The Print Lab is deep in the bowels of Gowanus. It’s a nice stroll from the train, unless you happen to visit during a freak blizzard Halloween weekend like I did, in which case it’s kind of a cold, wet slog. But totally worth the trip! The space is huge and comfy and inviting, with great art on the walls, studio members hard at work at the many tables and machines, and incredibly friendly teachers and staff. I was invited to take the Intro to Screenprinting class, which (thankfully) covered all the basics, and though I’ve got no drawing eye whatsoever and had never even touched a screen before, I totally made a shirt that I’m not at all embarrassed to wear.
The intro class is only one of many offered at the Print Lab; there’s printing classes for skateboards and posters and stationary, digital classes on Photoshop and Indesign and website-building, there’s classes for kids, classes for DIY weddings, they even had a class on how to jailbreak your iPhone. Of course, they could also do everything for you, offering all kinds of large-format and specialty-ink printing services for fancy projects. Or if you already know what you’re doing and want to DIY it, you can become a member, gaining access to all the tools, paints, supplies, computers, machinery, and anything else you could possibly need. So go print something! But first click through for my interview with Amy, the lab’s marketing director.
brooklyn spaces: What are some of your more unusual classes?
Amy: There’s lots. We have one on printing in repeat, for making fabric or wallpaper, we have a specialty inks class where you get to use flocking and foils and glitter, we have digital classes that are geared toward helping you make your designs appropriate for screenprinting, all kinds of things.
brooklyn spaces: There are also events here, right?
Amy: Yup. Last weekend we had a Halloween event, where kids got to have characters screenprinted on their clothes. We also do collaborative events; we did a party with Sobe and a craft night with Etsy. About once a month we have an opening reception for the new art exhibit.
brooklyn spaces: Is the art done by Print Lab members?
Amy: Sometimes, but this one was curated by the art collective Six Betweens. Next month we’re doing an exhibit with the Graphic Artists Guild, and after that is a student show called “The Art of Rebellion.” Screenprinting lends itself to protest so well, because it’s really affordable, you can make multiples easily, and you can really deliver a message.
brooklyn spaces: What’s the screenprinting community like? Do you guys get together and talk shop?
Amy: Sure, we’re friendly, we’re fun, we like to get along with everybody. We’re buddies with USA Tees, we have a good relationship with The Arm, a letterpress studio in Williamsburg, and also with the Brooklyn Artists Gym, which is just down the street. It’s really exciting to be in Gowanus right now, part of the growing artist community.
brooklyn spaces: Who are some of your exciting clients or members?
Amy: We worked with one Brazillian designer doing specialty printing, glitter and things like that, and we do some contract work with the fabric designer Scott Hill, who runs Old Village Hall. Two of our long-term members, Anthony Graves and Carla Herrera-Prats, are part of Camel Collective, and they were featured in Mass MoCA’s “The Workers” show. Some other great members are painter Jeremy Penn, illustrator Erin Gallagher, graphic artist Norm Ibarra, and printmaker Andreas Ekberg. The artists here do really amazing things.
brooklyn spaces: What’s the best part of working at a printshop?
Amy: I just think it’s exciting to be a part of a space that encourages people to make things, and to work in a way that they might not be able to on their own. I mean, you can screenprint at home, but it’s certainly very difficult, especially in New York with tiny shoebox apartments. So I love being able to facilitate people having the space they need to work and create.
Like this? Read about more makers: Pickett Furniture, 6 Charles Place, Werdink, Bushwick Print Lab, A Wrecked Tangle Press, Metropolis Soap, Arch P&D, Gowanus Ballroom, Urbanglass, Better Than Jam, 3rd Ward