Archive for the ‘Selling’ category

You can’t beat City Hall…. for art!

September 14, 2015


So it’s back to Toronto this week to set up at the Toronto Outdoor Art Expo, held at Nathan Philips Square in the shadow of City Hall on September 18, 19, and 20. Don’t miss this art extravaganza!


A Joyful Collaboration: The Truth About Rabbits

May 2, 2015

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It is our great pleasure to announce the release of a book of poems by Winona Linn, The Truth About Rabbits. These edgy, intelligent and humorous poems have been set by hand in metal type by Thee Hellbox Press in Kingston, with wood engravings  cut and printed by Larry Thompson of Greyweathers Press — a joyous collaboration of word, type and image.

The Truth About Rabbits
Poems by Winona Linn
Wood engravings by Larry ThompsonJointly published by Thee Hellbox Press and Greyweathers Press
Hand set in type in the Garamond face printed by Hugh Barclay at Thee Hellbox Press
Wood engravings printed by Larry Thompson at Greyweathers Press
Dimensions: 10.5 x 10″ tall. 20 pages on St. Armand paper
142 copies


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Wood Engraving – Craft Show Productivity

November 15, 2013

At the most recent craft sale, Holly and I set the booth up so I would have a little table to work on for cutting engravings or linoleum. I will always do this in the future, if there is any room at all in the booth. People are interested and astonished by the process, it makes the shows bearable during the lulls and it looks more productive than thumbing away on an iPhone. I suppose the amount of cutting that gets done is directly proportional to the truck and trade passing thought the aisles, but so it goes. I finished three engravings during the five day show: one was a demo block that I had been chopping away at  through the summer and fall shows, and finally ‘finished’ into a kind of abstract.

1.25" x 4" size

1.25″ x 4″ size cut on resingrave block

My next exercise was to explore the relation of light and dark in skin tones using lines, with interesting effect but needing more attention.


Proof and endgrain maple block  2.25″ x 3.25″

And finally, those who follow this blog may have read about a recent personal project involving my family history. Earlier in the summer, I sketched a pencil drawing of my ancestor, based on his photograph, onto a block. While idling at the show, I inked in the pencil drawing to indicate areas of black, gray and white, while ignoring the background for the moment.


Following the advise of some wise engravers, I began with the most difficult areas first, the face, hands and the lines of the coat, and the wrinkles in the bent arm. For the arm in particular, I went in with the fine tipped marker and clarified precisely the wrinkles. After completing the figure, I cut the chair and table, then had my fanciful way with the background. My only agenda there was to create a contrasting backdrop that was somewhat lighter and more graphic than the very tonal figure and face.


Block size 2″ x 3.25″

And the result:


I like it, although it needs some work still. The background work fine, and I am very pleased with the face, beard and hands — faces and hands are tricky. I wish I had left more shadow in the crook of the arm and along the breast, the contours of which seem wrong. The lower portion of the coat is almost perfect, and the pants worked out pretty well. There are some amateur errors — my graver slipped more than once along old Joshua’s forehead, which I assure you pained me more than it did him. In retrospect I might have done something more with the white space behind the chair, even just some visual noise, but there you go. In the original photo, Joshua has some unruly bed-head action going on, clearly a familial trait that has passed on to his great-great-grandson, so I preserved that element.

I cut myself some slack, since this is only the ninth or tenth illustrative engraving I’ve tried my hand at, and am still flailing around a bit as I adjust to the tools and the new medium. But it’s definitely coming along, and the possibilities in detail offered by the medium are pretty exciting.

Show and Sell – Back from the shows

November 14, 2013

The Eagle Point Winery show proved a very good show for me. Part of this is the good company I had in the board room, with John Sorensen’s wonderful paintings on the walls and sharing the massive table with potter Linda Hynes. Both are friends of long standing so it made doing the show a lot of fun, but people were buying as well, so all good. This is in a way an extension of the table shows that make up the book arts scene. The usual tables (approx 6″ x 3″) don’t have a lot of room for prints, but I was able to use the great depth of this table to layer prints: standing at the back against Linda’s display, then propped, then flat and finally the books out in front. In a standing position before the table, customers have free access to the books, but a bird’s eye view of all the prints. Simple but effective. The show had a heavy mix of fine art and fine craft, twelve exhibitors in all, arranged around the impressive winery.


