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Rise + Wander | Blog

A Wandering Disposition and Available Prints!

Aftyn Shah

This past weekend, I visited Austin, TX for the opening reception of Art on 5th's exhibition, "A Wandering Disposition," which runs January 21st to February 15th. I created three pieces (five, if you count each panel of the triptych independently) specifically for the show, so it was a really neat experience seeing them framed and hanging alongside the work of fantastic and generally more established artists. I also loved the opportunity to hear people's responses first-hand and chat.

The obligatory photo with the exhibition info!

The obligatory photo with the exhibition info!

The artwork is, of course, print-based, but I experimented with more color than my usual works. I hand-colored the triptych and Dead Man's Cove with watercolors, while I used multiple blocks for Burlington. Because of the unique and time-intensive nature, each is part of a limited edition run.

I generally operate on an open-edition basis, in that I create my print blocks with the intention to print as many as are desired by customers for as long as the block lasts (in fact, I often print on demand). I love the accessibility (and affordability) this provides. I myself grew up unable to afford original art (Heck! It's often STILL out of my price range!), so I really love the idea of giving someone the opportunity to have original artwork they enjoy in their home or office.

That said, these pieces are more time-intensive, and it's unrealistic to think I can hand-color prints over and over. As such, they are numbered prints, with Art on Fifth having the first print of each edition (I'm currently not selling the rest just yet). I wanted to go through this difference to explain to my customers why the pricing is higher in this instance.  

These are currently available through Art on Fifth, already framed by their in-house framing studio. If you're seriously interested, please reach out to me and I'll put you in touch with the right person at the gallery. I can also send larger or additional photographs, if necessary.

And now, without further ado, the art and info!

"Yosemite Tunnel View," 1/5, 12"x12" (each) Hand-Colored Blockprint, $550

"Yosemite Tunnel View," 1/5, 12"x12" (each) Hand-Colored Blockprint, $550

"Dead Man's Cove," 1/10, 9"x11" Hand-Colored Blockprint, $300

"Dead Man's Cove," 1/10, 9"x11" Hand-Colored Blockprint, $300

"Night at Lake Champlain," 1/10, 12"x18" Multi-Color Blockprint, $400

"Night at Lake Champlain," 1/10, 12"x18" Multi-Color Blockprint, $400

Again, they're available through Art on Fifth, even if you're not in the Austin area. Just send me an email if you're seriously interested. 

Rise + Wander Shirt Pre-Sale!

Aftyn Shah

Shirts!

A lot of you have asked about putting R+W designs on shirts, and after a couple months of research and experimentation they’re finally here!

Well, actually, no, they’re not HERE, but the pre-sale is! What does that mean? Read on, my friend.

Why a Presale?

As I’m a small business (we’re talkin’ tiny, one-woman show), I’m not in a position to maintain large quantities of inventory to accommodate the colors and sizes I want to offer. To solve this, I’ve decided to host a pre-sale for a little over a week, during which you can order your shirt(s) for a discounted price. Once the pre-sale is closed, I will place the blank shirt order and start printing like a mad woman once they arrive. Orders will ship as soon as they’re ready, but no later than November 18th.

Pre-Sale Details

The pre-sale will run from October 14th through the 23rd.  Once the pre-sale closes, shirts will not be available for sale again until around early December.  Ordinarily, short-sleeve shirts will be $28, but the pre-sale price will be $25.

Shirt Details

After researching various options, I settled on American Apparel fine jersey crewneck unisex t-shirts. I appreciate their fair labor practices and that they manufacture (and create jobs) here at home in the United States. Their shirts are also incredibly soft and comfortable to wear, and take screenprint beautifully.

The four colors available are navy blue (white ink), olive green (white ink), ash grey seafoam (black ink), and heather grey (black ink).

The Screenprint Process

I'm known for creating blockprints, so you might wonder why I chose to screenprint these shirts instead. I originally planned to blockprint, just like I would an art print, but ultimately decided to screenprint because of the solid and even color the technique provides. It took some time (and mistakes!), but I figured out the process and developed my own best practices, and I’ve really enjoyed learning something new.

