Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Relief Prints by Scott Avett

My introduction to printmaking was by professor of printmaking at East Carolina University, Michael Elhbeck. While focusing on painting as a concentration at the School of Art, I also found time and the good fortune to learn multiple printmaking processes under Elhbeck’s instruction. Among these processes was relief block printing, which I initially learned on wood and then later on linoleum.

The process has proven very useful in the moving world that I live in, where mobility is a must due to the changing workspace. Over the past five years I have used The Avett Brothers' annual New Year’s shows as a commercial outlet to produce prints using this process. In between show posters I have also completed prints using other subject matter as well.

The process of relief block printing starts with a drawing, usually in one of my many sketch books and then it is transferred, in parts, to a large piece of tracing paper to make up a unified composition. The image is then traced again on the opposite side of the tracing paper and then burnished onto a piece of linoleum. I then redraw the image over the lines I have transferred and add touches and possibly more elements to the image on the linoleum, sometimes changing it completely. Some images are drawn straight to linoleum when traveling with scrap pieces.

After the image is completely drawn in black ink on the linoleum, I began carving the unmarked areas away. This creates the “negative” space that ink will not touch, and will leave the paper exposed creating the lighter value of the image. The black areas that make up the drawing become the surface in which the ink is carried and make up the dark value of the image. Once the linoleum block is entirely carved I began the printing process.

Printing has been done in the printing department at East Carolina University with the help and support of Michael Elhbeck and others. Without the faculty within the printing department at The School of Art at ECU printing, for me, would not be possible. The prints are made in limited runs and are signed and numbered accordingly. Some will not be reproduced.

Some original drawings, leading to the final composition, can be purchase at Envoy Gallery located in New York City’s Lower East side or at envoygallery.com. You can view them here. Prints are available also through envoy gallery or Applewood Gallery of Charlotte NC.


  1. scott,

    i am so glad you posted the illustrated how-to since many folks don't know what goes into the making of something like that, although i do wish you had given an estimated time input. it was also nice to vicariously revisit the ecu print lab. it's great that they let you come back & use the facilities. congrats on successfully integrating your multitalents!

    ecu metals mfa

  2. Don't you hate it when people ask you how long it takes. I mean, if this is something you love to do it is not like logging hours at the office.

  3. That's fascinating and something I've always wanted to learn. Unfortunately I don't have the talent for it.

  4. So where do I find an original Scott Avett print? My daughter Meghan went to/graduated from ECU in animation and has a proof (helped you print an edition?) For several years has an original on her wish list...I can't find. Help?