Spotlight on Scene First: St. Michael’s Printshop

Eric Euler, Technical Director and Master Printer at St. Michael’s Printshop, does a demonstration for Scene First guests. Photo: Ashley Harding Photography

For over 40 years now, St. Michael’s Printshop has been promoting and elevating printmaking as an art form. The artist-run print studio, currently located along Harbour Drive in downtown St. John’s, provides professional fine art printmaking facilities for established and emerging artists, as well as opportunities for artists from around the world to create in an inspiring setting, with the North Atlantic just outside the doorstep.

Checking out some of the artwork. Photo: Ashley Harding Photography

Earlier this month, a group of Business & Arts NL’s business members and their guests got to step inside the studio for a closer look at this cornerstone of our local creative community. The event was the latest offering in Business & Arts’ Scene First series, which brings the business and creative communities together through artist talks, behind-the-scenes tours and more.

Pete Soucy, Business & Arts NL’s Director of Collaborations, addresses the crowd. Photo: Ashley Harding Photography

The evening kicked off with a welcome from Pete Soucy, Business & Arts NL’s Director of Collaborations, and Dr. Ian Sutherland, Business & Arts NL board member and Dean of the School of Music at Memorial University. Next, the crowd got to learn more about the printshop’s history and significance from Eric Euler, Technical Director and Master Printer, who visited the printshop last May as artist in residence. Their residency program, which started in 1974 with the arrival of NSCAD printmaking student Landon Mackenzie, Euler says, is regarded as one of the strongest in the country.

Actor and producer Amy House gets some tips from Megan Wells, the Shop Assistant and current Don Wright Memorial Scholar at St. Michael’s Printshop. Photo: Ashley Harding Photography

“What attracted me most to the residency program is that it has a great professional setup for stone lithography. It’s no lie that it’s also one of the many reasons why I wanted to stick around to work here, to help bear the torch of this 18th century printmaking method. St. Michael’s boasts a beautiful library of large limestones which are needed for my professional practice as a lithographer,” Euler says.

“On top of the professional setup that we have for lithography, intaglio, relief, and soon screen printing, we host six visiting artists each year for a month and pay them each an artist fee of $1,500. That’s a big opportunity for any printmaking artist, why it’s so competitive, and why it took me so long to submit a successful application…Our first visiting artist of the year arrives May 1st. It’s an exciting time of year!”

Photo: Ashley Harding Photography

Euler’s enthusiasm and love of litho was on full display as he gave a tour of the facilities, explaining the printmaking processes and equipment. Guests also got the chance to flex their artistic muscles as they made their own monotypes, followed by a print-viewing with wine and cheese.

“Nothing gets me more excited than spreading the gospel of ink. It’s integral that we get new people in the shop, to demystify the printmaking process, and to help people understand the value and history of our organisation…Our hope with doing these types of events is that we can strengthen our membership and support more independent renters in the studio!” Euler says.

Photo: Ashley Harding Photography

Euler counts himself lucky to be among the local creative community and says he’ll do what he can to ensure it grows and thrives.

“I get a deep sense of personal satisfaction working with the community at St. Michael’s Printshop. It’s important and valuable work. I don’t want to see any more artist-run centres closing – especially an artist-run printshop that’s been open for nearly 50 years,” he says.

Photo: Ashley Harding Photography

“St. Michael’s was pretty close to closing just over a year ago and is another reason why I wanted to take on a leadership role within the organisation, to ensure its legacy as a national and international institution of professional printmaking. Artist-run culture has its ups and downs, but it’s encouraging and optimistic to see how far we’ve come, even within a short amount of time over the past year. It’s exciting to be part of an already deeply rich history.”

Photo: Ashley Harding Photography

St. Michael’s Printshop and Raymond’s Restaurant will host a Fine Art Auction Affair on Thursday, May 2, consisting of a sparkling reception, auction and three-course dinner. Click here for more information.

Above photos by Ashley Harding Photography: www.ashleyhardingphotography.com