New Orleans Community Printshop
Power – and Ink – to the People
by Vanessa Adams
The New Orleans Community Printshop was founded in 2009 by a dedicated group of print makers seeking to create an affordable and accessible printmaking space for artists and community members alike. This was both a dream and a necessity — we were motivated both by our collective desire to develop and support a thriving printmaking community and by our real need for equipment to continue to make new work. Printmaking equipment is bulky and expensive, and many of the chemicals needed require special care and disposal. At the time, the only printmaking facilities around town were in universities or private print shops. There wasn’t anywhere in New Orleans that served the wider community, so we built one!
Three years in the making, the Community Printshop is the only art space of its kind in New Orleans. We are a silkscreen shop, black and white darkroom, and community gallery, all in one and are entirely run by a core of committed volunteers. We host Drop-In-Nights three times a week, where anyone in the community can use our facilities. Through Drop-In-Nights we serve a diverse community of local artists, youth, community members and entrepreneurs. We help Drop-In-Night visitors of all skill levels to explore print media, to plan and develop artistic projects, and to build their printmaking and photography skills, as well as providing access to our discounted printmaking equipment and supplies.
The Community Printshop is not only an invaluable resource for the broader community, it is also a vital resource for the core group of volunteers who keep it running. We, the volunteers who organize and staff the print shop, have 24-hour access to the shop’s equipment and resources. We use this time to make new work and continue our printmaking practice.
What else happens at the print shop? Besides teaching people how to print, we want to showcase the variety, chaos, talent and sheer energy of the printing community in New Orleans. We curate shows in our gallery space, sometimes with over 50 participating artists represented, have parties and fundraisers and curate print shows in other venues. We also sell the work being made by our members, splitting the profit between the artists and the print shop. This revenue helps keep our programming affordable and helps support working artists.
Another important part of our programming is our outreach program. Members of the Community Printshop have run and continue to run in-school and after-school educational printmaking projects and programs in many New Orleans public schools. These programs have ranged from one-time student T-shirt printing workshops, to a two-year intensive screen printing program for gifted art high school students. Printshop members have run entrepreneurial screen-printing workshops, free women’s workshops, and workshops in partnership with local universities. We are always looking for new ways to expand our programmatic reach and actively serve different communities in New Orleans.
If you are in the area, come and check us out during our open hours. All are welcome, no experience required just be prepared to get a little ink on your clothes.
The New Orleans Community Printshop is located at 831 Elysian Fields Avenue, New Orleans, LA 70117 (between Dauphine and Burgundy streets). Contact the New Orleans Community Print Shop at firstname.lastname@example.org for information regarding its programing, events and artists.