Offset Printing with A.I.R. Alex Lukas

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Alex Lukas is AS220′s Artist in Residence for March. Lukas hails from Cambridge, received a degree in Illustration from RISD, and is now based out of Philadelphia. His work has been featured in Juxtapoz Magazine, the Portland Mercury, the Boston Globe, and many other publications.

Alex will present a series of offset lithograph prints that he has produced on our offset press, this Thursday evening at 6pm in the 95 Empire Black Box Theater. He’ll also screen footage from a film documenting the abandoned East Side Railroad tunnel. He sat down with Printshop Manager Lara Henderson for this interview.

You’ve been at AS220 now for a little under a month.  Can you talk about what you’ve been working on?
I’ve been working a lot on the offset press with Jacque, which has been really exciting for me.  I’ve watched an offset press run, but never operated one myself.  I’ve also been collaborating with my friend Ryan Sheapare, attempting to do a movie in the East Side Railway Tunnel, but it’s been a learning experience without many concrete results.


Talk about your experience here with offset printing, and what you’ve learned.
I’m really excited by the offset process. From a background making ‘zines, offset is this unobtainable medium, because commercially, you have minimums of a thousand, and it’s so expensive. But offset has the means to reproduce images in a way other mediums can’t replicate, and colors layer up in a way that I’m not used to thinking about with silkscreen.  It’s really exciting for me to have access to a tool that I wouldn’t otherwise, and learning how to actually work the press, which I am by no means perfect at yet, has influenced the process. Actually doing it yourself is much more rewarding than just sending off a file. Continuing to figure out the technical intricacies is something I’m really excited for.

Alex Lukas, detail of color seperations


In Philadelphia you were involved with Space 1026. What are some ways that AS220 and Space 1026 are similar or different?
There seems to be a similarity in like-minded people, but the goals are different.  I really like that AS220 has it’s shit together. That isn’t to say 1026 doesn’t by any means, but the goals are very different, even if they start from a similar place.  AS220 seems to be really striving to be out in the community and accessible to all. Space 1026 has always existed as an artist collective with studios, a collectively-run gallery, and a printshop, but we don’t really have the infrastructure to make our printshop accessible to the public or the space to really grow. It’s great to come here and see people teaching classes, sharing knowledge, and using an organized system to reserve time.  And the sort of dialogue that happens when you aren’t just making stuff around people from the same background as you.  Not to talk ill on 1026, which I’ve loved and had a long relationship with, but it’s so exciting to see a place realizing a lot of the ideas we’ve talked about at 1026 but never had materialize.


What’s next for you?
I have a gallery show in May in San Francisco. But more immediately, my plan for this week is to work on some pages for a ‘zine on the offset press.  While in Providence I’ve been walking around a lot and taking pictures.  The way I make a lot of my work is by alternating periods of making in the studio and periods of gathering. This has been a great month for gathering ideas. And certainly making stuff, but getting a lot of ideas for stuff to make in the future.


We hope to have you come back and use the offset press!
Yeah, I think that gets at what is so nice about AS220. At other places it seems like you take a class, and then you take another class, and then if you want, you take another class. I really like that the AS220 Printshop is geared towards taking a class to learn a skill, and then using it on your own. So yeah, I’ll be back.