Friday Interview: Erik Ruin! September 28, 2012 15:31

Happy Friday, everyone! This week I'd like to introduce you to one of the newest artists on our widely loved print wall, Erik Ruin from right here in Providence. Read on to learn a little more about the process of screenprinting and the work that Erik creates. Have a great weekend, everyone!

Please introduce yourself and tell us about your handmade business.
My name is Erik Ruin, I live in Providence RI and I make prints & publications and do some illustration, performance and public art work on the side. My friend Reid & I run a small art/literature/music imprint known as Desperate Commodities, where we make things like elaborately hand-assembled artists' books w/ digital download soundtracks. My own print work I always describe as existing in some kind of oscillation between my apocalyptic anxieties and my utopian yearnings. 

Describe your studio for us. 
Well, at present I work out of two spaces. One is in a shared space at home- a large metal table that's constantly covered in half-finished projects, rough sketches and little bits of cut paper, ink and tape. This is where I (mostly) draw, cut and paint the images that I print. I do all of my actual printing work at the AS220 Community Printshop in the Mercantile Building in downtown Providence. The Community Printshop is a much larger, brighter and better equipped place than I could afford on my own and I really love it there. Plus it keeps me from going too many days at a time without seeing other people.

Can you describe the process of screenprinting for us? 
The basic idea is that you're pushing ink through a fine mesh piece of fabric stretched on a frame. The fabric is treated with a light-sensitive emulsion- to create an image you put something opaque between the screen and a bright light. What gets hit by the light hardens, the rest washes out and you push ink through that. Most people use printouts on transparencies for this, which I stubbornly refuse to do. All my prints are created using original paper-cuts, drawing/scratching with ink on acetate, or with this magic stuff known as Rubylith.

Tell us a little bit about the artist's cooperative, Just Seeds, that you're a part of.
Justseeds is a worker's cooperative of artists spread across North America that sell prints together, make themed portfolios, do exhibits, etc. Folks are spread from Montreal to Mexico City. Most of the work falls somewhere along some vague spectrum of political radicalism/social concern.  

What do you do when you need some inspiration for a new print?
I always have the opposite problem- I have new ideas constantly, and have to fight them off so i can get the old ones done. That's not to say I don't struggle a lot along the way to getting them executed. When I get stuck, I go for a bike ride, go work in a cafe, stare at some other folks' images, talk to a friend about it- but mostly I just grumble, erase, start again. I listen to a lot of talk radio, podcasts, audiobooks while I work- I always wonder how much affect that has on the final product.

What's your most treasure handmade object that you own? 
Hard to say- as with most printmakers, I am always trading constantly with other printmakers and also with friends in bands, so I am always surrounded by beautiful and inspiring works made by friends and peers. Up on my walls right now are some particularly good ones by Meredith Stern, Swoon, Andrew Oesch, Ian Cozzens, Charlotte De Sedouy, Katrina Avocado, Jesse Purcell, Yeehaw Press, Nadia Moss and many others....

How did you become involved with Craftland?
Well, my friends Meredith Stern and Ian Cozzens both had nice things to say about selling prints at Craftland, so I thought I should give it a shot. Honestly, I was initially worried my work might be a little too dark for Craftland, but I am glad to see that's not the case! It's been great so far.

Little known fun fact about you?  
I don't know about little known, but I'm a huge music geek, and was a pirate radio DJ for a brief spell. Nowadays I channel this passion into a sporadic blog of downloadable mixes at