To mark the opening of our newly renovated space, Ryan Mowery, (designer, digital illustrator, and freestyle rapper) created three 24” x 36”custom prints for the entryway of the kitchen. Here are his thoughts on how and why he made them.
Ink to Wood
Everything is digital now. Everything. Most companies are going paperless, and processes that used to require expensive machines and hundreds of hours have been reduced to one person on a laptop in a coffee shop. These scanned objects printed onto wood are meant to embrace the digital methods of creation while honoring traditional methods of printmaking.
The process is time consuming but I find it very rewarding. It helps teach me patience. I like having to go through each step and laboring over the smallest details. It is hard to skip steps and come out with a polished final piece. It’s therapeutic and relaxing.
A little about the process
I started by scanning many different silverware utensils on a flatbed scanner. Given that these objects were not flat, capturing the details in the curves and shapes was a bit tricky, but care in positioning and Photoshop helped a lot.
Using Photoshop, I completely de-saturated the image. While the transfers would’ve worked with color, I felt a darker grayscale tone would be more effective. I also prefer the grayscale look because it communicates conceptually a lot clearer than a color image would. I always try to increase contrast without losing the detail in the gray tones. Darker tones transfer really well, but the real shape of each object comes from the gray tones.
I then printed out the images full size, using toner ink. Toner ink transfers cleaner, and the darker colors are much fuller and richer. Toner heats up and melts onto the paper as opposed to inkjet, which is printed as droplets that dry onto the paper. It is important to print the image reversed, so it transfers facing the correct way.
To transfer the image, I covered the wood surface Using Liquitex Matte Medium. This material adhered the paper to the wood. Then I let it dry overnight.
I soaked the dry print/wood in water and gently scraped off the paper, without removing the toner from the wood. Removing the paper was time consuming and required a couple rounds of rubbing and scraping.
Once all the paper was off, I waited for the wood to dry. Then I put a coat of paint thinner over the top. This helped remove some of the excess paper left from the transfer and gives the some depth to the print. For the final output, I gave the print a coat of Briwax.
MY Final thoughts
It’s exciting to incorporate other processes and materials into my work. I primarily work digitally so getting to use tangible materials and combining digital with analog workflows was a nice change of pace.