St. Michael’s Printshop (SMP) exists to develop and grow printmaking as a participatory and accessible art form. SMP provides the facilities and opportunity for visual artists from across the province, Canada, and internationally, as well as for its local community, to learn and engage in the art of printmaking. One of the province’s few artist-run centres and the only artist-run printmaking studio, SMP promotes and continues to push the boundaries of printmaking as a contemporary art form. SMP provides space and specialized equipment for artists to work, educational opportunities through scholarships and workshops, and residencies through its visiting artist program.
A little History
St Michael’s Printshop was formed in 1974 in St Michael’s, a small, rural outport community in NL. It was founded by two artists and printmakers Heidi Oberheide and Don Wright. They founded the printshop with the help and material support from Memorial University’s Extension Services and started an informal visiting artist program that grew over the years. Artists came from all over, and were drawn to the quiet but wild landscape the printshop was situated in. In its first 15 years SMP attracted many local and visiting artists from across the country including: Frank Lapointe, Mary Pratt, Christopher Pratt, Jerry Evans, Bill Ritchie, Anne Meredith Barry, David Umholtz, Otis Tamasauskas, among others.
In 1986 SMP relocated to its current location; an old sail loft in the heart of St John’s and along the waterfront. Along with the move came a shift and a rededication to promoting printmaking and facilitating the development of print artists. It was during this time of transformation that SMP established the Don Wright scholarship in memory of co-founder Don Wright. This scholarship provides one emerging artist, or recent BFA graduate, with $1000, free access to the printshop for a year, and an exhibition in the gallery.
SMP has continued its Visiting Artist Program to this day, each year hosting six visual artists for one month each. During the residency artists make work in the printshop, connect with the SMP community, and host a workshop of their choosing, sharing their specialized knowledge with the local print community. In recent years and in an effort to address accessibility issues at SMP (we are located on the second floor with stair access only) we acquired a mobile printing press that we bring to local outdoor events and community spaces. SMP continues to grow its membership and holds a variety of intro to advanced workshops for local artists, community members, and visitors.
Since its founding 46 years ago, St. Michael’s Printshop has published 2 books, hosted 270 visiting artists, awarded 29 Don Wright scholarships and holds a print archive of over 3500 prints that were created in the printshop. SMP hopes to continue this trajectory while expanding and growing to best serve our local, national, and international arts community.
St. Michael’s Printshop strives to continue to grow printmaking in local, provincial, national, and international communities through:
- The operation of a year-round, fully equipped printmaking facility and public gallery
- Providing artist residencies to local and visiting artists, to explore printmaking in the creative, collaborative, environment with regular interaction with the local community.
- Providing low cost and free workshops to artists and the public as an opportunity for them to learn and engage in printmaking processes.
- Providing gallery space so that members of the general public can view and appreciate contemporary print work.
- Providing opportunities for the exchange of artistic ideas between artists and the community through public events, artist talks, workshops and open studio nights.
- Facilitating and promoting activities that encourage exchange and education on technical and philosophical issues related to contemporary print and art practices on a local, national, and international level.
- Engaging in exchange activities with other artist-run centre printshops, as well as galleries, across Canada.
- Preserve a Print Archives Collection that holds one print from each edition printed in the studio since its inception in 1972 to promote and share our ongoing and vibrant history.
St. Michael’s Printshop (SMP) strives to be a leading organization that can facilitate the foundation for diversifying the arts sector in the province. We intend to be self-examining and responsive as an institution, while also acting as a catalyst for the arts community. SMP is the only publicly accessible printshop in Newfoundland and Labrador. We strive and aim to be more integral to the arts and local community, and will do so through the following:
- Continued work toward addressing oppression within the shop to make it a more welcoming and meaningfully inclusive space.
- Work to become more financially sustainable
- Offer more low cost and free programming to our local community and be more of a community resource, gathering spot and artistic hub.
- Update the facilities to include more digital methods to keep up with changing and expanding contemporary printmaking processes.
- Increase artist fees and ways in which we support artists locally, provincially, nationally, and internationally.
- Increase our presence across the province of Newfoundland and Labrador with initiatives such as a portable/touring printing press.
- Partner with existing artist-run printmaking centres across Canada to increase our programming and reach.
- Obtain a building to ensure longevity and stability as an organization as well as expand our printmaking capabilities.
Who Are We For?
Everyone! Not only does SMP offer experienced artists a space to work and facilities to use, we also offer a diverse range of workshops for all experience levels. We want to bring the magic of printmaking to all who are interested.
What Can You Look Forward To In Our Programming?
Since our inception, SMP has been hosting artists from within our community and across the globe through our Visiting Artist Program. For over 40 years we have been promoting local, national, and international artists who come to the printshop to make art for one month. These artists meet and offer workshops to our local community. Six artists are selected per year, it is always worth checking out what kind of workshop they will offer, or coming to the Meet & Greet event when they arrive!
We also offer a range of workshops and classes. Would you like to take your family to a 1-day holiday-themed linoleum-printmaking card-making event? Or maybe you are an individual looking to “level-up” your printmaking skills through a 6-week copper-plate etching class? How about a workshop for lovers of rainbows who want to play with inky rollers? These are just a few of the options for workshops and classes at SMP.
Another piece of programming to look out for are our Open Studio Events. Folks can come to SMP, take a seat at a table and make drawings or prints alongside other artists. These events are a great way to meet new friends, learn about the facilities, get comfortable in the printshop, and play with materials.
How Does Membership Work?
Anyone can become a member of St. Michael’s Printshop – our memberships are affordable at $30 + tax for a one-year membership. If you are new to printmaking, a membership is your first step in taking all of the exciting workshops at SMP. If you are an experienced artist in printmaking who wants to use our facilities independently, this membership entitles you to start renting at SMP. There are many rental options, but essentially, renters can access the printshop 24/7 to be able to produce artworks in the space.
Sales Collection & Archives
You know what is really amazing about SMP? We have a historical archive containing over 3000 prints made by every artist who has ever printed at SMP. The fact that printmaking means artists can make multiples, historically, has meant that artists make what is known as an “edition.” For example, an artist working in intaglio (etching/scratching an image into a metal plate and printing off the plate), might create an edition of 10 prints at SMP. And every artist who prints at SMP agrees to donate 2 prints from their edition. One print goes to the historical archive, and the other print goes to our sales collection so we can fundraise.
How Does Staffing Work at SMP?
We have an Executive Director, Christeen Francis, who takes care of SMP’s daily operations and administration. Christeen is also an artist passionate about printmaking and bringing this artform to everyone, so she is an excellent captain of the SMP ship. We also have a part time communication and admin assistant, Drew Pardy, who is also a working artist! SMP often has student and part-time assistants as well.
What Is An Artist-Run Centre?
An artist-run centre is an organization initiated and led by artists and community members. That means, you! We have a board of directors who are artists and community members, our committees are all artist-led…and we are always looking for more hands on deck!
Being a non-profit artist-run centre, we are funded by grants from organizations like Canada Council for the Arts, the Newfoundland and Labrador Arts Council, the City of St. John’s, and the NL Cultural Economic Development Program. We rely on community partners, fundraising, volunteers, and TLC (tender, loving, care) to keep our organization vibrant.
Want To Learn More And Stay In Touch?
For the most up-to-date news and information, follow us on Facebook and Instagram. As well, check out our “news” page and sign up for our weekly newsletter, which we send out every Friday.
If you want to know more, or join us through volunteering on our board, a committee, or general volunteering, email firstname.lastname@example.org– you will likely speak to either Andrew Testa (the Chair of our Board of Directors), or Christeen Francis (our Executive Director).