All set up at the Eagle Point Winery show.

Back home from Eagle Point Winery, I had one day to turn around before setting up at the Nepean Sportsplex for the Nepean Craft Christmas Sale. This five day show is definitely in the craft domain, with mostly crafts, including a lots of jewellery and food – a definite trend in the craft circuit. I juried in promising to use our hard walls; they look amazing, with lighting nested into valances mounted atop 7 foot tall walls. Everything fastens together with clamps, however it was designed to fit into a 5 x 15 space. It will articulate, as in this case to a 10′ x 10′ space, but no matter what, it takes a lot of work to set up, particularly when two strongly opinionated people are involved. All of that, and a rental van to get the booth to the show, and back home again at the end. Also, we had to buy rugs to put down on the bare boards that are the only thing separating the booth and work from the arena ice surface. I stopped and wondered what it might be like to have the show right on the ice with everyone skating around to the booths – a reminder that not all ideas are good ones. It’s a chilly show to do, but now having seen the upper salons, admittedly warmer, I still much prefer the arena.

Hard walls decked with prints at the Nepean Craft Christmas Show.

Deck the hard walls with prints by Larry at the Nepean Craft Christmas Show.

I’m starting up with craft shows because I want to increase the profile of my press in the region, and because I hope with prints my price point will be attractive to the clientele at these shows. So far, I’ve had mixed results. One thing is for certain, at Christmas shows, any sales I make are impulse buys and often, but not always, the customer is buying for themselves. I’ve been doing the book arts shows and studio tour much longer, seven or eight years now, and people are coming and buying because they expect me to be there. Given time, and better economic times, this should happen at the craft shows.


Gearing up for the Studio Tour

September 25, 2013


Another year already! We’re gearing up here at the press for the annual Merrickville Artists’ Guild Studio Tour and Sale. You can pick up brochures at local stores in the village or at artists’ studios. Over the years, this tour has been going from strength to strength, with great variety and some serious talent in the line-up. For all the details, visit the website HERE.


Gallery Profile: Perivale Gallery, Manitoulin Island

August 18, 2013

I’ve been taking on more shows and galleries recently, so it makes sense to feature them in the blog, and revisit them on occasion. I’m not doing these in any particular order, but perhaps the furthest afield is the Perivale Gallery on Manitoulin Island (located at the northern end of Lake Huron). The photos show a stunning venue and there’s a list of artists on the website, which is rather impressive collection of Canadian artists. No wonder this venerable gallery is such an attraction. It is an honour to have my work included in their collection!





Private press in the great outdoors

July 10, 2013


This is a shot from the Ravenswing show in downtown Ottawa earlier this summer. A lovely park and beautiful fair weather greeted those who came to check out our work. It’s what I might call a show for the 99 percent — there’s even a requirement for vendors to have a substantial portion of their stock priced $20 or lower (a challenge for me – most of my work is decidedly not priced for impoverished youth, but we rose to it). As a result, the show had an edgy but friendly vibe to it, and the vital and predominantly youthful exhibitors seemed to be having a good time. The combination of these elements, and the hard work of volunteer promoters, brought steady crowds all day long.

But this little missive isn’t about Ravenswing in particular; it’s about the things that go through the mind of private press printers who bring their work into the great outdoors.

Everything I make – everything – involves paper, book board, book cloth, paste, glue and other materials. I’ve been known to brag that my books are made to doggedly endure the passage of the ages. It is a conceit, of course. There’s the great destroyer, fire, and perhaps coming in a close second is that occasional human need to rend objects of beauty or wisdom, particularly books.

