There are times when I’ve thought I was born a hundred years too late.

I spent over twenty five years as an art director and graphic designer and an early adopter of the computer technology which both revolutionized my field and effectively ended my design career in print and television media. Those were heady digital pioneer days in the 1990s and the early 2000s, but I still wanted to have an actual finished artifact in my hands after long hours of work. And not have it made of something that disappears when the power's turned off or a battery runs out.

Nothing has given me more satisfaction in the last few years than going back to creating art and craft with my own heart and hands. I returned to printmaking after my early introduction to it in college — specifically copper plate etching and linoleum block printing. For etching, I’ve taken my inspiration from the natural world and my love of Florida’s waters and sailing. I also found kindred souls in those who rebelled against the First Industrial Revolution: the Pre-Raphaelites and the practitioners of the Arts & Crafts Movement, such as the Roycrofters; Morris and Mackintosh. Then there are the turn-of-the-20th century illustrators who were my inspiration for all of my early pen & ink work: Howard Pyle, Arthur Rackham; Crane and Parrish. Dulac and Detmold. Franklin Booth and Joseph Clement Coll. That early passion for pen and ink is now translated to etching. It’s the expression of the line that I go back to, again and again, and my latest work reflects a more personal return to mythic and Faerie tale themes.

In addition to etching, the graphic designer in me has rediscovered the pleasures of the craft — and the inherent problem-solving — of the block print. Early 20th century Arts & Crafts period block print artists such as Frances Gearhart and Gustave Baumann are revelations and I’m inspired to bring my love of sailing and the water to my work in linocut and woodcut printmaking.

There’s so much to catch up on now. Chaucer’s quote: “the life so long, the craft so long to learn” is ringing in my ears. Time to roll up my sleeves and get some ink on my hands.

Holly Bird
Autumn, 2017