I believe all my work grows out of the Intaglio print, which is a physically demanding process to make and print. I dig at my plates like an animal but have also matured as an artist to become more precise and searing with my emotion.
The Sporozoan Cavities Suite is the ultimate example of who I am as an artist to date. It is also the culmination of the creation of my persona as the Printtroll. Once the suite is finished I will move on to the work that it has allowed me formulate while processing and printing the suite.
Robin was the model who helped me create the foundation of The Sporozoan Cavities Suite. In 1991 I was in a sophomore at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn and my drawing class very regularly had Robin as a model. He had a great body to draw from, long and dancer like and he always found interesting poses. Unfortunately he was incredibly annoying. He talked a lot and pestered the instructor with silly questions. One day I became so frustrated with him that I tore him limb from limb in my drawing. I was left with a lot of body parts.
I took the drawings home and discovered his chest cavity in my drawings to be very interesting. I reworked it again and again. Eventually I made this print (this image is the second version) from the drawings after attaching some hips and a part of a leg. I still have this plate and have revised it several times. Looking back I know this is where The Sporozoan Cavities was born.
I find it exciting that the rage and frustration of 20 years ago has matured into metaphor for everything that my work currently embodies. It is the blood and guts of humanity that The Sporozoan Cavities is about all the stuff that we love and hate.
In all this frenzy surrounding The Swarm I have neglected to talk about work that came before it. I started making these hanging wall pieces when I was in the DUMBO studio in Brooklyn. I had a lot of drawings that I couldn’t seem to finish or I just felt needed to evolve into something else. The Tapestries grew from this need to push my drawings to a new place. I had weaved prints together a little bit, as you can see in front of the wall pieces. I had never pushed the weaving to the complexity and fluidity that I was able to accomplish in these Tapestries.
When we moved to western Mass. I pushed these things even further and they led me to new places. I was never able to finish any of these pieces. Life kept getting in the way. Now we are back in Seattle and I feel confident that I can and will return to these works and bring them to the place they need to be. ( Oh to have a studio again. ) I hope to show them in a setting other than a studio so that I can think at length about their presentation to the viewer.
It is a great story. My friend John Petzinger emailed me to say he saw an ad on craigslist looking for artists. I replied to the ad and heard back, almost immediately, from Sense Nail Spa in the Washington State Convention Center in downtown Seattle. The salon had looked at images of work from Sweetie Boutique and B of A and asked if I would like to show some work in their space and of course I said yes. This happened so fast from the time John sent me the ad to the time I was showing them my work was only about 24 hours. I took in a couple Swarm Containers. When I got there Robert, the manager asked me if I could do an installation on their main wall behind the front desk. He told me there was a neurological conference arriving the next day and that over the next week about 10,000 neurological professionals from around the world would be coming through and hoped I could install it the next day: Friday.
Zanne was in China. I frantically inquired with Izzy’s main play date friends and all of them came back and said “sorry…..” It was too short notice. I called John. “Hey remember that ad you sent me…” It turned out John came to help me on Friday and Izzy went to run errands with his wife. Thank you so much you two. John took great shots of The Swarm going up and was a great help in prepping pieces for me. I ran out of steam just about the time the salon was closing and all parties involved decided I should finish on Saturday. Izzy would spend the afternoon with John and I would finish.
The Swarm wrapped its way through a corner and another and then around to the other side of the wall. It is not decorative, it does not blend in, it does command the space and grab attention both inside The Salon and through the glass windows. If you live in Seattle you should try to see one of the four installs that are currently up. They are all listed in this post.
Art can change your world.
A friend said to me, “You have a musk about you and it runs through everything you do. Don’t let it go!”
I took this as a great compliment. I am pervasive. I don’t really fit. I always seem to be the odd out no matter the situation. The “musk” my friend was talking about is both figurative and literal. I make no attempts to cover up or apologize for who I am. I have spent 25 years making myself into the person I am with all the baggage and madness that that brings a long with it. I make bad decisions and good ones I regret nothing.
I finished the Bank of America project and although at first I was not very happy with it I have now begun to feel better. Installing this type of work with customers in the lobby is not at all easy. Normally when making a piece of this scale I will spend hours sitting and thinking about it. This was not an option on this install as I could only work while the bank was open and in between hours when Izzy was at school.
It is also an interesting experience to have so many people watch while you are creating a piece like this. I have always been one to not want anyone to see my work in progress even in the studio so this was a challenge for me. It is not like performing The Spore Box on the street, at least with that the piece is already finished and I am simply creating ritual around it.
The Sporozoan Swarm has proven it self to be the most versatile of all my work. I also feel that it is showing its ability to speak to the greatest variety of the public I have ever been able to reach. While hanging this piece I spoke with other artists, business men, moms with their kids, veterans and a few others that I couldn’t easily figure out. The common thread for all of them was they were drawn into the piece for all sorts of reasons and all of them left excited by it.
Art can change our world.
I have begun installing The Sporozoan Swarm in the lobby of The Bank of America in West Seattle. The scale of the wall is completely different than that at Edie’s Shoe Store. For this install I wanted to allow The Swarm to form an image, rather than just cluster together on the wall. I really didn’t know what the form I wanted to do was but I did know I wanted it to be some sort of vortex shape (more on this when I am done).
Installing a piece like this while the bank is open is not easy, customers are coming and going and needing to use the table in front of the wall that the piece is hanging on. It is interesting to see the piece take shape while on lookers make comments, ask questions and give advice. Ultimately its progress and evolution are partially dependent on these interactions and the installation it self becomes a performance.
This print from the Sporozoan Cavities suite is done with an A la poupee technique. The plate was made through a series of etches that were reworked by hand. I am hoping to finish the suite some time this summer so that they are ready for my show at Twilight Art in October. It will be a great show and I want to have the suite done early enough so that I can make a suite container for everyone who is going to want to own one.
This may have been the beginning of my interest in sending Sporozoan out into the world. About six years ago some friends decided to take some art along on a trip to Europe to place in the ad slots on the Berlin subway. I gladly gave them about five prints. This picture is what I have. This happened before I conceived of Sporozoan but I look at it now as a precursor of The Swarm. It is exciting to see old ideas come back and find resolution long after they were initiated.
The Swarm is calling you. All you need to do is leave a comment and you get one. I will be picking someone at random but not until I have 5 comments. This weeks give away is for a Minuscule Sporozoan Swarm. Once I have 5 comments I will notify the new Keeper, via email and then get their Swarm in the mail. Check out the map to see The Swarms proliferation so far.
Check back next week I will have a new give away then.