Rest assured, the designs are taken directly from the block! In order to maintain the integrity of the original blockprint, I decided to actually print on a transparency (just like I would paper) to then transfer to the screen via the photo-emulsion method. It would probably have been easier to print digitally, but I think it’s pretty neat that I can say the design is that much closer to being an actual blockprint.

Once the shirts are printed with fabric ink, they’re heat treated and washed, so they’ll be ready to wear when you get them!

Shirt Care

While the design is screenprinted with ink that’s intended to stand up to garment washing, there are steps you can take to lengthen the life of your shirt. Cold water, mild detergent, and turning your shirt inside-out during washes will all help keep the image looking sharp. If your dryer is like mine and the temperature is hot-hot-hot even on low, then maybe pick a delicate setting.

Returns

I completely understand that ordering a shirt online can be tricky, but please review the description and size chart in each listing carefully. If you receive your shirt and find it is the wrong size, please contact me and return it within 30 days and I will gladly exchange it if I have your size available in your color preference. If an exchange isn't an option, I will issue a refund minus the cost of shipping.

What now?

Take advantage of the pre-sale and go buy a shirt!

Print Collaboration with Rachel Roams

Aftyn Shah

I’m extremely excited to share that I’ll be collaborating with super explorer Rachel Rudwall (@rachelroams) on a series of prints. If you’ve seen the Cheena Vala print, you’ve already seen the first one!

 Rachel is a life-long explorer, from her childhood exploring Ohio’s beautiful open spaces and forests, to her worldwide adventures today. I met her as a fellow student in an International Studies class at Miami University and we bonded over a love of travel and exploring. She has gone on to an amazing career of professional wandering (everyone’s dream!).

 As described on her website (RachelRoams.com), “she has traveled six continents, lived in three countries, and journeyed through nearly 60 nations. As TV Host, Producer, EMMY-Nominated Camera Operator, and Social Media Influencer, Rachel regularly drops herself into faraway lands to relate their stories to outsiders.” Her passion for travel and particularly her enthusiasm in sharing the world with everyone is what made me want to collaborate.

 I will be using a total of four of her photos as inspiration for prints. Ten percent of the sales from these prints will go to a charity near and dear to her heart called Girls Not Brides. This awesome organization works to end child marriage and enable girls to live out their potential with a worldwide reach. An excerpt from their website details their efforts:

“Girls Not Brides is a global partnership of more than 600 civil society organizations from over 80 countries committed to ending child marriage and enabling girls to fulfill their potential.

“Members are based throughout Africa, Asia, the Middle East, Europe and the Americas. We share the conviction that every girl has the right to lead the life that she chooses and that, by ending child marriage, we can achieve a safer, healthier and more prosperous future for all.

“Stronger together, Girls Not Brides members bring child marriage to global attention, build an understanding of what it will take to end child marriage and call for the laws, policies and programmes that will make a difference in the life of millions of girls.”

As I said, I’m thrilled to collaborate with Rachel and to share her passion for the world with you through my prints. On a personal note, I believe she’s an incredible role model for anyone, but especially women who want to explore and travel on their terms. In her own words, “We live in an age in which women are permitted more and more freedoms to explore their bliss, their talents, and their world, and I'm grateful to be a part of that collective journey.”

Wonderfully said. 

Carving & Inking Mountains

Aftyn Shah

I am by no means an expert. I've never taken a class in printmaking and only took it up a little over a year ago. That said, I get a lot of questions via Instagram and email, and I wanted to take some time to document my typical tools and process. I'll start with tools, as the number one question I'm asked is, "What is that pink stuff?" 

Tools

For blocks, I either use Speedball's Speedy Carve (pink) or Blick's generic battleship grey (grey). Both are available through Blick.

My carving tools are Speedball's basic set, but I daydream about Pfeil tools. I have two handles, so that I can have my most used carving heads always available (large and small V), rather than having to change out constantly.

The paper I use varies based on the project, but most often I use heavy cardstock (tans and greys are my favorite), watercolor or cotton papers (white), or Papersource's fine papers (pretty metallic designs).

Again, ink can vary based on the project. I generally use some kind of Speedball ink, either the water-based archival quality "Printmaster" line or their oil-based ink (needs days to dry). I usually use black, but sharp eyes might notice on Instagram that I mix blue in with it. I do this because I feel it gives the black a deeper richness. Just a personal preference!

