Note from EQ: MEN play London's Hoxton Bar & Grill tonight and Madame JoJo's tomorrow – make sure you are there. A not-to-be-missed gig!
by Ginger from MEN
As someone who emerged as a punk rock youth, making merch has always been part of my practice. Whether its been making t-shirts with spray paint and stencils or screenprinting posters, its always been a pleasure to create multiples to share with people. For the past year I have been learning how to print Letterpress – it's a method of relief printing, developed in the mid-15th century. Type and image made of metal, wood, or polymer plates are placed in a printing press, inked and used to make impressions into paper. For one of my projects at my residency this year at the Center for Books Arts I put together wood and metal type to print packaging for our limited edition three song compact disc.
JD came into the shop with me and was the inker – choosing colors and mixing them to create other combinations! Each run of the CD is printed in different colors and has a different dingbat at the bottom. For the first and last, I used a triangle piece which is actually used as the head for an arrow, flipping it down to bring out the gay power.
When printing the second run, I found a tiny plate which read "Printed in USA" to point out where we printed the sleeves, since so much large scale printing happens out of our hands and in other countries these days.
We've also been making our own t-shirts, working out designs through collective brainstorms and drawing sessions. The most recent design comes from the Joy of Lesbian Sex, a book JD found in a tiny gay bookstore in Ottawa. The book has incredible illustrations – line drawings of lesbians as sexual beings. One of them I re-drew and added a little editorial content and printed them at an incredible neighborhood Print Shop in Braddock, PA The print shop is actually in the local library, run by an artist collective called Transformazium, also based in that town.
For our first tour, Eurotour 2009, we made two designs. One was the ace bandage tromp l'oeil tee. Unfortunately it was not as well received as we had hoped, maybe binding chests with ace bandages is not as widespread amongst queers in Europe as it is in North America?
The second design we made for Eurotour was gay power fist. We had the shirts printed in Munich, with black ink on white shirts and when we arrived we dyed them at Queerbeat Headquarters, drying them out in the backyard before we packed up to leave for tour the next day.
And sometimes there is some play that happens in the printshop!