ASCB Vendor Spotlight: Tugboat Printshop

Paul & Valerie of Tugboat Printshop

Did you go to art school? If so, where did you study?
We met in the University of South Dakota printmaking department.

What types of items will you be selling at the bazaar?
We make and sell all original woodcuts.  We like them to be different, colorful, and detailed.  We are excited every day to push the craft of our artwork to newer places.  We’ve got some really nice larger work that we’re hoping to debut at the Bazaar.

Mama Bear, color woodblock print, 2012 Tugboat Printshop

What materials do you work with?
We are traditional printmakers.  We do everything completely by hand.  At night, we use electricity, but other than that, it is exactly the same basic process as Gutenberg, but with less frills.  We use hand-tools to carve birch plywood blocks. All our ink for printing is oil based, all of our paper is archival.

Woodblock (red ink) for RV by Tugboat Printshop, 2011

How are your items made? Describe your process.
Firstly, we (Paul and Valerie) think a lot about our ideas.  Woodcut, especially color woodcut, takes a very long time, so we like to be very deliberate about what we make from start to finish. We like to think that an artist has a responsibility to their society and culture to be a kind of ‘visual bard’–to work with themes that are relevant to the times, and pertinent to others.  For example, right now, we suppose we’re talking alot about an ideal environment in our work.  After we do our thinking (there’s a lot of ideas that don’t end up getting made all the way through), we draw directly onto the woodblock, first in pencil, then in felt-tip pen, this allows us to trade the blocks back and forth and both have input on their design.  Then we carve around our drawing with hand tools, essentially turning the drawing into a “big, fancy, stamp”.  We roll ink onto the drawing, then lay paper on the ink, then run it through the press.  We generally repeat this process more or less for every color in an image–see our website for more details & process photos!

RV by Tugboat Printshop, 2011

Are you able to make your work full-time?  If not, what do you do for your day job?  We are full time artists!  It took a lot of work to get here, but we kind of always knew that we were willing to put in the crazy hours and work really hard, and had the opportunity to turn some of our other skills into side jobs (picture framing, graphic design, etc) to get us by while we worked to make Tugboat full time. We still work mad hours every day, but we love what we do.

Who are some of your favorite artists?
Well, we look at a lot of artists, and have a great deal of respect for many different ones.  Right now we’re looking at a lot of unknown artisan’s works ~ old, old artifacts from ancient times to around about the Middle Ages.

Tugboat Printshop

What are you reading/listening to right now?
We were reading baby books and we always read the daily newspaper. We listen to a lot of Bluegrass, Woody Guthrie, Carter Family, etc.  And Led Zeppelin. And Otis Redding. And we have the NPR classical station on all day long in our kitchen calm room.  We think our new little girl, Ayla, likes Harry Belafonte, but who doesn’t?

Where would you like to see yourself and your art/craft business in the next 10 years?  Well, it’s beyond time to get our operation out of the house.  We are focused on finding a separate studio for Tugboat Printshop ~ a place where we can host events with other artists, maybe have workshops, and hire helping hands. We’re also really excited about new projects in the coming months…bigger woodcuts in the works!

Visit Paul & Valerie of Tugboat Printshop at Booth #61 at our upcoming ASCB!


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