Less than five miles away on the sunny and serene campus of Syracuse University in the spacious Comstock Art Facility, Landon Perkins is layering fine arts printmaking with hand-set type, letterpress, and relief cuts with a touch of mixed-media curiosity. Between ink runs, we caught up with the graduate student on pursuing his MFA, his love for combining a hybrid of old-school printing techniques & the buzz of photopolymer plate technology, and his work at Foxhill press.
PRINTING NEIGHBORS My name is Landon M. Perkins and I also go by the press name “Foxhill.” I’m a printmaker and designer currently pursuing an MFA in printmaking at Syracuse University in New York. I’m a native to Tallahassee, Florida, where I attended Florida State University and achieved a BFA in Studio Art in 2014.
LETTERPRESS LOVIN’ I first became aware of letterpress when I visited Denise Bookwalter’s SCAP (Small Craft Advisory Press) in Tallahassee, Florida. I was immediately drawn to letterpress because it seemed to be a hybrid of my favorite mediums of silkscreening and relief printing. I interned at SCAP earlier this summer for a few months and learned how to make photopolymer plates as well as helped assist book artist Jessica Peterson in letterpressing an edition of artist books she was creating.
EXCITEMENT IN THE EMPIRE STATE The printshop I currently work in is the Comstock Art Facility at Syracuse University. We have so much great equipment it’s hard to list it all! I think what really stands out about our printmaking facility is just the huge array of presses available. You can literally walk 20 feet and pass various presses ranging in relief, intaglio, litho and letterpress. We also have some of the original Goudy type in our letterpress room!
PRINTING MENTORS I’ve always been a “do-it-yourself” kind of person. I used to think I was only good at design work and was afraid to dive into the fine art field, until one day, I grew bored of simply creating designs on a computer and then printing them out on standard size paper with an ink jet printer. I had no control over the quality of the paper and ink fed into the printer. I felt like I was doing myself an injustice by not knowing how to really print the designs I was creating at the end of the day. This all changed when I met Denise Bookwalter at Florida State University. She taught and mentored me in the field of printmaking until I graduated from FSU in the Spring of 2014
THE DESIGNER & PRINTER I am currently a printer and a freelance designer. To me, design and print go hand in hand with each other; you can’t successfully do one without the other.
THE CREATIVE PROCESS My process normally begins with some type of light bulb or thought going through my head regarding the general work I am creating at that moment in time. I then try to sketch out what’s in my head and translate that to paper. Sometimes it works out, often times it doesn’t. Once I get past that initial phase and like the direction that my general design is heading, I open up Adobe Illustrator and re-draw my design, which can be eye twitching sometimes, but as the saying goes, “the devil is in the detail.”
Once that’s finished I normally drag that design into Adobe Photoshop and tinker away, changing little things I’m not sure anyone else would even notice at the end of the day. The hardest part about design for me is realizing when you’re at a stopping point and when something is finished. I find that simplicity is key when making a good design and that’s often the hardest thing to do as a designer.
FULL TIME FUN I am currently printing full-time as a graduate student and couldn’t be happier about it! I’ve been working in the field of printmaking now for three years and feel like I am still learning something new everyday that makes my jaw hit the floor and realize, “you can do that in printmaking!?” My ultimate end goal is to one day become a professor teaching in the field of printmaking.
PRINTING FEATS While I don’t have a lot of accomplishments yet (as I am only beginning to work in the field of printmaking), what I am most proud of right now is just to be given the opportunity to work towards an MFA in printmaking at Syracuse University. My heart sank for a while when I was applying to graduate schools and looking at the statistics of applicants accepted into any given school.
The other accomplishment I am very proud of is finishing a three-month long piece for my graduation thesis titled “Metropolis III.” It is the largest piece I have ever worked on, weighing 200 pounds and measuring 5 ft by 8ft. For three months, I layered a giant custom-built piece of wood with relief prints I created, papers of different textures, sizes and colors and miscellaneous items. I was working to mimic the complexity of a city district building on top of itself. I am very much interested in the marks humans and machines are leaving in the world. The destruction of the human environment you find in most cities is just as important as its construction.
PRESS WISH LIST I have yet to own my own press, as one is not rolling in money as a graduate student. But I hope to one day buy a Vandercook 219 and if need be, refurbish it on my own as a do-it-yourself project.
BOXCAR’S ROLE I first learned about Boxcar from Allison Milham who is a printmaking teacher at FSU and, long story short, she told me all about Boxcar Press and their very quick turnaround with photopolymer plates for letterpress. Funny story, I’m actually in the middle of designing and ordering my first plate from Boxcar to letterpress some business cards!
SHOP TIPS The only advice I can share this far into my printmaking career is to work hard and don’t be afraid to try new techniques and fail at them. I like to consider myself a good printmaker, but that’s only because I’ve failed a lot learning the practice and I know I am going to continue to fail as I work toward an MFA in printmaking. Hopefully if I fail enough, that one day I’ll become a great printmaker.
WHAT’S NEXT My plans for 2015 are currently to visit and explore Canada and various northeast cities in my free time, get the ball rolling on finding clients for freelance design work. I’m also planning on attending the annual printmaking convention at SGC in Knoxville, Tennessee for the first time!
Huge round of thanks out to Landon of Foxhill for letting us get a sneak peek inside his wonderful printing world!