‘Art is our passion. Custom-printing on wood is our expertise’
The popularity of wood prints has been growing for quite some time now as people look to decorate their house with not only high-quality art but also sustainable products. Prints on Wood is a story that began over a decade ago. Or perhaps long, long before… To a time of wanderlust and Big Dreams; dirty paws and clean slates; to kids just being kids on a constant quest for more crayons, more paint and more faces to colour in! ‘Art’ never really begins or ends, it just IS. Erin and Derric Swinfard – the faces and united force behind Prints on Wood – remind us that art is part of who we are, it’s there to embrace and re-invent. With over five years to practice and fine-tune their methods, the husband and wife duo have perfected the process of printing custom artwork and photos directly on wood. And they’ve got a whole lot to smile about (proof shown further down!). We’d be smiling too considering some of the artists they’ve collaborated and made friends with – Shepard Fairey, Jeff Soto and D*Face to name a few! Ultimately, Prints on Wood is a story that’s got a whole lotta pages still to be printed…
I don’t listen to what art critics say. I don’t know anybody who needs a critic to find out what art is’-Jean-Michel Basquiat
What are the main ‘aesthetic’ or other benefits when printing on wood? Is it any better for the environment than printing on canvas?
I would definitely say it’s the same for the environment as canvas because all canvas wraps have wood in the frames. To help offset the environmental impact, we do donate one dollar from every order to buy one square meter of rain forest (click here). And we have 200 solar panels on our roof generating 100% of the energy we use from the sun.
Do you remember the first print you did back in 2007?
We have been printing on wood for years, it’s nothing new… Prints on Wood really came from an art show we organized and produced for Sea Shepherd Conservation Society called Sea No Evil. During the show we began printing fine art wood prints with Shepard Fairey and Gary Baseman.
Though each piece is unique, these prints have one thing in common: their canvas. Each with its unique texture can influence both the technique of creating the prints and the final aesthetic of the piece. The wooden canvas is given life with different types of mediums – photography to illustration – does either of you maybe have a secret love for one particular medium and technique?
I really love simple illustrations and light colors printed on wood, it makes the wood appear as if it is stained in these light areas, something you could never achieve with a real wood stain.
Is there anything a photographer or artist can do to make his artwork/photograph look good on wood when he or she is creating it?
That’s a hard question, all files look so different, it’s really personal preference. I personally think black and white photos look great, and illustrations.
Following the above, working with different mediums and individuals, concepts and collaborations naturally requires some form of difference/understanding/application to each print: in technique, knowledge of the medium, understanding of concept (if there is one), your personal preference to style, knowing the client and even the time invested. What would you say are primary differences during each process of creating the piece?
We just try and provide as much information on what our finish options are and let people pick for themselves.
What type of wood do you print on?
We are using birch wood since it’s really bright in colour and it really just looks the best. We have printed on many different types of wood for custom projects over the years based on clients requests.
What are some of the most beautiful things you have experienced, learned and witnessed during the 10 year journey of Print on Wood?
The friends and relationships we have created with our community of artists and getting to work on some very special projects with Shepard Fairey, Jeff Soto, D*Face and Coachella Arts and Music Festival to name a few.
In what way/s do you hope Prints on Wood challenges traditional thinking of ‘art’?
I don’t think we started Prints on Wood to challenge thinking, it was more of a way to do something we love and are passionate about being art collectors.
Art – in whatever form – has gone on a voyage of transformation, style, functionality, a form of activism, a solace to solitude, a catalyst to change, a way to express, something that is a part of your identity…part of wider cultural movements, the focus of academic analyses, a lifestyle, a symbol for status, or just ‘l’art pour l’art’. Where are we today? Is there a new movement, new perspective that has formed due to an increasing lack of care for the environment (which provides the resources we need to create art!) and the ever-evolving digital lifestyle?
Yeah, there’s definitely a new movement, it’s all about street art these days. Ten years ago these artists were getting arrested for doing wall murals and now brands and cities are paying artists to do wall murals.
We are currently working on getting our city of Riverside, where both Jeff Soto and I live, to approve a few wall murals. It is ironic that now we have to work around the anti-graffiti laws that came about from the illegal murals Jeff did back in the day, funny how things change.
What do you predict for the future – will printing on wood become the way to own and admire art works?
I’m not sure if its the way of the future but it’s definitely a cool way to collect art mainly because it is ready to hang right out of the box, no framing required. That’s one thing I always hated about buying paper prints, paying for the damn framing, most of the time it costs more than the prints.
How did The Sea No Evil art show/fundraiser event lead to the concept of Prints on Wood?
I love and collect art, after doing the The Sea No Evil art show for six years we had created so many great relationships with artists…
Prints on Wood was a way to continue doing something we loved with those artists.
Exit Through the Giftshop is a film that sheds light on the irony inherent in the ‘art world’. I sometimes wonder that it was a collab between Fairey, Banksy and Invador to highlight the contradictions that float between the world of art and the lifestyle of the wealthy. And, even think at times that Thierry was all just a part of it too – he certainly proved to be a prime example of various ideologies that should be explored: acceptance; fame; recognition; integrity; and the power of perception. Do you have any thoughts on this or discussions you all had?
Funny you ask I have been meaning to ask Shepard about this movie but always forget, if you want my personal opinion, knowing Shepard for the last 10 years and how nice and generous he is, Thierry was just some creepy dude Shepard let tag along and over time he gained his trust among others and he was able to learn what these guys were doing. I guess there’s not much difference between other people who copy other artists, but there’s just something wrong with Thierry and the zero substance behind his art, if you want to call it that. I think Mr Brainwash’s success was just dumb luck and timing, right place at the right time.
Check out: Prints on Wood
Image Credits (as per order of appearance)
Featured Image: ‘Supernova‘ by Tara McPherson
Images 1, 2 and 3: ‘Wind of Light‘ by Ania Tomicka
Images 4 and 5: ‘Genus Rainbowis‘ by Caia Koopman
Images 6 and 7: ‘Pierced Heart‘by Jennybird Alcantara
Images 8 and 9: ‘Don’t Forget to Remember‘ by Tara Mcpherson
Images 10 and 11: ‘Young Seiren‘ by Richard J Oliver
Image 12: ‘Frozen Era‘ by Aunia Kahn
Image 13: ‘What the EFFING EFF!?!‘ by David Chung
Image 14: ‘Aether Seeker‘ by Jeff Soto