Friday, April 24, 2009

Mock Show Artist Spotlight: AJ Masthay

Aaron J. Masthay is a printmaker best known for his elaborate hand-carved, hand-pressed linoleum block posters.

AJ, as his avid collectors refer to him, utilizes a reduction process to create his beautiful, labor intensive, multiple color prints using only one piece of linoleum. This process was first developed by Pablo Picasso who nicknamed it the "suicide method" because the block is destroyed as the print is created. For this reason, it is extremely important to plan the image carefully before beginning to print.

The first step involves cutting away the white areas of the image. Linoleum printing is essentially a form of stamp printing, so whatever is cut out of the block will not be inked. After the white areas are cut away, the first color is printed on the paper. The artist must decide how many prints there are going to be when they print the first color because they will not be able to go back and make more after this point. They roll ink on the raised surface with a tool called a brayer. The linoleum plate is then hand fed through a Vandercook Press and uneven application are smoothed onto the paper with a tool called a barren. After the artist prints the first color, they then cut out the parts of the block that they want to remain that color. This process is repeated, cutting away what stays until the print is finally the print is set to dry and become signed and numbered.

(above) AJ's favorite release came from his Coventry Series. "I'd have to say my favorite out of my past works would be my Coventry series, more specifically the night set. The feedback I got from collectors commenting on how they captured the overall concert experience really hit home for me.Now once some of this summer's stuff is released this may change..."

Masthay's last release was an homage to Phish's comeback shows at the Hampton Coliseum. He explains, "Bass Bomb II: The Fallout was made in response to the numerous requests for a second edition to the Bass Bomb I (the original 8 color linoleum block print that sold out immediately). My original intent with Hampton was to do a three print set telling a story about the bomb being dropped and the days following. Due to time constraints for the Phanart show in Troy, NY, I cut it back to one print. This was a great excuse to go back to the original idea and at least make it a set of two prints."

Masthay reflects on Phish 3.0 explaining, "I do have to say that the standard of living for summer tour have been raised a bit. Gone are the days of sleeping in the car or finding a no name motel off the highway."

As for his ideal show, he's "not a huge fan of the long drive, so it would have to be somewhere in the northeast. I'd say SPAC is my optimal venue. Not much into the "pre show antics" anymore but a few beers in the lots is always fun." Music wise he's still waiting to hear a Harpua. "1st set or 2nd set, I dont care. I'd just be ecstatic to hear it once." Favorite parking lot food? "I can remember getting this pad thai in the lots I think at the Lemonwheel that was killer. I need to find me some of that again. Those french bread pizzas always hit the spot after a show too."

Look for new releases this summer, stop by his booth at Mock Show Red Rocks and don't forget to visit his website at

No comments:

Post a Comment