Tag Archives: relief printing

Meet the Artist in Residence: Lya Finston

Lya Finston, artist in residence at Main Street Arts during the month of January 2020, is working in one of our two studio spaces on our second floor. We asked Lya some questions about her work and studio practice:

Lya leading a plate lithography demonstration on an etching press at Spudnik Press in Chicago

Lya leading a plate lithography demonstration on an etching press at Spudnik Press in Chicago

Q: To start off, could you please tell us about your background?
I was born in Brooklyn and raised in Cranford, NJ, which isn’t far from Elizabeth and Newark if you’re familiar with the area. In May 2018, I graduated from Oberlin College in northeast Ohio with a BFA in Studio Art and German Language. Since then, I’ve been living in Chicago, IL with two friends and my cat, Leoni.

I decided to move to Chicago in 2017, after spending the best summer of my life interning at a printshop called Hoofprint in Pilsen (now in Mckinley Park). Liz Borne and Gabe Hoare, who run the space, became lifelong friends and role models of mine that summer. As an intern, I helped them with various publishing projects, ranging in media from screenprinting and lithography to cyanotype and relief. Gabe also trained me in stone lithography that summer, which has been my primary artistic medium ever since.

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Lya assisting Florida artist Bob Mueller with his edition of large-scale woodcuts, printed and published by Hoofprint in Chicago

Q: How long have you been making artwork? Did you go to school for art?
As early as 7 years old, I aspired to be an artist, singer, spy, and primatologist (a scientist that studies primates). Monkeys in leisurely poses with double lives as high school students and super heroes remained the central focus of my work for the majority of my early years. My list of future careers narrowed out over time, but I never could shake my love for drawing.

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“Lunar Animals & Other Objects,” stone lithograph with screenprinted color

From the beginning of my time at Oberlin, I knew I’d major in art, but I fell into printmaking entirely by accident. I spent my freshman year floundering around various painting classes, uncertain where to land. I couldn’t get into the drawing class I wanted sophomore year, so, knowing nothing about it, I signed up for the same intro screenprinting class as my best friend. All of Oberlin’s print classes were taught by Kristina Paabus, who I’m infinitely blessed to still have as a mentor today. Everything about printmaking drew me in, from the process-driven nature of creating multiples, to the strong sense of community in all shared print spaces. During that first screenprinting class, I fell in love hard and fast, which left me eager to learn all the different branches of printmedia.

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“For Two,” stone lithograph

Q: Do you have a job other than making art?
For over a year and a half now, I’ve worked as a circulation assistant at the Ryerson and Burnham Library, which is an art and architecture library located within the Art Institute of Chicago. Working in a place where I’m surrounded by so many incredible artistic resources has been truly invaluable.

“Golem,” stone lithograph with screenprinted color

I bounce around between my apartment and three different studios in Chicago to make my own work. I continue to help out with publishing projects at Hoofprint in exchange for studio use and flatfile storage. I’m also a fellowship alum and current member of a community shop called Spudnik Press Cooperative, where I often go to screenprint. Because I work at the Art Institute, I have access to the School of the Art Institute’s printshop, as well. I’ve been lucky to print two stones there thus far, including the one above!

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“Trees,” screenprinted butcher paper & cardboard tubes

Q: How would you describe your work?
These days, I work primarily in lithography, screenprinting and animation. However, throughout the span of my residency at Main Street Arts, I’ll be focusing on linoleum relief printing.

I’m primarily inspired by historical phenomena that are fantastic and surreal, but still contain hints of truth, especially when they overlap with the evolution of printmedia. My recent subject matter includes giant prehistoric sloths, Kabbalistic monsters,  regional cryptozoology, and lunar aliens.

"Triplets," stone lithograph on kitakata paper

“Triplets,” stone lithograph on kitakata paper

Q: What is your process for creating a work of art?
My creative process usually starts with some research. I’ll discover something I find beautiful, strange, and a little bit scary that resonates with my identity in some way — whether it be where I live, where I have lived, the kind of printmaking I do, or my jewish upbringing. Then I’ll do lots of reading and thinking about it. I’ll spend my breaks at the Ryerson looking at lots of art books, drawing inspiration from different image compositions and collecting reference photos.

Next, I’ll start sketching out designs that contextualize my subject in a narrative, and often humorous way. Over time, I’ve learnt it’s important for my prints to tell stories, for me to laugh and make others laugh when I talk about them, and for me to exercise my love of drawing.

"Incident on S Professor St," stone lithograph

“Incident on S Professor St,” stone lithograph

Q: What are your goals for this residency?
I’ve recently become fascinated with a phenomenon known as the “Great Moon Hoax.” In 1835, a newspaper called the New York Sun published a series of articles detailing the invention of a new telescope that allowed astronomers to see all sorts of fantastic happenings on the moon, including bat-winged humanoids, vast plains of giant amethyst crystal, and blue, bipedal beavers acquainted with the use of fire. All the images supplementing these reports were printed traditionally as stone lithographs and reliefs. When these articles were released, people believed them, since publications like these were how the masses normally received “factual” information on current events.

