Swoon Experiments with Letterpress, Fairytale, and Myth

The communication methods of public advertising has always been aided by the repetition of the message by way of the printing press. Whether selling soap, snake oil, or announcing a public hanging, the multiples put your message in many hands quickly. When artist Jenny Holzer created her Inflammatory Essays as posters in the 1970s, her “hot, flaming, nasty things,” as she called them, needed the immediacy afforded by the format for spreading the word on New York Streets.

Swoon. Owls. (photo courtesy of Swoon Studio)

Similarly New York graff duo REVS/COST relied on the multiples of photocopies that could be quickly wheatpasted to spread their tags and cryptic messages on phone booths and street lamp poles in 90s. The practice quickly morphed with wild posting in the early 2000s when wheatpasters like Faile and Bast found that their more graphic screen prints and copyshop replications could easily be slapped up in seconds on construction sites.

With the hand carved and inked linotype prints Swoon began sharing her family of characters and their metaphors on city walls as well – a way to share the same story with many on the street and in the gallery.

Swoon. Red Riding Hood. (photo courtesy of Swoon Studio)

Today Swoon introduces a new method to her print practice by replicating the organic Rorschach imagery you’ve seen on her wall coverings in exhibitions. Evocative of early book illustrations and diagrams melting with psychologists’ tools of analysis, she tells us that these new prints are “drawn from fairytale, childhood imagery, and myth.”

Swoon. “The Canyon”  Contemporary Arts Center Cincinnati. (photo © Tod Seelie)

It’s an interesting overlapping of practices that bring us to this point – as “each of these works is adapted from cutouts that Swoon created to be the basis for the repeat patterned wallpaper that covered the walls of her recent retrospective, titled ‘The Canyon’ at the Contemporary Arts Center,” says Kristine Virsis, manager of her studio. Working with Haven Press to investigate new letterpress print methods, they say these new editions are coming out tomorrow. It will be interesting to see where this new direction in printing leads Swoon, and if any of it will make it to the street.

To learn more about the new letterpress print set release please visit SwoonStudio.org