Runaway Dinosaur

For the love of the music…..

Rock Art Wednesday-Jim Pollock

Posted by T Rex on May 6, 2008

I first saw Phish (who is getting their Lifetime Achievement Award tonight at the Jammy’s) play at the Philadelphia Civic Center during their New Years run in 1994. I had no idea that those stretch of dates leading to New Years Eve would involve those 4 guys from Vermont for just about every year during the next decade (give or take a hiatus). For many reading this you don’t need any introduction to this week’s artist. However, in Runaway Dinosaur’s quest to deliver the best coverage of artists of every kind, a little background on Jim Pollock.

“Jim Pollock is an internationally renown artist best known for his bold and vibrant linoleum prints. Little did he realize that the pen and ink flyers he drew in the late 1980s for the then unknown University of Vermont band Phish was the beginning of a creative relationship that would span two decades. As Phish toured relentlessly, building a massive following, they continued to embrace Jim’s uniquely organic imagery for flyers, t-shirts, cd covers, limited edition prints and tour posters.” –http://pollockprints.com/

His work with Phish is now well known and like their music his style is incredibly detailed and technical. Jim is part of the magic that existed around the band which was truly special and doesn’t doesn’t happen that often.

He has stayed busy with many projects and I wanted to get a sense of what what he’s doing now. He just received his largest request for his 08-09 Subscription Edition. This is where you pay an artists a upfront fee for a series of unmade designs and you are shipped a tube after each new creation over the course of the year….a very special and fantastic way to support an artist’s work.

He also just released a brand new poster, commemorating the release of “Vegas 96″ (from Phish’s December 6th, 1996 show in Las Vegas, NV). Hand printed on acid free stock, the poster measures 12″x20” and is individually signed by him and numbered with a limited Edition of 1,206 but now unfortunately sold out at Phish Dry Goods…..sorry folks.

Like Jim’s designs you can never know what something is going to to turn out like before you start it. You can have ideas, thoughts, desires and dreams but you never truly know until it’s finally in front of you or your tube arrives at the door. I think today after 6 months, Rock Art Wednesday’s tube has arrived…..enjoy part I of II with Jim Pollock.

RD-Can you describe the new technique/equipment you are using?

JP-My current hand press is a Nineteenth Century iron handpress. It is called a Washington and it was used as a proof press. It is not unlike a forged iron version of Ben Franklin’s press. Ben’s press was made of both metal and hardwood. My first handpress was a screwtop bookbinding press. I printed my posters I did for Phish from 1997-2001 on this press. The Washington press allows me much better registration and I can print slightly faster, although both are at a non-automated speed. For larger runs I cannot print by hand, I use Rohner Letterpress. It is a letterpress shop I have been using since 2002. I started using them after Phish came back from their hiatus in 2001-2002. I could not keep up with the demand that they were asking, doing the posters by hand and I luckily was introduced to Bruno Rohner. I print my larger linoleum blocks (18”x 24”) on Rohner Letterpress’s Heidelberg presses. I still use all three presses, depending on the poster job.

I have also recently started getting metal plates made for me by Owosso Graphics in Michigan. I create some artwork which I scan and send to them and they send me back a type-high relief plate of the art. It helps save time on carving which is also another labor intensive part of my process. I have been doing strictly hand carved prints for my art pieces.

RD-Do you do ever do any other art besides linoleum cuts?

JP-I mostly do different kinds of relief print art. I have done a lot of linoleum prints, but I have also done some wood cuts and wood engravings. I draw a good bit, but the drawings always seem to end up as plates for printing. It is definitely some kind of obsession I have. Sometimes I think I am inhabited by some ghost of a past century printer.

RD-Which bands, groups/causes are you currently designing posters for?

JP-Since the breakup of Phish I have been doing work for Umphrey’s McGee, a Chicago-based touring band and The Disco Biscuits. Other than that, I have been concentrating on the summer festivals. I am currently doing work for the third year for Ten Thousand Lakes Festival(Minnesota) and I did something for Wakarusa(Kansas) and possibly doing something for Summer Camp, a festival in central Illinois.

I have continued to do prints for non-profit organizations. Last year I did a piece for Ustorm, a music education non-profit started by Jake and Brendan, of Umphrey’s McGee. I made a snowboard design for Burton snowboard’s non-profit called Chill. This year I am doing a Rock The Earth print, which is currently available at rocktheearth.org. (See pictures below) I am also working on a Headcount print. Headcount goes to concerts to sign up music fans to vote. I feel this is an important year for voting!

RD-Do you have an apprentice or assistants?

JP- I do not have an apprentice. Jason Kaczorowski is my soul assistant. He helps me sell my work to collectors and helps me generally with feedback and support. Besides being a great help to my work, he is a great friend and an awesome photographer.

RD-Do you do private commissions?

JP- I have done private commissions a few times. Usually I do it for old friends who happen to catch me at a not too busy time. I have done birthday prints, but mostly I have done prints relating to marriage or engagement. I always wanted to do a Ketubah. (Jewish marriage contract) I was offered to do one once, but I did not have the time to dedicate to it.

Photos courtesy of Jason Kaczorowski.

Thanks to both Jim and Jason for making this happen!

If there are any questions you would like to see included in part II send them in and I’ll try and get them included when Jim gets some free time.

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