A lithograph of the hoax's "man-bats" relaxing near a distant "lunar temple", as printed in The Sun

A lithograph of the hoax’s “man-bats” relaxing by a distant “lunar temple,” as printed in The Sun

Lunar scene, from a Welsh edition of the moon hoax

Relief print from a Welsh edition of the moon hoax

The Great Moon Hoax’s 19th century impact isn’t so different from the way misinformation pervades the internet today. During my time at Main Street Arts, I’d like to complete a project that speaks to these consistencies in both a warning and humorous light.

As an artist in residence at Main Street Arts, I plan to complete an edition of books illustrating the original text from the New York Sun’s Moon Hoax articles. I’ll render these illustrations as linoleum-cut reliefs  in order to achieve an antiquated look that’s contemporaneous with the phenomenon I’m referencing.  I’d also like to experiment with incorporating my prints into various pop-up book techniques.

Linoleum relief stamps carved by Lya and Atlan Arceo-Witzl

Linoleum relief stamps carved by Lya and Atlan Arceo-Witzl

Q: What’s next for you?
I have a few projects lined up once I return to Chicago. Last year, I started collaborating with some writer friends of mine by illustrating, designing, and screenprinting their texts in the form of short booklets. I’m currently wrapping up an 8-page review of various menu items from the chicken-finger-centric, fast food restaurant Raising Cane’s. Next on my list are a comprehensive ranking of the Air Bud franchise, and a scholarly review of a dark, imaginary sequel to the classic Adam Sandler rom com, 50 First Dates. Chicago’s thriving zine and comics scene was my main inspiration for this project, along with a growing desire to incorporate more humor and collaboration into my work.

Lya printing at Spudnik Press Cooperative in Chicago

Within the next year or two, I hope to participate in the Printer Training Program at Tamarind Institute. Tamarind is a school in Albuquerque, NM dedicated to education, research, and publishing projects in fine art lithography.

Q: Where else can we find you?
The best way to follow my work is on Instagram, where my handle is @thehottestdjinmiami. I also update my website regularly, which you can find at lyafinston.com.

Inside The Artist’s Studio with Camille Riner

Some people aren’t sure what they want to do when they grew up but I knew it would be something to do with art. I was the kid that drew bunnies for everyone in elementary school, made costumes in middle school, and took an art class every semester in high school. When I went to college orientation, I visited the art department and felt right at home. After getting my undergraduate degree at the University of South Dakota and graduating with a Master of Fine Arts at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, I taught design and printmaking at Southwestern Michigan College. In 1998 my husband and I returned to South Dakota and started our own book publishing business. 

Camille Riner at her studio desk.

Camille Riner at her studio desk.

My name is Camille Riner and I work in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Welcome to my studio! I love my sunny space and the trees and granite outcroppings I see out my windows. In front of the windows is my computer desk where I spend a lot of time, but I also have two standing benches where I draw, assemble books, carve plates, and package orders. I have a Bunch etching press which, when not in use, is the perch for the home of my two budgies. In the corner, you will find my ukulele and several piles of books. It is a warm and comfortable space that I share with the Studio Birds, Cleo and Brindle.

The yard around Camille's Studio. We have been getting lots of snow this fall.

The yard around Camille’s Studio. We have been getting lots of snow this fall.

I enjoy working in my studio and the diverse jobs awaiting me every day. This can mean working on assembling books, creating a collage on my computer, filming a new YouTube video or any of the many odd jobs we all do every day. Occasionally I teach workshops to spread the excitement about making artist books with others. Through sales of my online patterns, I have discovered that people all over the world enjoy making artist books. 

DIY pattern for Wind and Snow petal fold ornament.

DIY coloring project pattern for “Wind and Snow” petal fold ornament.

Carving bench with new block waiting to be carved.

Bench with new block waiting to be carved.

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“Sanctuary” altered accordion book.

I use allegory in my prints to investigate abstract themes based on our universal human experience. I strive to convey wonder, hope, overcoming adversity, and self-discovery. While some connect to the meaning of my pieces right away, it might not be initially obvious to others. For example, my book “Sanctuary,” in the Small Works show, uses images of thorny plants and cactus to depict the struggle and cruelty sometimes found in our world. Throughout my art, I use the rabbit to express vulnerability, the bird as a connection to nature, and the terra-cotta-colored figures as our strongest selves. I also repeatedly use the moon and stars to represent hope: hope for the moment and hope in the future. 

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“Hope Garden” limited edition, altered tunnel book.

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“Take Courage” Turkish map fold book.

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“Sky of Blue, Sea of Green” altered accordion book.

I am excited to have been selected to show my piece, “Sanctuary” in the Small Works exhibition and grateful to have the opportunity to share my work on the Main Street Arts blog. I hope you’ll check out my holiday books and DIY holiday book ornament patterns in my Etsy Shop. Thank you! 

"Community" Hungarian map fold book, hanging ornament.

“Community” Hungarian map fold book, hanging ornament.

To contact me or see more of my artist books and tutorials: 

Website: camilleriner.com
Pinterest: camille riner artist books
Instagram: @camriner
Youtube: How to Make Artist Books 


Camille Riner is one of 112 artists included in the 6th annual Small Works exhibition at Main Street Arts, a national juried exhibition of work 12 inches or less. Work from the exhibition can be previewed and purchased through the gallery’s online shop. Small Works runs through January 3, 2020.