Facts about TheBlackDogPress

Why printmaking?

Through printmaking I am able to combine my love of drawing and illustration with a finished product that is a series. This means that though each print is unique (more on this below), I can offer the design multiple times. This means I can get the artwork I am so passionate about into the homes of more people that love literature. Offering an artwork as multiples in an edition also means the cost per art piece drops - printmaking as a tradition has existed to make art (and information - think back to books on a printing press!) more accessible and affordable to more people.

How do you make these prints?

Every print starts from reading and rereading through the book that I am using for inspiration. Once I have the scene or phrase or character chosen, I go through a sketching/brainstorming session. I collect images and color schemes that I feel like would be meaningful for that piece - oftentimes I do this on Pinterest (check my Pinterest page to see some examples of project boards: Jenna Cornell Art). I sketch out different designs and layouts for the images and characters, and this goes through a refining process multiple times. Once I have my idea solidified I redraw the entire illustration to scale (typically around 10 x 16" to fit on 12.5 x1 9" paper), first with pencil. This allows me to make any changes I feel are necessary once the scale is enlarged. The second and final drawing is done with ink pens. I then scan my image onto my computer to make it digital. This allows me to split the whole piece down into objects assigned specific colors - I call these my color layers. Each layer has its own color assignment and is printed out onto a piece of transparency paper. Each transparency paper layer is burned (transferred) onto a screenprinting screen. This creates a stencil-like surface that I can push colored ink through. I print each color layer with these screens (in order of lightest color to darkest). I try to include the number of colors each print has in the product description as well. Finally after all the layers have been printed and dried, I sign and number each unique print as a part of the complete edition.

What types of materials do you use?

For screenprinted works, I use silkscreens (with a mesh count of around 230), earth-friendly water-based screen inks, and 110lb French paper.

For letterpress works, I use my circa 1900 Chandler and Price clamshell press, Van Son letterpress inks, and a variety of heavyweight cardstock and papers (for that perfect embossed look and feel).

Each print is unique: 

My prints are almost all printed as limited editions. A limited edition (also known as a closed edition) means that after that edition is run (after I make the total number of prints), it is then closed by the artist. This means that I will never make that same edition of that same print. In addition to my editions being limited, each print, while a part of an edition, is created individually by me. I never send my screens and prints through a machine to get printed. I line up (register) each piece of paper, and I push the ink through the screen for each layer. This creates slight differences print to print, and it is what makes a handmade print so unique and different from mass copies made from a machine. Rather than considered as one of multiple copies, each print is a unique work of art! As such, it is signed and assigned a specific number in the limited edition that is unique to that print alone.

Each print connects to the story:

This is my favorite part. Like word choice to a lover of prose, I love including symbolism in my illustrations. Sometimes the symbols are obvious and sometimes they are small and searchable, but every time the imagery I use gives more depth of meaning to the artwork as it relates to the story that inspired it. I include many of these connections in the product details section for each print. I also often dive even further in telling about the pieces during the process of making them on my Instagram: @jenna_cornell

Why Storytelling?

The heart of TheBlackDogPress is "Steward your favorite Story." After searching and considering why I am so passionate about creating artwork that is inspired by literature, I came across this word stewardship. Some definitions I found were: to keep, or to tend, for or on behalf of another, or for another person or generation yet to come. I love this idea for the stories that not only have impacted the person I am, but have the ability to impact culture for many generations to come. I am very particular about which stories I choose for my art. I am currently working on artwork inspired by C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien, and I have many more already in mind to work through next (Madeliene L'Engle, J.K. Rowling, G.K. Chesterton, etc). I believe these stories should be told and retold and retold. What better way to "keep" these stories than to let them live as artworks - as reminders in our homes of their passion, their power, and their truth. I would love for you to join me in stewarding these epic tales.