I hope I’m not going to have to change the name of this blog; Bushwick Print Lab is yet another space (like Silent Barn and Arch P&D) that is—technically, and only barely—in Queens. But it’s such a neat space, I had to cover it. BPL is a collective silkscreen studio where you can contract printing projects from very talented printers, or rent space and time to do it yourself. They offer basic silkscreening and textile printing workshops, too. Hourly rates begin at $25, monthly at $125, and their equipment includes a 44-inch exposure unit, a coating and drying room, a power washer and back-lit washout, flatstock printing tables, large paper drying racks, four-color tabletop presses, a flash unit, discounted paper stock, t-shirts, and inks—all the tools a screenprinter needs. In addition to being involved in the greater Bushwick art community, BPL does month-long art shows whenever someone wants to curate one. So read my interview with Ray, and then get in touch with him to start doing some projects!
brooklyn spaces: How do clients find you?
Ray: It’s mostly friends of friends and word of mouth, although if you Google “silkscreen” and “Brooklyn,” we come up pretty high. There aren’t a lot of labs like us. We have most of the tools that you need, although it’s not necessarily the highest-end, or the most expensive production. We’re more DIY, for artists. There are a few others, like ABC No Rio is the one that most people know, where you put $5 in the coffee can and you coat your screen and go, but we’re a little more professional, for things that have to be precise, with no fingerprints.
brooklyn spaces: What kinds of clients do you get?
Ray: We’re pretty affordable and open to different people, so it’s a little bit of everything. We have high school kids come here, and we have career printmakers. We get a lot of people from the digital art world who want to do something more physical. We get activists; we just did the plaques for the Ghost Bike Project, and the Yes Men have a screen here right now. We made a screen for Swimming Cities. SVA and Parsons have even had classes come here. And then of course lots people from bands.
brooklyn spaces: Is it just you running the whole thing? Is there a staff?
Ray: It’s sort of a benevolent dictatorship. I’m the one who runs it, and I tend to use the space more than everyone else because I’m doing my own jobs to help pay for it. But there’s a few other people who have been helping out: Kevin from Just Seeds works here one day a week, and Melissa, who’s an assistant for Molly Crabapple and does Dr. Sketchy stuff, she does admin assistance. And we had an intern, Ben, he’s from this Walkabout program in Westchester, he was here for six weeks. That‘s basically the staff.
brooklyn spaces: Why did you pick this neighborhood?
Ray: It’s the neighborhood I know, I’ve been working out here for four or five years. And my friend Todd, he and all these people from Graffiti Research Lab needed to move studios, so we moved in together. I love the building, and our neighbors are great, like Yarn Wire, Regina Rex Galleries, Brooklyn Salsa Company, and Lang Percussion. Plus it’s just a nice area. We’re technically in Queens, which is interesting. You can really tell; it’s industrial Bushwick until you get to Cypress, and then it’s all row houses. It’s a whole other life in Queens, it turns out.
brooklyn spaces: Anything else you want to tell the world about BPL?
Ray: We’re happy to work with people, and we try to do it as affordably as possible. It’s been really nice doing this, everybody who works is here really cool and supportive and interested in each other’s projects. It’s been working out. I’m really happy about everything.
Like this? Read about more makers: Werdink, Gowanus Print Lab, Pickett Furniture, A Wrecked Tangle Press, Metropolis Soap, 6 Charles Place, Arch P&D, Gowanus Ballroom, Urbanglass, Better Than Jam, 3rd Ward