15 months ago I was fucked.
By the end of the summer 2012 I hadn’t made a dime in months and hadn’t produced any work of value. I needed to do something so I proposed designing and printing a series of posters for MCAD’s Liberal Arts department. I couldn’t afford to pay someone to print them so I found myself at Landland—the studio of Jes Seaman and my good friend Dan Black—printing posters by hand for the first time in years. There were 5 posters total so I’d be there least once a month for a couple days straight. Soon other reasons were popping up to make posters—a collaborative print for a Sic Alps gig in October, or the Poster Offensive show in November—and I would be at Landland every few weeks. By the time I finished printing the Haunted Basement poster in September of this year, I had designed and printed 1 poster a month for a year.
Landland saved my life in 2012. I had no money to do the projects I was doing. If Dan Black hadn’t been my closest friend I wouldn’t have had one of the most productive years of my life. Dan fronted me paper and materials, would burn screens for me while I was working my day job, tolerated me showing up unannounced during my lunch breaks to mix inks, and eventually gave me a key to the studio. Jes would cut my prints for me and constantly had to rearrange her workflow so that I could use their tables and drying racks. Oh, and Dan didn’t complain when I would show up at 9:30 AM to print even though he was sleeping on the couch and had gone to bed at 7 AM.
The work I did from August 2013–September 2013 is my favorite work ever. And it could not have happened without the help and support of Landland. Where The MVA is right now—alive, energized and expanding—is a direct result of spending a couple days every few weeks standing on concrete floors for hours at a time, dragging ink across paper, my skin coated in that particularly disgusting mix of sweat and dust that comes from manual labor performed in basements.
I’d walk out into the night for a long drive home—hungry, head-pounding from being up too long, neck muscles in agony, eyes tired and dry—but energized. I was doing the work again. The right work that I was supposed to be doing. The MVA was a thing again.
Landland moved to Chicago a month ago and have already settled into their new space. I miss them. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t miss having access to a spectacular print shop run by friends that put down whatever they were doing to help me. I do miss that. But, 15 months ago I was fucked. And now I’m not.
Dan and Jes—thank you and good luck in Chicago