Reactor

Printing Is for Punks

by Kate Wadkins on November 16, 2011

Just Seeds table at Prints Gone Wild. (All photos by the author for Hyperallergic)

Autumn is the season for print here in New York. With PS1′s veritable print mania, the Art Book Fair in October, I was thankful Cannonball Press‘s affordable print fair, Prints Gone Wild, didn’t fall on the same weekend this year as it did in 2010. While it can be a blast to walk all the way from Long Island City to Williamsburg and back, that’s a long distance to travel for one’s love of print.

Secret Project Robot hosted the 6th annual Prints Gone Wild fair November 4 and 5 in their new location in Bushwick. Previously housed in Williamsburg’s Monster Island building, a seven-year home for street and DIY art in the neighborhood, Secret Project Robot relocated. The new space is a bit smaller, but no matter.

Kayrock Screenprinting Table

With every item under $50, Prints Gone Wild is more like a bunch of merch tables at a punk show, which is rather appropriate as the opening night always has live music. On that note, one of my favorite items was Kayrock Screenprinting’s “Rapping Paper” (featuring a number of well-known rappers).

Kayrock's "Rapping Paper"

Of course, for the more sophisticated buyer, there are plenty of gorgeous prints for cheap. Cannonball’s collection ranges from their trademark old-school poster style to artful works like those of Rie Hasegawa.

Rie Hasegawa,

While Prints Gone Wild is certainly the place to go for prints of all kinds, it’s lacking in the zine department. Obviously that’s not the focus of the event, but predictably my one purchase was a zine by Brooklyn artist STO.

STO, "Asleep at the Wheel," printed by Kayrock Screenprinting

The best part about seeing all this print work together is the weirdness of it: contemporary print artists, many of whom come from a punk background, really let their freak flags fly. STO’s zine, Asleep at the Wheel, is chock-full of crude drawings paired with ambiguous phrases: “That ship has fucking sailed,” “He didn’t deserve it but it felt good to do,” “Inside of my coat pocket, I have a map of my hunger, and you are on it,” the last which is illustrated with a man bleeding from his eye and his mouth.

When New York Magazine journalist Ashlea Halpern queried me about the recent resurgence of analog culture, I explained that punk has always revered the analog, and nay, this isn’t just a recent trend piece but a way of doing. Print media, which can be used as a punk form of production (hand-silkscreening your band’s t-shirts and album covers, for example), has true staying power. Prints Gone Wild, as well as local zine fests (like the Anarchist Book Fair, Pete’s Mini Zine Fest and NYC Zine Fest) always seem to do incredibly well. With the economy in the state it is, punk modes of production and print media are logical ways of doing.

The 6th annual Prints Gone Wild fair took place November 4 and 5 at Secret Project Robot (389 Melrose Street, Bushwick, Brooklyn).

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