Studio Visit: Justin Marable

Justin Marable is a printmaker who works out of his studio which is located in a historic and charming neighborhood in Topeka, KS (update: Justin is now a Lawrence, KS resident!). His works are primarily silk screens that explore the element of rural decay occurring in the heartlands of America. However, this isn’t to imply that the works are unattractive in any way. In fact, the colors and compositions of his works are rich and beautiful and most everyone who is from the area connects to the imagery and colors of the Midwest. He has huge body of work and is clearly passionate about what he does.

From his artist’s statement:

The history of a place, as well as its land and inhabitants, are all vitally important in defining a community’s environmental and social conditions. In my prints I romanticize this idea with the use of rural landscape and landmarks. These rural devices serve to emphasize the ever-growing abandonment of small towns and farmland of the Midwest. With the medium of serigraphy, or screen printing, I can express the man-made qualities of rural architecture with a photographic stencil technique.

Justin is also a super nice guy and was recently kind enough to invite me over to take a look at his studio and talk about his work and his process.

Print 1

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robinsonparade2.jpg

powhattan11.jpg

robinson11.jpg

1.jpeg

bluebarn.jpg

gracecathedral1.jpg

Justin has a very comfortable workspace that is perfect for the type of work that he does. Serigraphy (silk screening) is a very labor and time intensive process and a typical piece takes around 3 weeks from start to finish. It can also be messy since there are a lot of chemicals, inks and water involved with the process, but he’s set the space up perfectly so that every step has it’s own area.

Justin Marable’s Studio

Poster on Wall

I loved seeing the stuff that hangs on Justin’s walls.Buffalo on wall

Wall decoration

Pin Ball machine

How cool is this pinball machine?
Painting

Apron on wall

There are a few vital pieces of equipment that are needed for serigraphy. Aprons are certainly one of them.
Coffee Cups

And fuel for those late night work sessions is a must!

Exposure Unit

This is Justin’s exposure unit which is used for creating a photo stencil on a screen. These units make this process go MUCH easier! This particular unit was rescued from being thrown away and is still in great shape.

Tracing on light table

A light table is used for tracing and cutting out stencils. Justin’s is an old drawing desk with a glass insert and a lamp underneath and is probably way better than any of the commercial ones you can buy.

Brushes

Brushes, of course, are useful for applying any number of things to the screen like ink and drawing fluid, or just for painting ink directly onto paper. As a side note, the colorful backgrounds in Justin’s silkscreens are all monoprints. This means that each one is unique and so, although the rural imagery might be the same for a run of 6 prints, the colored sky is unique in each one.

Ink Cups

Pens and pencils

Drawing

Justin also does a good deal of drawing and some of his newer works look at socially and environmentally responsible means of travel and living. He is a very eco-conscious person and is even considering doing some straw-bale construction behind his house!

Drawing

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Drying Rack

Once a layer of ink is pulled through the screen onto paper, they are set to dry in these drying racks. Acrylic ink dries in a matter of minutes, but even then, these racks make it possible to do multiple prints at once.

Light table tracing

Light Table

A little bit about the silk screening process: first a stencil is cut out of paper or is made into a photo stencil using chemicals.

Stencil

A photo stencil requires a high contrast image like the one above. Justin has his own method of getting these printed onto acetate, so I won’t reveal his secret . . .

Pouring ink on the screen

The ink is applied to the screen and then pushed through using a squeegee.

Pulling ink through the screen

Test Printing

Wherever there is a hole in the stencil, the ink will pass through. Here is a layer of white ink being lined up for printing on top of the colored background.

White print on background

Washout of screen

Once all the prints are made with that color, the ink is washed out of the screen with a pressure washer.power washing

And the process is done!

Table Saw

. . . except not quite. Justin also has a woodworking area of his shop where he builds his own custom frames! Admittedly, not his favorite part of the process, the frames do look really nice hanging up in a gallery, so it’s well worth the effort.

Wood Pile

Gallery setup

These are images from the show at the Signs of Life Gallery. The colors are striking on screen, but really need to be seen in person to get the true effect. They’re incredible!

Print in gallery

Print in gallery

Print in gallery

Print in gallery

Print in gallery

Print in gallery

Justin has work up at the Signs of Life Gallery in downtown Lawrence, KS as well as at the Community Mercantile through most of the Spring of 2008. Go check them out and buy something if you like it! His website, www.justinmarable.com, also lists all of his upcoming shows and has a large online gallery of his work.

A huge thanks goes out to Justin for letting me into his studio to look around and watch him at work.


  • melrmeyer

    This is very lovely work! Nice job documenting the process. I am lucky to know you both!

  • melrmeyer

    This is very lovely work! Nice job documenting the process. I am lucky to know you both!

  • smoore123

    What an awsome setup, Justin. Des would be jealous. Careful you don’t give away trade secrets with those pictures.

  • smoore123

    What an awsome setup, Justin. Des would be jealous. Careful you don’t give away trade secrets with those pictures.

  • aunt harriet

    Wow, what great intense work you do! I love it, and still am very much enjoying the print you made me. I really like your studio too.
    Love to you both

  • aunt harriet

    Wow, what great intense work you do! I love it, and still am very much enjoying the print you made me. I really like your studio too.
    Love to you both

  • Leanda May

    Saw your article in the Hiawatha world. Talked to your Mom in Lindy’s and she is very proud of you. Now I know why as I took a walk through your web. Very good stuff. Keep up the good work.

  • Leanda May

    Saw your article in the Hiawatha world. Talked to your Mom in Lindy’s and she is very proud of you. Now I know why as I took a walk through your web. Very good stuff. Keep up the good work.

  • your studio tours are so interesting. i love his work.

  • your studio tours are so interesting. i love his work.

  • LauraDalrymple

    I love your work.

  • I love your work.

  • Justin Marable also will be showing his works and signing his book “Noco. … DeShazers Studio, 909 ½ S. Kansas Ave.: Jewelry by Rachel Hagen and Kyle