Making an impression at Newark Print Shop

By insidejersey
on December 29, 2014

By SHARON ADARLO | For Inside Jersey magazine

Prints are clipped to a string to dry inside the Newark Print Shop in Newark.

 

On Wednesday nights, the Newark Print Shop is abuzz with creativity. People crowd around the letterpress machine and crank out professional-looking greeting cards. Artists silk-screen posters, tote bags and T-shirts to be sold at festivals. Photographers busy themselves in the darkroom developing black-and-white photos.

“It’s uplifting for an artist when you come in and create,” says Newark resident Patricia “Peekz” Reynolds, who frequents the shop to make printed T-shirts and bags for her business, Peekz Art Shop.

Though it’s only been open for about two years, this community-oriented, nonprofit arts organization devoted to printmaking has quickly become a fixture in the Newark arts scene and a gathering place for artists. A few come from as far away as Brooklyn for the shop’s extensive range of equipment.

Lisa Conrad, founder and director, started the shop in 2012 at her art studio on Broad Street, teaming up with volunteers and the shop’s founding principals and artists Stephen McKenzie, Samer Fouad and Jackie Cruz.

Conrad had received a grant to teach printmaking to high school students, but artist wanted lessons, too. After seeing a photo of a once-existing Newark print club, Conrad began offering open workshops. She also drew inspiration from the more than 100-year-old art print collection at the Newark Public Library.

Following a fire at the Broad Street location, Conrad moved the shop to 304 University Ave. The print shop has a wide array of equipment: various screen-printing machinery, papermaking tools, an etching press, a large drying rack and a darkroom.

In addition to a rotating menu of workshops, people can drop in on Wednesday nights for the weekly print club, during which participants learn how to make prints; cost is $10 a session. Artists can beome members for $125 per month, which offers 24/7 access to the shop, plus storage. Anyone also can submit a portfolio for the printer-in-residence program, which runs for six months, offering access to the facility and culminating in an exhibition. It is a juried program.

To Conrad, it’s not just a print shop. It has become an important community space for artists, whether professional or amateur.

“I felt so blessed. I wanted to share,” she says. “What I love about print is that it makes a collaborative community.”

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