New Hampshire
Profile Type: Artist
Artist
BIG INK

"BIG INK is a traveling educational program that teaches visual art and brings people together to celebrate woodblock printmaking.  We empower artists with the tools and techniques needed to carve a large-scale woodblock and our public events highlight the spectacle of the printing process."

Artists interested in carving a woodblock of at least 24 by 36 inches are invited to apply to print with BIG INK. No prior experience is required and emerging, mid-career, and established visual artists are encouraged to apply. Upon acceptance, artists have two months to carve their design. Lyell Castonguay, owner/operator of BIG INK, then meets participants at a venue and we help each other print as a group.

Experience art-making on a monumental scale, explore creative places, and connect with program participants from coast to coast.  Visit bigink.org to apply to an upcoming event and read on for more information about the benefits of applying.

The Big Tuna

BIG INK has the only oversized printing press designed for routine travel.

Gaining access to oversize equipment is an obstacle for any artist who wants to print big.  We raised $13,000 through public support to commission The Big Tuna.  It is the only oversized printing press designed for routine travel.  Given its modular construction the press can be transported virtually anywhere!  It has made a lasting impression when assembled at the entrance to a subway station, in the middle of a flea market, or at the heart of a city commons.

Destinations

Make art part of your next adventure!

Our program invites participants to visit new and interesting places.  From San Francisco to Nashville, the best galleries and art centers host BIG INK events.  Participants create friendships and connect with visitors during a memorable day.  Afterward, they are free to explore the local sights, feeling inspired by an art event like no other.

Create & Connect

Anyone with patience and an admiration for quality craftsmanship will thrive in our program.

BIG INK participants come from a variety of backgrounds and experience levels.  An event can include college professors, art school graduates, designers, illustrators, sculptors, painters, photographers, and hobbyists.  Some participants have never carved a woodblock, others have carved many.  If your work features contrast, outlines, or patterning, then woodblock printmaking may be the perfect artistic medium for you!

Community members can watch The Big Tuna in-action as event participants captivate the crowd with their artistic skill.  Once inspired, the public can make their own mini print.  Volunteers assist audience members with inking pre-carved plates and printing on The Anchovy, BIG INK's mini press.

Resources

We strive to make the production of a large-scale woodblock accessible.

Castonguay's online master class guides participants through the woodblock carving process before the event, imparting knowledge of preferred materials and techniques.

Promotion

Bring you art to a new audience outside the studio.  We work with local media outlets to advertise the event.  Our social media accounts highlight the work of participants to an international following.

Follow @biginkprints on Facebook and Instagram to see what others are carving!

Quality

Our work is professional grade, ready for exhibition and sale.

BIG INK creates three impressions from each participant's woodblock, one of which the artist places in BIG INK's collection.  The woodblock and the other two prints remain property of the artist.  Woodblocks are printed on archival paper using traditional oil-based ink.  BIG INK directs the operation and maintains a high standard of quality throughout the process.

Large-Format Scanning

Participants are provided a high-res scan of their finished woodblock print and are encouraged to use this image for self promotion on their website, social media, etc.

Collection & Sales

Every print in our collection is a testament to the power of creative collaboration.

BIG INK's collection includes one print from each call-for-entry participant.  These works are available for purchase after being scanned and added to our online shop.  Proceeds from sales are split equally between BIG INK and the participant.  We also utilize the collection for exhibitions, artist talks, and college presentations.

Our Backstory

Castonguay, whose personal woodblocks are often monumental, wanted to encourage other printmakers to expand their sense of scale. Recognizing most artists don't have the technical expertise required for such work, Castonguay began to teach the woodblock carving process. By hosting informal "print parties," word spread and more artists wanted to learn the craft. Castonguay established BIG INK to accommodate the growing interest.

Castonguay's work includes reduction, multi-block, and large-scale woodblock printing. He is represented by Mitchell Giddings Fine Arts, Imprint Gallery, and his work is included in international collections. Castonguay has over a decade's worth of experience working with fellow artists, guiding them through the creative process, and printing their work.

The Process

A woodblock is essentially a hand-carved stamp.  Woodblock prints, aka relief prints, are made through a process of elimination.  First, an artist draws a design onto a piece of plywood and carves away the negative spaces in the design.  The areas to show 'white' are cut away with chisels leaving the characters or image to show 'black' at the original surface level.  This stamp is coated with ink and pressed onto paper.

