By C. Aileen Blaine
For those who are hard-pressed to learn more about the printmaking process, the latest Red Press Collaborative live showcase is here to scratch that itch. Youngstown State University’s visual and dramatic arts department is hosting a week-long printmaking program featuring guest artist Richard Repasky.
The Chicago-based lithographer combines his passions for the history of graphic art and parody to educate and share his experiences with young artists across the country.
“A lot of [my inspiration] is things that I find funny or cryptically autobiographical. There’s a lot of parody in my love for graphic art and the lithographers of the early 20th century,” he said.
Repasky came to the Youngstown area at the request of fine arts department professor Joseph D’Uva. The two have known each other for over 20 years, since they met at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago as students. Though the invite came in 2019, the pandemic put a hold on Repasky’s arrival to the university as a featured artist under the Red Press Collaborative.
As the first in-person collaborative program since 2019, D’Uva said it’s good to be able to provide students with an intimate atmosphere to see firsthand how art is made.
“We tried to do one virtually last year, and it was difficult to do,” he said. “It wasn’t as fun. The students didn’t get the nice personal interaction with the artist — that’s the main part.”
The Red Press Collaborative is a program promoting fine art printmaking in the Mahoning Valley and at the university. Visiting guest artists team up with students to create original prints. Previous years’ prints and artworks will be on display and available for sale, and proceeds go toward funding abroad courses through YSU and bringing more artists to the school.
“The people from the art department get a chance to get that one-on-one experience,” D’Uva said.
This year’s program demonstrates various types of printmaking methods, such as intaglio, relief, lithography, screen and digital printing. Repasky’s main passion comes out through lithography, which is a method of printing from a flat surface — such as a stone or metal plate — on which the blank surface is ink-repellent and the image is ink-receptive. The unnecessary ink is then able to be removed without disturbing the image.
In addition to mentoring students on the most effective methods and approaches to creating attention-grabbing works, Repasky also offers some perspective on the realities of being an artist.
“Even in my generation, it wasn’t uncommon to have three teaching jobs or a full-time job — that was life, and you tried to make art in whatever fashion you could, wherever you could,” he said.
Another issue budding artists may encounter is the high cost of materials and tools, which can hinder the creative process to some degree, according to Repasky. Even finding a space to store equipment and work is no easy matter. But even so, there are many options for artists and creative minds to do what they love, whether it be through contracts or commissions, web design, photography and more.
“If you are absolutely passionate about it, go for it. There are easier ways to make money, but they aren’t as rewarding,” Repasky said.
As the program is free and open to the public, those interested can observe the showcase from 10 a.m.–12 p.m. and 1:30–4 p.m. April 4–8 in Bliss Hall room 4025.