I have two brayers, one is a 2" and the other is a 4". I obviously use the smaller one for smaller projects, but I also sometimes use it for larger ones when I want the ink to really hit the small details. 

Process

I either draw a general guide directly onto the block or sketch on a paper, which I then place against the block and transfer. The key is to remember the image will be mirrored when transferring from a separate sheet.

Carving is pretty self-explanatory. It's a slow, rhythmic process that I find really relaxing, and is actually why I recommend anyone take it up, whether you think you're "artistic" or not. It's like meditation, in that you're focused on one very simple thing and you don't want your mind to wander (or you might hurt yourself or ruin the piece). 

I'd like to note that every teacher or instructional text will tell you NEVER CARVE TOWARD YOURSELF. I will wholeheartedly echo this great advice, but I totally carve toward myself sometimes, as I feel it gives me more control for some small details. Sooo, please don't use my bad habits as a proper technique, but understand you have to do what works best for you. Just always be careful and safe!

After I mix my black and blue ink, rolling the brayer in many directions on the plate (I use a simple clear plastic plate I got cheaply at Home Depot), I carefully ink up the plate. It's important to get good ink coverage on the whole thing, but especially where there will be large solid places, as it'll be very noticeable if the ink is thin there. If I get any on the table (or in this case notebook), I usually will just place a post-it over the spot to avoid it getting on the paper.

If you're wondering why I place my blocks on either a notebook or sheet or paper, it's because it makes it easier to line up the paper I'm using. I hand-press every sheet and that's just the easiest way for me to center the image. I recently bought a baren and I highly recommend it the meager investment (it's not even $20), as it is so much easier to ensure proper inking. I usually start with hands only, just to make sure everything is pressed down before using the baren for firmer pressure. 

When I pull my print, I'm sure to go at a nice even speed to avoid smudging or uneven inking. Also, make sure you have clean hands! Clean hands mean clean prints. 

And voilà! 

I hope this post answered some of the most common questions. Please don't hesitate to leave a comment or send me a message if you have further questions.

I plan to make a better effort to post on this blog, particularly around process and inspiration. Since my accident a few years ago, writing has become a tedious task, so I've been avoiding it. I really need to make a better effort to practice and this is a great place! 

R+W Monthly Feature: Special Olympics Missouri

Aftyn Shah

The motto of Special Olympics is about finding the courage to give it all you’ve got. “Giving it all you’ve got,” may be going to an event for the 1st time, swimming across a pool, running to 2nd base, or having the courage to ask a friend to dance at the State games. Special Olympics nurtures athletes & shows them there’s an abundance of caring coaches & other volunteers who will support & challenge them in their efforts to give it all.
— Isabel Hodge, 2014

Before meeting my husband, I was peripherally aware of Special Olympics, but had no sense of connection or even need to learn more. My husband, on the other hand, had been volunteering with them and taking the Polar Plunge to raise donations since high school. When he encouraged me to join him and a few of our colleagues through company-sponsored volunteerism, I mostly agreed for the opportunity to network. I never expected the experience to change my life or open my eyes to an amazing group of people (I hadn't realized I'd closed myself off, to begin with!).

The athletes themselves are incredibly enthusiastic and warm, and the volunteers and coaches are just the same. The first time I volunteered at FanQuest in McLean, VA, I didn't want the evening to end. The basketball game, the dance, the cheering, the races... it was all incredibly fun and I experienced the genuine connection and enrichment. I even ran a race partnered with one of the athletes, and he was bubbling with competitive enthusiasm as we strategized beforehand, but was wonderfully gracious when I kind of ruined it for us (I totally fell in front of thousands of people - I really wish I had a picture to share).

All this to say, this organization is amazing and really changing lives. If it could open my eyes and heart and give me such a wonderful experience, I can only imagine how endlessly beneficial it is to the actual athletes and their families and communities. 

I chose the Special Olympics motto to carve and print because it's a great reminder for all of us to give it our all every day, no matter the obstacles. I will be donating 100% of the profit from the print and 10% of general revenue to Special Olympics Missouri at the end of the month. I also encourage you to look up your local events, whether it's volunteering at games or taking the Polar Plunge. You won't regret it!

If you are interested in learning more or donating directly, please visit  Special Olympics or Special Olympics Missouri.