When I exhibit outside, I am at the very least under tent. I leave my books exposed to the air – they seem quite happy there so long as there is no prolonged direct daylight. I don’t want to even chance them being caught for a moment in plastic sleeves in the sun. Condensation forms inside the bag.  Anything that comes out of the studio will have collected a wee bit of moisture, nothing serious, just the usual to and fro, give and take of normal humidity that you will get in any household climate that is not completely hermetically sealed. Likewise framed prints. The same issue applies for the unframed prints, which are housed in ‘peel-n-stick’ clear plastic sleeves. Of course, rain is a big concern.There’s also wind and heat.

In these strange days of climatic change, water rising ankle high or driving horizontally into the booth is no fiction. There is nothing so despairing than the wails of a watercolour artist watching pigments puddle in painterly swirls at the base of an easel. My point is that, unless you deal in stone sculpture, outdoor shows are not for the faint of heart. It doesn’t take even a hurricane force wind to lift a booth heavenward, which could leave a potter in a suicidal state (or worse, if they hang on and go up with it) and while the encaustic (wax) paintings laugh (haha!) at rain, heat can have devastating results.

I suppose some printers could hang out broadsides printed on cotton rag paper, laugh at the gods and let them get soaked, then leave them hanging and dry out. But even that is fraught with danger. If they are not completely dry when packed away, one may find when unpacking many exuberantly colourful blooms of mould, and the hateful whiff of mildew. And this can happen even without rain, if the outdoor venue is sufficiently dank. You know, like “art in the swamp” or some such in the Florida biyous, or anywhere out-of-doors in Britain.

All this being said, we take our chances. All endeavors entail risk, and if we want to sell our work, we must show. Outdoor shows tend to be affordable for vendors, and they are popular with the public. All I can do is prepare insofar as it is practical, and accept what nature doles out with a philosophical grace…. and perhaps a calming  beverage.


Grimsby Wayzgoose 2013!

April 24, 2013

“Wayzgoose” is one of those old words of mysterious origin, but what is certain is that it was a time of celebration for printers, and printers are people who particularly enjoy celebrating! Today, the term is applied to  book artists to exhibit and sell their beautiful hand crafted work. And yes,  to celebrate as well.

The Wayzgoose in Grimsby, Ontario is a venerable book arts show, founded by the renown Bill Poole, and one we’ve exhibited at for the past five or six years. Once again, we’ll have a table there offering books and prints. Hope to see you!



Marketing Art

November 26, 2011

As part of our on-going plan to ramp up our respective art businesses, we escaped from the studio this past Wednesday to attend a business marketing symposium geared for artists, namely Art Works. The venue was the amazing Shenkman Arts Centre  in Orleans, which features a massive auditorium at its center, as well as many galleries, studio spaces and bright foyers.

We’re both pretty savvy about promotion, and Holly (more so than me) has already put a lot of the ideas bandied about into practice, particularly regarding on-line promotion.

After the keynote, we split up for the break-out sessions. She registered for the sales and on-line marketing workshops, while I covered other bases with a session on applying for loans and grants, and in the afternoon, a reminder on the importance of marketing generally.

Some artists are contemptuous of marketing, or would prefer to be in their studios creating. Unless those artists have someone else handling their marketing, they are going to have a struggle before them. So I heard about niches, branding, positioning, rational benefits etc. It struck me, after listening again to all the discussions and the Q&A, just how oddly art and artists fit in with traditional or standard business models and yet, if artists want to make money at their art, they must abandon romantic notions about their work and render it as a commodity. So a successful artist must almost be split in their approach, having one attitude to the work when creating it, and another when selling it. All this, or course, in a time when galleries and representation for artists is a very exclusive matter indeed. In the end, the marketing speaker replied to questions generally that “we are creative people; come up with creative solutions for marketing.” True enough.

Overall, we liked the event and enjoyed the talks and speeches, reacquainted with some artists we know, and came away with some very interesting bits to add to our own collected wisdom.

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