Find Inspiration in Another Artist's Process: Taking a Workshop from Illustrator Edel Rodriguez

Contributed by Melissa Kojima

If you're staring at the blank page or the blank screen and can't think of what to create, why not see what someone else is doing? Sure, you've kept many sketchbooks full of ideas and a few of those where scribbled on a dirty cocktail napkin as you enjoyed a beer with a friend. But right now, when you need a hit of inspiration, the dirty napkin ain't doin' it for you. Where else can you go for a jolt of creativity? You might find it by learning another artist's process.

When I took award-winning Edel Rodriguez's printmaking workshop, I found a lot of inspiration. From the photos below, you can see that Edel is the one in the green striped polo shirt, and if you were wondering, I'm the one in the gray hooded sweatshirt.

He taught us his whole process. Until then, it was a mystery to me. I think he liked that so many people thought his process was more complicated because it has many of the qualities and textures of screen prints or etchings. But it is much simpler, and easier than making those kinds of prints.

He uses mono-printing techniques to get the same qualities of etchings or screen prints. Since his work must be finished quickly for editorial work, this process works well. For the dark lines, he imitates the etching look by rolling oil based printing paint on a paper and then draws on the back of it and onto whatever surface he wants the lines upon. For the color, he either uses chalk pastels which he applies before he draws the dark lines on top of them or uses acrylic paint. If it is acrylic paint, he rolls out the color onto a roller and applies it on a mask he had cut out from frisket film with a razor blade.

He makes sure that the color isn't even and perfectly solid, the way that screen printing can look if the color isn't evenly distributed upon the cloth. He said he also looks for different things to give strange and interesting textures to his work. For example, bubble wrap can give the evenly distributed dots for a background or a person's clothing or the center of a flower. Just roll acrylic paint on the bubbles and pat it down onto whatever surface you want it.

Seeing what I thought was a complex process simplified really inspired me. It also made me view bubble wrap as I had never seen it before. And it made me keep an eye out for turning the mundane object into something unexpected and fun.


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