The History

"BIG INK is a testament to an ancient art form still popular today." Lyell Castonguay

Woodblock printing originated in ancient China.  It was recorded as a means of printing patterns on textiles in Japan as early as the 8th century

The process appeared in Europe by the early 1400s to illustrate books.  The German artist Albrecht Dürer developed relief into a fine art form in the early 1500s.  Multicolored prints, call chiaroscuro woodcuts, were developed in Italy at the same time.

By the late 1600s Japanese artists were creating extraordinary colored woodblock prints using a technique called Moku Hanga.  The resulting Ukiyo-e prints forged the European Le Japonisme movement and influenced countless Impressionist and Post-Impressionist painters.  In the 1960s monumental woodblocks printing was championed by artists including Leonard Baskin.

Artist still carve woodblocks by hand using the same techniques developed hundreds of years ago.

Testimonials

"Being a professional sculptor, carving a woodcut was something that appealed to my sensibilities but was also something I'd never done.  BIG INK's step by step videos was helpful in guiding me through the process. BIG INK answered my technical questions quickly and gave me feedback on my image when I emailed photos.  I'm now taking what I learned as a BIG INK participant and integrating it back into my 3-D work." Kerry O. Furlani

"BIG INK encouraged all the participants to work together to execute their prints. The event inspired me to continue exploring scale and surface in my practice and opened up a new channel of communication with a great group of artists."  Enrique Figueredo

I Have Worked With

  • In conjunction with the MFA’s exhibit “The German Woodcut: Christiane Baumgartner” BIG INK was invited to give a demonstration in the museum’s John, Bertram A. and Ronald M. Druker Family Pavilion.  BIG INK brought their giant mobile press “The Big Tuna” to the museum and invited six artists including Jun LeeMichael Rich, Daryl Storrs, Anita Hagan, Sarah Koff and Scott Minzy to print for the day.

    Throughout the course of the event, BIG INK spoke with MFA patrons about the relief printing process.  Each artist was given an opportunity to speak about how woodblock printing fits into their working practice.  The event was well received by the community!  The museum’s educational coordinator reported over 250 people in attendance throughout the day.

     

  • BIG INK Director Lyell Castonguay was invited to Roger Williams University by faculty member Michael Rich to lead a large-scale woodblock printing workshop which included both students and faculty of the fine art department.  After viewing work from Castonguay's personal portfolio students where taught proper woodcarving tool use and maintenance. Over a period of six weeks students carved their own woodblock with feedback from Castonguay and Professor Rich. At the conclusion of the six weeks students regrouped and held a collaborative print day. Everyone involved in the project helped by either inking woodblocks, preparing paper, or hanging prints to dry.

  • 3S invited BIG INK to host a two-day printmaking event at their location in Portsmouth, NH. Prints were pulled from large-scale woodblock plates carved ahead of time by regional artists.  Emerging, mid-career, and established visual artists submitted a proposal to participate with a draft of their design that had to be executed at 24" x 36" in dimension or larger.  No prior printmaking experience was required. Any artist that had an interest in print media and wanted to achieve a deeper understanding of woodblock carving was welcome to apply.

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Contact Information

First Name: 
Lyell
Job Title/Position: 
Owner/Operator
Mailing Address: 
125 Main St
Unit 29
Newmarket, NH 03857
Physical Address: 
125 Main St Unit 29
Newmarket, NH 03857
Last Name: 
Castonguay

About

Profile Type: 
Artist
Primary Discipline: 
Visual/Crafts - Printmaking
Additional Disciplines: 
Visual/Crafts - General
Visual/Crafts - Carving
Visual/Crafts - Illustration / Drawing
Visual/Crafts - Mixed Media
Visual/Crafts - Painting
Visual/Crafts - Paper
Visual/Crafts - Photography
Visual/Crafts - Printmaking
Visual/Crafts - Sculpture
Visual/Crafts - Stone
Visual/Crafts - Wood / Bark
Year Founded: 
2012
Populations Served: 
Adults
Businesses
General Public
Nonprofits
School Groups
Teens
Institution/Business Type: 
Arts Service Organizations
Activities and Services: 
Arts Instruction / Lessons
Community Arts
Professional Development / Training
Public Art Projects (In Free, Public Spaces)
Workshops / Demonstrations / Master Class
Geographic Reach: 
National
International

I am a Touring Artist

State of Residence: 
New Hampshire

I am a Teaching Artist

Teaching Settings: 
Arts and Cultural Center / Venue
Community Site / Center
Private Studio
School / University
Subject Areas: 
Visual/Crafts
Ages Served: 
High School-age
College-Age
Adults
Seniors